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For those who feel the war on terrorism
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Thursday, May 27, 2004

 
Confusion and the American public go hand in hand like lint and laundry, so it should come as no surprise that the administration tries to play its part in disinforming and keeping the public uncertain about the world around them. Therefore, when Attorney General John Ashcroft issues vague warnings about AL Qaeda operatives being "ninety percent ready" to strike American targets, one should take such warnings with a certain grain of salt.

Now, for the more diabolical claim of my post. President Bush needs terrorism to remain a threat to remain in office, and so has continued to place greater emphasis on attacking benign targets rather than really trying to get to the roots of the terrorism problem. Case in point: in Iraq, there are various factions that are antagonizing the American presence. These can be broken into three groups: 1) Ba'athist loyalists, mostly Sunnis in Saddam Hussein's former strongholds, 2) Localized, or political militias, such as those controlled by Moktada al Sadr, and 3) foreign nationals, there to fight the American occupation. Now, of those three groups, terrorist links are most clearly connected to the last one in particular, and as of this writing, American military priority has been clearly placed on fighting the first two.

This claim may be disputed at will, but the fact that one of Al Qaeda's top operatives feels secure enough to film an execution of a recently taken American citizen indicates an American lack of prioritizing "terrorist" threats over political targets. Subsequently, our forces have engaged themselves in a political war, fighting rival factions to the parties they wish to keep in power, rather than a counter-terrorist war. The advanced stages of unrest in Iraq, the continuing disquiet, all indicate that the Iraqi people feel this as well.

Another clear indication that President Bush refuses to really eradicate terrorism is his constant capitulation to Ariel Sharon and his inability to take decisive direction in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shortly after coming to office the President thought to outdo his predecessor and bring the two sides together by way of "The Roadmap" a sanctimonious peace strategy that ignored twelve years of recent and bitter history in a laughable early attempt at international diplomacy by the Bush White House. Though labeled as a joint project with three other major powers, the American title was a dead giveaway.

For their part, the Israelis followed the letter, if not the spirit of the agreement, knowing full well (through that aforementioned history) that the pact would be impossible for Palestinian leadership to bring about without having all of the various militant groups at the table. And of course, Israelis would never deal with terrorists directly so that too was out of the question. Today "the Roadmap" may as well refer to the highway dividing the West Bank where Sharon builds his security fence. Securing a Palestinian state will not stop terrorism on Israel, nor will it stop Jewish settlers from trying to secure more of their holy land, but it would improve American-Arabic relations. Regardless, meaningful, non-partisan action in this section of the Middle East needs to happen first for any counter-terrorist credo to be believeable.

Finally, terrorists don't stop for the holidays, and they don't care about the economy. For the second time in the last half year, the administration has avoided raising the terrorist alert level, despite issuing strong terrorist warnings, conspicuously before major travel periods. Now, at first glance it looks like either Tom Ridge has no idea what John Ashcroft's office is doing, or John Ashcroft has no idea what he's talking about. Neither seems likely, so try this one: John Snow's office tells Tom Ridge's office when he can act on John Ashcroft's office's information. Now, nobody would have to worry about this that much if Donald Rumsfeld's office was really fighting terrorism. But no, Mr. Rumsfeld is fighting Iraq, opening the last great undefended oil stock in enemy territory to American investment.

Now, what of Afghanistan? By most accounts Osama bin Laden's days as a refuge are numbered, and he will soon be dead or in custody. Wouldn't this prove that President Bush was tough on terror? Osama bin Laden is one of an estimated 18,000 Al Qaeda operatives still at large. As bombings in Madrid and Turkey have proved, as the Nicolas Berg slaying shows, even as these new warnings indicate, terrorists are still operating without directive from the symbolic leader of their movement. Indeed, anything America does to him now is likely to only strengthen their convictions. His capture or death are still better than letting him remain at large, pushing his propaganda, but these events by themselves will not indicate an administration's effective fight on terror.

President Bush's advertisements obviously disagree, he is the only candidate willing to stand up to terrorists. John Kerry can't even decide whether he wants to suspend Americans' civil rights to fight them. Well, like I said, confusion goes with the American public like lint in laundry, but sometimes all it takes is someone to clean the filter to clear things up.

Bran 11:48 AM : |



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