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March 11, 2005

Which war are we in?

Posted by Phil on March 11, 2005 1:37 PM

From a long post well worth your while on TomDispatch:

It's worth recalling that another post-9/11 path was suggested in the wake of the suicide attacks on America. When you read the World War IV literature what you quickly notice is that these men, their eyes focused on the crumbling towers (and on a prior policy wish-list), claimed the moment to be transformative and undoubtedly believed themselves (like our initially panicked President) in a World-War-IV-type situation. There was, however, another group which looked at the same situation, considered the horror, but focused, both more modestly and, as it turns out, more realistically, not so much on the crumbling towers as on the small set of men and the obviously audacious yet circumscribed operation that made those towers crumble. What they saw, reasonably enough, was a massive act of terror and murder, both an international crime and an armed act of propaganda, but not an act of war a-la, say, Pearl Harbor.

It's too late to turn back the clock in Iraq, and triumphalists who trumpeted last week's "Arab Spring" (apparently just an Indian Summer in Lebanon) would damn anyone who suggested a less apocalyptic and more modest approach to the relatively modest threat posed by the relatively modest number of angry fanatics.

Attention to events elsewhere may leave Iraq behind, though it will certainly remain a festering sore--and a source of terrorism anew--for some time to come. But it's worth reconsidering the past three and a half years, as Tom Engelhardt does here, and how we intend to confront the real, but not indefinable or infinite, threat of terror--specifically the possibility of terrorists acquiring WMDs, especially nuclear weapons.

Worth reconsidering, because the Iraq War and the War on Terror are as separate from each other as they have ever and always been, and while we may be sunk in a quagmire in Iraq (oh my! did I just use a word loaded with post-Vietnam emotional baggage?), the sources and threats of terrorism still await a constructive, separate response.

Not that it wasn't fun last week watching Bush and his appointees and pundits fist-pump, chicken-strut, and moonwalk in the declared, imaginary End Zone of their War on Whatever They Said It Was. We take our shadenfreude when we can, because World War IV offers more shame than joy.