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The 'war on terror' ... who invented it, who owns it and all that

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Ragusa, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    martaug,
    this is utter and complete nonsense, the bold part in particular. If I recall rightly, military reprisals for terrorist acts are an American tradition established well before Clinton. If I am to be really naughty, I could even include in this the Barbary Pirate expeditions of 1801-1805 and 1815 and blame Thomas Jefferson for starting the 'war on terror'. What again does "... to the shores of Tripoli ..." refer to?

    Apropos Tripoli, one needn't even go as far back as that. The particular chain of events I have in mind involves the US reprisal for the last in a series of terrorist acts, the bombing of the discotheque La Belle in Berlin, which was frequented by US personnel, back in 1986. The reprisal air strikes then ordered by Reagan were named Operation El Dorado Canyon.

    So to say that Clinton's reprisals have started the 'war on terror' is borderline moronic. The 'war on terror' is distinct and different from ordinary military reprisals - air raids, shore bombardment, commando raids - it is vastly more ambitious in scope, in duration and in its goals. It involves not just retaliation but indeed, pre-emptive war and regime change across the Middle East - the things that became known as the Bush doctrine (and that apparently R partisans eagerly try to forget). None of Bush's predecessors was as ambitious (and unrealistic). The war on terror, just like Nixon's or Reagan's 'war on drugs', is a politically declared action program. Bush declared the 'war on terror' in his address on September 20, 2001. To aid your ailing memory:



    People are kidding themselves when they go blame Clinton and rewrite history in a desperate attempt exculpate the R's or Bush, or to feel better or whatever. Or maybe they're just disturbingly ignorant and don't know better or simply reiterate a disturbingly ignorant media person. Not that it really matters. What does matter is this: Bush owns the 'war on terror'. It is his policy, and his legacy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2015
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  2. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    That's right. "The War on Terror" was an idiotic term invented by Cheney, GWB & Company. Rejoice, the "war is over."

    The war invented by Cheney and GWB was nothing more than an empty shell wrapped in a slogan. Slick marketing though....


    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28959574/
     
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  3. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    I blame the terrorists.
     
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  4. Jack Funk Gems: 24/31
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    QFT
     
  5. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Agreed. Without them GWB would never have been reelcted in 2004.

    I was wrong to say "truckloads" of cash were given away - it was plane loads. Trucks were too small, since they needed C-130's instead:

    http://www.motherjones.com/washington_dispatch/2007/02/waxman_hearing_reconstruction.html
     
  6. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I would hope people do not confuse the War on Terror with the War in Iraq -- they are two entirely separate things. While Bush used the War on Terror as an excuse to conduct a War on Iraq, the two are not connected in any other way (except the War in Iraq has stripped valuable resources from the War on Terror).

    We have all heard the phrase 'War on Drugs' and should understand by now it is not really a war. The use of the term 'war' is metaphorical. It means we want to emphasize the importance of drug interdiction. In reality, the military plays a minor support role under very restrictive presidential orders. The majority of the 'foot soldiers' are law enforcement. The primary role the military has is intelligence.

    Prior to 9/11/2001 terrorism was a crime in the US. The FBI had complete jurisdiction in all terrorist activities. The role of the military in combatting terrorism was akin to the role in the War on Drugs. Once again, intelligence was a primary role with the additional roles training personnel abroad in antiterrorism (learning how to become a hard target -- preventing terrorist attack) and conducting counterterrorist ops to protect our personnel abroad (saving people attacked by terrorist). On occasion, the US Military was directed by executive order to conduct operations against known terrorist camps -- these attacks should be considered isolated as each attack individually required Presidential approval.

    This changed on 9/11. We actually entered a military operation. Taking the fight to the terrorist was the role of the military and the FBI (and CIA) played support roles. This was a huge shift in policy. I personally believe we were overdue in this. In my opinion, the War on Terror will go down as a good thing for President Bush -- followed immediately with condemnation for Iraq.

    The Global War on Terrorism was a response to 9/11 and entirely on the shoulders on Bush and was the right thing to do.

    Recap: GWoT = Good, Iraq = Bad.
     
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  7. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    I think you raise some good points, T2. My problem is with the term being tossed around as a buzz word for any policy the adminstration wanted to impliment by wrapping it around the War on Terror. It was designed to become a debate stopper. "Terror" is really a tactic and not a group of people or a nation. How do you declare a war on a tactic?
     
  8. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    You are correct about the semantics and misuse by the Bush administration (I already listed Iraq as one of those abuses) -- but those involved had no doubt about the mission. The War on Terror (which has the official name "Global War on Terrorism") had a primary target -- Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Secondary targets could be specified for those organizations considered a major threat. The war was against groups using principles of terrorism against the United States and allies.

