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WaPo Misses (ignores) the Point

I was puzzled by this story starting with the first paragraph:

War on Terror Criticized for Lack of Focus

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.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference WaPo Misses (ignores) the Point:

» A Small Victory linked with Never Forget

» On The Third Hand linked with They got it right!

» Rooftop Report linked with WaPo - - damn you

» Cuz We Said So linked with First Thoughts on the 9/11 Report

» it comes in pints? linked with "It can only be destroyed or isolated"

» camedwards.com linked with Missing the Point?

» The Cool Blue Blog linked with No Negotiation

» WhatsAPundit linked with The politics of narcicism

» South End Grounds linked with The Point of the Exercise

» American RealPolitik linked with Read It Yourself

» Stephen A. Nuño linked with Big Media gets it wrong....again.

» The Laughing Wolf linked with Oh Yes, Let’s Talk Nice

» Caerdroia linked with Naming the Enemy

» Welcome to Castle Argghhh! The Home Of One Of Jonah's Military Guys. linked with Great minds think alike.

» SashaCastel.com linked with This Bears Repeating

Comments (10)

Would "WaPo Suppresses</... (Below threshold)

Would "WaPo Suppresses the Point" be too strong?

This is the difference betw... (Below threshold)

This is the difference between a Sept. 10 person and a Sept. 12 person.

I have had the "you are eit... (Below threshold)

I have had the "you are either with us or against us" line tossed in my face again and again lately. By lefties who 1) think Bush was talking to them (i.e. dropping the context of the remark) and 2) really don't want anything to do with the war anyway.

I have to keep saying that it is not Bush or even the Republican party that presents all of us with that choice. It is the jihadis. Thanks to the commision for saying the same thing.

Page number clarifications:... (Below threshold)

Page number clarifications:

The quoted passage appears on printed page number 362, about halfway through the page. In the PDF, that is page 379 (faces page 378).

Sounds like the Commission ... (Below threshold)

Sounds like the Commission is saying - 300 pages into the report - what the rest of us have been saying for the past three years. As Mike says in his comment, this realization is the difference between a September 10th and a September 12th person, it is the core fact that Bush understands but Kerry does not, and it is why libertarians are going with Bush and not Kerry.

It's just too bad the Commission didn't have the guts to put that conclusion in the first paragraph of the Executive Summary where even the dumbest, laziest and most partisan reporters can spot it (using search tools and buttons is apparently something journalists, unlike bloggers, are not trained to do).

The scary point to all this... (Below threshold)

The scary point to all this is that precious few Americans will actually go to the trouble of researching what the media reports to be contained in the Commission Report.

I have contended that the "war on terror" is in fact a religious conflict from the beginning, not necessarily Christian vs. Islam, but rather Every-Other-Religion-In-The-World vs. Radical Islam. As long as there are Islamic Fundamentalists in the world who espouse the view that the "infidels" must be destroyed, we'll have problems. Why do the bulk of Arab Nations hate the U.S.? Because we're perceived as a Christian nation, due to our founding principles, and because of our Western philosophy, a product of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values.

Sadly, blanket extermination of the current crop of radicals is the first step to a solution. Barbaric as it may seem to be, we ultimately have no other choice.

There seems to be a total l... (Below threshold)
Walter Kirby:

There seems to be a total lack of principle, honesty, and courage in the mainstream media. They concern themselves with the political games of correctness and power and ignore the basic values of human life and liberty. They are essentially on the side of the terrorists.

Even the very politicized a... (Below threshold)

Even the very politicized and partisan bickering 9/11 Commission has to tell some obvious truths – it is Islamic fundamentalists who are trying to kill us; they cannot be negotiated with; the threat doesn’t go away by pretending that it isn’t there.

Now if the media would lift its head out of whatever dark place of denial it has it stuck into...

Most people hasten to make ... (Below threshold)

Most people hasten to make this distinction between radical Islam and the rest. That may be a useful distinction when we're talking about humane treatment of next-door neighbors. But we need to give consideration to the possibility that Islam and the Koran will always generate a radical faction. If some noticeable fraction of muslims will always be radicalized through contact with the Koran, due to what's said in Suras 2 and 9 perhaps especially, then what does it matter if the rest of muslims are supposedly moderate? The contribution of rank-and-file muslims to terrorism is to breed new young men, some fraction of whom will always read the Koran and be radicalized. I think the Koran will always generate radicals from among muslims and I think that we should therefore endeavor to destroy the faith in Allah, Mohammed, and the Koran.

The administration's castin... (Below threshold)

The administration's casting of the war as against "terrorism" is only a political expedient. Terrorism is a strategy, not an enemy. The real war is against radicalized Muslims. We all understand that. You do. I do. Even the Saudis do. Of course the Democrats do. Lord, if they understand anything, let them understand that…

That means this part of the report is pure politicalization.

The President can't come out and say that we must eliminate a certain percentage of Muslims for solely what they believe and how they act out their beliefs, in order to remain alive ourselves. That would cause a firestorm of recrimination. It is not politically possible for him to utter such words, for it flies in the face of the patently false but popular multi-cultural and morally relativistic axiom that "all religions are morally equal." This is one of the biggest lies on the planet. But the president cannot challenge this orthodoxy.






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