Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Does Bush think we've already won the "war on terror"?

Ivo Daalder thinks that Bush may believe that.

In a guest post at Josh Marshall's Talking Points (04/30/05) blog, Daalder speculates that Bush sees the "war on terrorism," or GWOT as the policy wonks call it, has essentially been won.  And therefore his foreign policy during the first months of his second term looks like a return to the preferred policies from the pre-9/11 months of the first term.

The emphasis is back on China and rogue states.  The Islamic jihadists and terrorism as such are less of an emphasis.  Daalder notes that, of course, terrorism was talked about a lot before the election to scare voters into supporting him.  But he thinks the reduction in public emphasis on terrorism from Bush is only partly due to the election being past:

But I think something else, something more significant is going on — which is that Bush increasingly appears to think the war on terror has actually been won. That’s not as surprising as it sounds. For Bush, the invasions of Afghanistan was the first phase in the war on terror; Iraq has turned out to be the last. In Afghanistan, Bush maintains, the terrorist infrastructure was destroyed and Al Qaeda was severely disrupted. The terrorist network “has been severely diminished,” Bushed [sic] argued in his prime time press conference Thursday night. “We are slowly but surely dismantling that organization.” As for Iraq, remember that Bush callled this the “central front” in the war on terror as far back as September 2003. With January’s elections and the installation of a new Iraqi government just this week, Bush I think now feels that the terrorists are really on the run — and that he is the true victor in his war.

I am not saying that Bush is right in thinking this. He’s, in fact, deeply mistaken. Terrorists have hardly been defeated and, if anything, the botched invasion of Iraq has done wonders for their cause. But what I am saying is that Bush appears to believe that the tide in the war has turned — that victory is not only likely, but is actually at hand. (my emphasis)

There's always a danger for an administration taking its own hype too seriously.

Daalder's certainly no slouch when it comes to foreign policy.  I find his suggestions worth paying attention to.  But I wonder to what extent we would really see a difference in foreign policy if Daalder is right on this.

Because the Bush administration always seemed to see the jihadist groups as an annoying distraction from their real goals, invading Iraq apparently having been one of them from the get-go.  Certainly terrorism has a higher priority than it had for the administratio pre-9/11, when senior officials could hardly be bothered with it.

But the GWOT so far has been useful as a slogan to promote war with Iraq, pass the PATRIOT Act and scare voters into giving Bush a second term.  But the Bush administration has never given it the attention it deserves in reality.  So maybe we'll just see them downgrading terrorism as a priority even more.

Maybe before the 2006 elections they will revive the color-colded "vote for Bush" terrorism alerts just for old times' sake.


amkpantera said...

Well that's certainly something we don't need is Bush ignoring terrorism.  As you mentioned, they didn't seem all that concerned with terrorist threats before 9/11.  Hopefully, if this is indeed true, the public and media outlets will take notice of it and lamblast him for it.  We can't quit fighting now (of course I wouldn't call much of what he did "fighting").  But we do need to get someone who is competent and serious about engaging and defeating the terrorists in a way that is feasible and not detrimental to America's and other countries safety.  Guess that will be in '08 -- hopefully.

purcellneil said...

Bush has a view of the world that reflects his privileged upbringing and lifelong support ntwork of Daddy's friends, buttressed by the incredibly arrogant and even blasphemous certainty that God is on his side.  W believes he is doing God's work -- a convenient conceit for a man whose political career was built on the manipulation and exploitation of religious voters.  

Yes, he really does believe his own propaganda -- much like Alzheimer-addled Reagan, but without the medical excuse.  

The proof of Bush's insincerity and incompetence in fighting terrorism post 9/11 (we hardly need to discuss the pre 9/11 evidence) is seen in the failure of the border patrol to police our southern border without vigilante assistance; it is seen in the failure to improve public health facilities; it is visible in the failure of the Republican Congress to pass Senator Corzine's proposed legislation to secure our nation's many chemical plants; it is readily apparent in the continuing failure of the government to improve the screening and inspection of inbound shipping; it is painfully obvious as I sit in my office in New York City and consider that DHS is still floundering, the FBI still has not translated Arabic communications intercepted 3 years ago, and most obviouly -- Osama bin Laden is safely beyond our reach.

This is a partial list of the failures of the Bush administration -- the saddest part of W's failure to win the GWOT is that he isn't even trying to win, and as a consequence someday soon we will suffer another attack here at home.  Perhaps several.  

Nobody knows when or how we will learn that Bush has not exactly won the GWOT..    We have no way of knowing.

One thing I am sure of is that Bush will be caught by surprise.  And he will have no one else to blame.  And that will be no consolation to anyone.


purcellneil said...

Re-reading my comment, I realize I left off the last word in a key sentence...please note this correction:

"One thing I am sure of is that Bush will be caught by surprise, again."