    The debate stopper was fear. Fear which was fed by the press to the public on a regular basis and that the Bush administration milked for all it was worth.
     
  9. martaug Gems: 23/31
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    So according to your own definition, al-Qaeda & ObL are the main targets, just as the main targets of clintons Operation Infinite Reach was ObL, al-Queda & partner organisations

    If 75 Cruise missiles doesn't qualify as a military action just what does?
    Also an attack whose stated aim was the death of ObL & other terorist leadership sure sounds just like the opening salvo of the GWoT to me.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    Martaug, I fail to see the relevance of any of this. It is absolutely true that Clinton really went after Bin Laden (for which he was heavilly criticized by a republican congress that, after 911, appeared to develop amnesia when they criticized him for not doing enough), but this was first and foremost a retaliatory strike. Under Bush, we shifted to a policy of pre-emption as part of the "War on Terror". Clinton didn't follow a policy of pre-emption, nor did he formally declare war on Terror. Bush was the one who did that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  11. AMaster Gems: 26/31
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    I'd call it less metaphorical and more propagandistic. Same sort of Orwellian naming practices that give us the Department of Defense, DHS, No Child Left Behind, pacification, Enduring Freedom, Infinite Justice (Infitine! Justice!) and so on.

    Note that I'm not down on Bush in particular for this, it's just that he gave us so many examples so recently and thus they tend to come to mind first.

    As with the war on drugs, it's a terrible, terrible metaphor. It means we'd really like it if y'all concerned citizens would shut up and let us do the driving, because this stuff is important.
     
  12. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I agree with you on that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with fighting terrorism per se, and that is perhaps where my agreement ends. I think that it had everything to do with transforming the 'Greater Middle East'.

    Where I think you're wrong is (a) that your assessment IMO doesn't properly reflect the actual policy of the Bush presidency and (b) that you don't put transformation into the context with Iraq and the GWoT. As of 2007, your last president voiced a different view when he said, in a response to a Bin laden video, quote: "Iraq is part of this war against extremists".

    Now one could argue with some justification that he just said that to soothe public opinion at home; he did stuff like that a lot. Still, the war in Iraq like the war on terror is many things to many people. One has to be careful to distinguish what it was for whom. To you T2 it reasonably only makes sense as two separate wars - ok. For practical purposes, with Bush out of office and the US considering gradual disengagement, that today even may be correct - historically it is false. You cannot ignore what it meant and how it was conceived on the planner's level who apparently held a very different view than you do.

    People like Wolfowitz were dead serious when they were linking Iraq to the GWoT. It was their opportunity to start The Great Transformation Experiment. Just think of the 'transformative' thought experiments like 'A Clean Break' or the 'Hashemite Kingdom Plan' by people like Wurmser and Wolfowitz, to name just two. For the planners the war in Iraq was integral to the war on terror (and not distinct and separate), not so much because Saddam gave safe-haven to terrorists or had those ever-elusive WMD (both allegations that turned out to be a spurious at the very best). Saddam was seen by the Bush people as an expression of a Middle Eastern malady that had to be cured. They wanted nothing less than to change the political landscape in the Middle East. The utterly unrealistic idea behind transformation is, or (hopefully) was, in a nutshell, to 'drain the swamp' of extremism by making all of the Middle East like Ohio (obviously a cause for the locals to fight to the death against). The war in Iraq was conceived as the first great transformation experiment. That firmly links it, inseparably in fact, to the GWotT.

    Consequently, separating the war in Iraq from the GWoT appears to me artificial. Factoring the Iraq war out of the GWoT doesn't do the hubristic ambition of the Bush administration's original concept justice. What it does is to reinterpret the events after the fact, producing a distorted narrative.
    I am not persuaded on the utility of the military to this mission. Special forces, yes, sure, but regular army and Marines as occupation troops, or conducting major combat operations? Hardly. I feel it is because of your personal background that you find the use of the military in this context compelling as a solution. No offence.

    That said, Obama will continue the GWoT and indeed use it it more as a rhetorical vehicle. He cannot afford to abandon it without being predictably being accused by the right wing nuts to surrender to the extremists. So, just like a reverse of what Rumsfeld once said about a different program (TIA): "There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done..."
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  13. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I would certainly qualify launching 75 cruise missiles as a military action, but comparing that to deploying tens of thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan is absurd. (I'm sure we launched more than 75 cruise missiles during the first day of "Shock and Awe" in Iraq.)

    And I suppose you can think whatever you want regarding the GWoT, but Bush actually coined the term, and sent an army (you know, that organization we use to conduct wars) to fight the war. To say that Clinton started the GWoT, when he never he used the term is a reach to say the least. Comparing what Clinton did military in the Middle East, and saying that Bush merely extended what Clinton's policy was is disingenuous.
     
