Monday, December 29, 2003

Essential reading:

We are in complete agreement with George Soros' view as expressed in his Atlantic magazine article. Excerpts:
The terrorist attack on the United States could have been treated as a crime against humanity rather than an act of war. Treating it as a crime would have been more appropriate. Crimes require police work, not military action. Protection against terrorism requires precautionary measures, awareness, and intelligence gathering—all of which ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which the terrorists operate.

Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong way to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable target, preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been directed primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are by definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by states.

The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot be won. On the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists will never disappear. They will continue to provide a pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy.

The terrorist threat must be seen in proper perspective. Terrorism is not new. It was an important factor in nineteenth-century Russia, and it had a great influence on the character of the czarist regime, enhancing the importance of secret police and justifying authoritarianism.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: al Qaeda is not a state power. In fact, taking the adminstration at its word, the most recent alert was triggered by the concern that al Qaeda would hijack an airliner (or two). What more proof do you need that these guys don't have any weaponry? Sure, they are a menace with truck bombs, but the Bush adminstation has been treating al Qaeda as if they had submarines and jet fighters and laser guided bombs. They don't. The core is about 2,000 guys, mostly in Afghanistan. They were not captured when there was the opportunity (immediately after September 11), and now, two years later, it will be much harder to get them - partly because of the Iraq invastion, partly because the global (and expecially Islamic) community is less likely to go along. Bush wasted an opportunity to soundly defeat al Qaeda, and as Soros points out, used September 11 to advance other agendas (Total Invormation Awareness, PATRIOT Act, bigger military budget, invading Iraq).


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