Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Food for thought:

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo directed our attention to a speech by Zbigniew Brzezinski at the New American Strategies for Security and Peace conference. It's pretty good. We were struck by the following observations by Z-big: (emphasis added)
Since the tragedy of 9-11 which understandably shook and outraged everyone in this country, we have increasingly embraced at the highest official level what I think fairly can be called a paranoiac view of the world. . Summarized in a phrase repeatedly used at the highest level, "he who is not with us is against us."

This phrase in a way is part of what might be considered to be the central defining focus that our policy-makers embrace in determining the American position in the world and is summed up by the words "war on terrorism." War on terrorism defines the central preoccupation of the United States in the world today, and it does reflect in my view a rather narrow and extremist vision of foreign policy of the world's first superpower ...

... that skewed view of the world is intensified by a fear that periodically verges on panic that is in itself blind. By this I mean the absence of a clearly, sharply defined perception of what is transpiring abroad regarding particularly such critically important security issues as the existence or the spread or the availability or the readiness in alien hands of weapons of mass destruction.

I think that calls for serious debate in America about the role of America in the world, and I do not believe that that serious debate is satisfied simply by a very abstract, vague and quasi-theological definition of the war on terrorism as the central preoccupation of the United States in today's world. That definition of the challenge in my view simply narrows down and over-simplifies a complex and varied set of challenges that needs to be addressed on a broad front.

It deals with abstractions. It theologizes the challenge. It doesn't point directly at the problem. It talks about a broad phenomenon, terrorism, as the enemy overlooking the fact that terrorism is a technique for killing people. That doesn't tell us who the enemy is. It's as if we said that World War II was not against the Nazis but against blitzkrieg. We need to ask who is the enemy, and the enemies are terrorists.

But not in an abstract, theologically-defined fashion, people, to quote again our highest spokesmen, "people who hate things, whereas we love things" - literally. Not to mention the fact that of course terrorists hate freedom. I think they do hate. But believe me, I don't think they sit there abstractly hating freedom.
He doesn't come out and say it, but we see traces of the following notion which we have held for some time:
The terrorist threat isn't, and never was, as great as everyone has been led to believe.


Post a Comment