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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Crimes, not War, of Terror

Two recent columns post-London that resonate with me, even if they raise more questions than I know yet how to answer. John Tierney [Safire's impressive replacement at the NYT] and Simon Jenkins [now of the Sunday Times] - neither of whom could be characterized as overly left-wing - weigh in on the fallacy of referring to the terrorist attacks as part of a larger "War". It's a different paradigm altogether.
Tierney:

"But I think that we'd be better off reconsidering our definition of victory in the war on terror. Calling it a war makes it sound like a national fight against a mighty enemy threatening our society.

But right now the terrorists look more like a small group of loosely organized killers who are less like an army than like lightning bolts - scary but rarely fatal. Except that the risk of being struck by lightning is much higher than the risk of being killed by a terrorist.

It may seem coldblooded to think in probabilities after a tragedy, but contemplating those odds made my walks home a lot easier during the snipers' spree."

Jenkins:

"Thursday’s bombs invite the same inflation, that they are part of a global war on terror and therefore somehow beyond our control. They must not be given that importance. They are a crime, a failure of domestic policing yet one from which no city can be immune.

They are not politically significant. They do not impoverish millions or alter the balance of world power. They are not an act of war between states, actual or virtual. They in no way diminish Britain’s national security or way of life. We are too robust for that. Therefore the bombs do not justify some new illiberalism from Blair, Charles Clarke and the security lobby.

The cause of democracy is not damaged by terrorism. Bombs will always get through. But the menace of terror lies in the poison it can inject into the community, tugging at its freedoms and taunting its tolerance. To that menace, democracy must be immune."

5 Comments:

Blogger The Tiger said...

Bombs will always get through, yes. And the actual odds of becoming a victim are trivial, yes.

But that doesn't mean that we don't have to go after the roots of said terror -- and in that, flipping the governments of the region plays a vital role.

Mind you, that's why I'm a Republican for the duration.

7:56 AM  
Blogger James MacDuff said...

I don't necessarily disagree with you, but in practice much more attention to the how and who we go about "flipping" than the "with us or against us" Republicans have admitted to date.

There is a difference between wars of necessity and wars of choice, as per Tom Friedman [one the President still doesn't seem to grasp] and they require different justifications and different standards of assessment/victory.

The consequences of our actions in going "after the roots of said terror" need to be more honestly scrutinized, and where necessary, corrected, especially where they can turn counterproductive. Our good intentions aside, absolutism going forward is only blinding.

Which begs the question, I suppose: are there any limits to your attachment to Republicans for the duration? No matter their future foreign policy choices? I'd hope not.

8:16 AM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

Actually, with the wrong presidential candidate, I may yet vote for Hillary in 2008. It's by no means a sure thing.

I'm not a "my country, right or wrong" sort of guy. If I were, I'd still be waving the Maple Leaf.

I'll take Bush and Blair (somewhat reluctantly for both) over the alternatives I've seen so far.

5:12 PM  
Blogger James MacDuff said...

yeah, well that's the point.

I've warmed a lot to Blair this past year, despite his ridiculousness on ID cards, Iraq, and the like. He and Brown, seemingly from a decision over dinner 10 years ago, have succeeded in making the Tories almost irrelevant. Too much co-opting of the Conservative agenda, perhaps, but hard to argue with success and the idea of a "progressive consensus".

I'm still hoping for a 2008 surprise such as Schweitzer from Montana. When it comes to American presidential nominees, I too look to those who can unite inspiration across the spectrum. Dean was one [even if he doesn't look it in retrospect] and there are other Democrats that share your sensibilities without succumbing to the baseness of a Republic Right Mentality that includes Santorum. Sullivan even voted Kerry due to conservative misgivings, so I hold out hope that the Tiger is not totally in exile, from his home country or his intelligence.

I could see myself backing a McCain candidacy over Hilary in the New Hampshire primary, in a partisan reach across the aisle, and will look to the 2008 candidates with what I hope is as untainted an eye as possible. Should be an interesting few years...

5:45 AM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

It will be that, yes. :-)

3:50 PM  

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