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    I admit, I'm confused by the purpose of this thread.

    Is there a global war on terrorism? I certainly hope so. The free nations of the world have an obligation to keep their citizens from being blown up.

    If on the other hand, the purpose of this thread is to bash Bush or possibly Clinton, or maybe just the U.S. in general, then I apoligize for interrupting. :)
     
  15. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    I certianly agree with the second part of that. But the obvious question is: How do we know when we have won the global war? When all the terrorists are dead? I know, a message will appear in the sky: "The last terrorist has died. You may now go back to your normal lives. Thank you for your patience."
     
  16. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    I'm not sure there is ever an end. Isn't it no different then the "war on crime"? It isn't like one day we are going to not need police.
     
  17. Death Rabbit

    Death Rabbit Straight, no chaser Adored Veteran Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    That's all the more reason why framing it in terms of a "war" is so absurd. It simply serves a political and rhetorical end to use that term, nothing more. We will always be against crime, malnutrition, disease, hard drugs, poverty, even a tactic like terrorism...so why don't we just declare war on everything that sucks?
     
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  18. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I don't know, DR, if the government declared a "War on Sucking" the sex trade industry might get nervous :D:lol::jawdrop::roll:
     
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  19. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I doubt anyone would argue about the third sentence. The first two are a bit trickier.

    Now, I'm fortunate enough never to have been involved in a war, at least as I understand it. A war, as I understand it, is more than bombing something, or sending in the Marines/Paratroopers/Guards/whatever elite force the country has. It involves a full-scale military operation, but it also involves the rest of society. Sure, Clinton was sending troops to Somalia and authorized strikes in several other countries, but that was no more "war on terror" than the shooting around the Indian-Pakistani border, or on the Iran-Afghanistan one, meant those countries were at war too.. Bullets are fired, sometimes people die, but ultimately things do not change that much for the states involved. When there is a war, this changes the way society works and the ways people behave. A war affects everyone, in a way. What happened to the US with 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan/Iraq was closer to that, though imo the US still isn't quite at war - now it's more of a botched peacekeeping operation than anything else.

    I fully support fighting terrorism, but a "war on terror" is no less crazy than war on drugs, or as LKD said a war on sucking. First, because it's not waged against a distinct enemy. Terror, as far as I understand it, is the conscious use and incitement of fear to achieve certain ends. That is a tactic that anyone can employ - heck, that nearly anyone has employed, including many democratic countries. This means that this phrase can be hijacked to mean anything - and win or loss are impossible to define. When Ottawa (and Montreal, for good measure) is occupied and the Canadian PM signs a treaty you know that Canada has lost, but how does that work with Terror? Second, because even if one means "Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups", there's the matter that there is an unknown number of them, they have many different aims (including, imo, killing and terrorizing each other), and usually bombing/warfare tends to create new ones. Now, if we were talking about a war with Al-Queda, I might take it much more seriously. Finally, terrorist groups are somewhat of a non-state actor, so traditional military operations simply don't work that well imo. Often, they operate more as conspiracies than anything else, and most of the time the army - which tends to be the state apparatus that specializes in wars - is not the right tool. Personally, I think the forces that should have been involved in combatting terrorism are the intelligence agencies (such as the CIA) and police and army special forces groups. That is what they are supposed to do, and they should be the ones doing it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  20. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I would argue that the phrase "War on ______________" is just a slogan that implies that a great effort will be expended on eliminating the target concept. I've heard of the "War on Crime" (target: criminals), "War on Terror" (target: terrorists), "War on Drugs" (targets: criminals who sell illegal drugs, people who useillegal drugs), "War on Poverty" (target: not a human one at all, but the underlying conditions that make some people poor. Not a military war at all, and certainly not one that can be won at the end of a gun barrel.)

    That great effort, as I mentioned in the last example especially, is not always intended to be militaristic (though it often is). It can be a war of propaganda (or advertising, if you prefer a less loaded term), education, or community unification to "take back our streets" or some other such initiative.

    Sadly, the whole "War on Terror" got sidetracked into a conventional war against nation states instead of one fought with information. I personally believe that 9/11 was the equivalent of the biggest kid on the playground getting his nose bloodied in a scrap he wasn't prepared for. In order to keep his reputation as the toughest kid, and to bolster his own self image, he went out and smashed the two most annoying kids on the playground (who no one liked anyway) even though they had not been the ones who bloodied his nose in the first place. It's all about appearances, my friends, and talking the tough talk even though that talk isn't very coherent at times.
     
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