I was puzzled by this story starting with the first paragraph:
Shift From 'Generic Evil' Sought
The Sept. 11 commission report offers a broad critique of a central tenet of the Bush administration's foreign policy -- that the attacks have required a "war on terrorism."
The report argues that the notion of fighting an enemy called "terrorism" is too diffuse and vague to be effective. Strikingly, the report makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, a frequent assertion of President Bush and his top aides.
"The first phase of our post-9/11 efforts rightly included military action to topple the Taliban and pursue al Qaeda. This work continues," the report said. "But long-term success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort."
I was confused because it seemed to bash the "Global War on Terror" but then call for "the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defense" which sounded a whole lot like the GWOT to me.
So I pulled up my copy of the report and did a search for 'generic evil'. I started reading Chapter 12, "What To Do? A Global Strategy" (page 378 of pdf) To my astonishment, I found what the report really said:
...In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests “over there” should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America “over here.” In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just “terrorism,” some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism —especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology.
As we mentioned in chapter 2, Usama Bin Ladin and other Islamist terrorist leaders draw on a long tradition of extreme intolerance within one stream of Islam (a minority tradition), from at least Ibn Taimiyyah, through the founders of Wahhabism, through the Muslim Brotherhood, to Sayyid Qutb. That stream is motivated by religion and does not distinguish politics from religion, thus distorting both. It is further fed by grievances stressed by Bin Ladin and widely felt throughout the Muslim world—against the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, policies perceived as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, and support of Israel. Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the “head of the snake,” and it must be converted or destroyed.
It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground—not even respect for life—on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated.
WOW. That's strong. The emphasis on the word "Islamist" was the 9/11 commission's. (the bold is mine.)
The difference between what the commission calls for and what the WaPo says it calls for is profound indeed.
From reading the WaPo report it looks as if the commission is disagreeing with the tactics by which we are fighting the GWOT while calling for more of the same. If you actually read the report it is talking about the destruction of Islamic fundamentalism.
The Report continues:
Our enemy is twofold: al Qaeda, a stateless network of terrorists that struck us on 9/11; and a radical ideological movement in the Islamic world, inspired in part by al Qaeda, which has spawned terrorist groups and violence across the globe.The first enemy is weakened, but continues to pose a grave threat. The second enemy is gathering, and will menace Americans and American interests long after Usama Bin Ladin and his cohorts are killed or captured.Thus our strategy must match our means to two ends: dismantling the al Qaeda network and prevailing in the longer term over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.
If the 9/11 commission is critical of the current administration it is for not declaring war on radical Islam. --Something the left in this country would have had a cow over.
Ironically, this chapter of the commission's report starts with these two paragraphs:
Three years after 9/11, Americans are still thinking and talking about how to protect our nation in this new era.The national debate continues. Countering terrorism has become, beyond any doubt, the top national security priority for the United States. This shift has occurred with the full support of the Congress, both major political parties, the media, and the American people.
I'm not so sure about at least one of those.