When I find myself in agreement with George Will, my initial reaction is to check my position to see if I’ve shifted too far to the right.
Today in the Washington Post, I see Will has come to my position. Too fucking late for the good of the country and the world, George, but welcome to reality.
(Sorry. I told myself when I began I’d remember “I fucking told you so” is not a position to win elections although it’s a great conversation starter for Sunday school class.)
After the Sept. 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, I thought the U.S. should have responded as if the nation was going after a gang of murderous thugs. Afghanistan could either take the suspected ring leaders like Osama bin Laden into custody and extradite them or Afghanistan would be treated as a belligerent nation.
But I essentially saw it as a law enforcement issue. For two main reasons.
1. We weren’t dealing with a nation attacking us.
2. The culprits were criminals. Treating them differently than murder conspirators merely elevated them.
Certainly the military would be used to get Osama bin Laden just as SWAT is used to break down doors when needed on a raid. Division sized SWAT units if necessary with B-52s, but the role would essentially be the same and once the battlefield was cleared you’d send in the FBI for intelligence and evidence gathering.
It is not dissimilar from how the U.S. operated after the first World Trade Center bombing. And guess where the culprits are? In prison.
Where is Osama bin Laden? Forgotten by President George W. Bush, who notoriously once said he didn’t care where bin Laden is and didn’t think about him much.
So much for bringing the perpetrators to justice, as Bush once told the American people would happen.
Remember how united the world was behind us after Sept. 11th? Syria gave us good intelligence. Iranians lit candles. Europeans surrounded our embassies to symbolically form protective walls with their bodies.
Imagine if bin Laden and his crew had been taken into custody and led on a perp walk into court? Justice. Law. Truth. Honor. Decency. Civilization. These words would still mean something when used to describe the United States.
The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.” The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.
Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry’s belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that “many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.” In a candidates’ debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be “occasionally military,” it is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world.”
Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a “senior administration official,” insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:
“The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren’t for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It’s like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn’t work.”
This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike “the law enforcement approach,” does “work.”
Too bad only those of us in the blogosphere, blogtopia, military professionals and countterrorism experts saw that while conservatives like Will criticized our stance.