January 13, 2004

Is There a War on Terror?

Matt Miller has a column claiming that Howard Dean's main original contribution to the campaign is his omission of the phrase War on Terror in his recent foreign policy speech.

The problem is that Mr. Miller sets up a big fat straw man. The Bush administration, he accuses, is supposedly creating a false situation where terrorism is likened to warfare but is not warfare. It is a situation where war will stretch on forever and Democrats will be at a permanent electoral disadvantage because Republicans are simply better at war.

I believe we're at war. It is a pre-Westphalian war, which makes sense because the aggressors of this war reject Westphalian precepts of national sovereignty and are acting in ways that simply don't fit into the Westphalian intellectual framework. This is not the fault of George W. Bush, Karl Rove or the Republican National Committee. And no amount of foot stomping or complaints from Democrats is going to change it.

In Afghanistan, we had to quickly shift into a combat style that included horses and pack animals, a style of combat that had long been superseded by modern military doctrine. But the terrain and infrastructure and the nature of the enemy and our allies meant that horses made a quick comeback. The larger War on Terror is exactly the same way. Al Queda wants and will insist on a war that ignores Westphalian norms. We cannot ignore this reality or, strange as it may sound, we will lose.

HT RealClear Politics

Posted by TMLutas at January 13, 2004 09:02 PM