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The New Cold War
January 19, 2004 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Cheney outlines Bush's vision of the war on terrorism in a January 14th speech, likening it to the Cold War in both scope and duration. Does this represent a change in tenor for the 2004 campaign and a move away from Reagan-esque sunny optimism that defined the 2000 run?
posted by bbrown (30 comments total)

 
I can see his point that the war on terrorism isn't going to be quick, but it sounds pretty grim to compare it to the 42 years of the Cold War.
posted by bbrown at 9:04 PM on January 19, 2004


I thought this was going to be the 04 strategy--Cheney telling the truth (or sort-of), and Bush being optimistic and lying thru his teeth.
posted by amberglow at 9:11 PM on January 19, 2004


a fear a day to keep the boogyman at bay.
posted by quonsar at 9:26 PM on January 19, 2004




"On Sept. 11, 2001, our nation made a fundamental commitment that will take many years to see through," Cheney said.

Too bad that commitment doesn't include letting the commision finish its investigation properly.
posted by homunculus at 9:35 PM on January 19, 2004


Vote for me, or you're all fucked.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:52 AM on January 20, 2004


Does this represent a change in tenor for the 2004 campaign and a move away from Reagan-esque sunny optimism that defined the 2000 run?

Fear is the only way Bush can win.

Look for a disaster right before the election.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:08 AM on January 20, 2004


Dr. Strangelove: It is not only possible, it is essential.

Enough of Dr. Doom already! Man, as much as I really don't like Bush, I'd feel a whole let better about the depressing prospect of another four years of a Bush Administration if they could dump the miserable, Monty Burns-like Cheney.

I could be dead wrong about this, but for some reason with all the chest thumping the Adm. has done in the aftermath of Afghanistan, Iraq and the Qaddafi capitulation, I think it's less likely the people will rally around this president in the event of another large-scale terrorist attack before the election.
posted by psmealey at 4:49 AM on January 20, 2004


psmealey, I'm not so sure. Better the (d)evil you know, especially if the US (or the UK) gets hit by a major terrorist incident close to the election. I wouldn't put it past the CIA to sacrifice a bit of London, for example, to further cement the relationship between the British "left" and Bush/Cheney's re-election bid.

There is no way to go but down if we continue to fight terror with terror.
posted by cbrody at 5:14 AM on January 20, 2004


"Cheney struck a surprisingly dour note and suggested only an administration of proven ability could manage the dramatic overhaul necessary for the nation's security apparatus." - What's odd about this quote is that terrorism experts all stress that military responses to terrorism tend to be ineffective or even counterproductive.

European experiences with terrorism, in the 1970's, underline the key tenet of anti-terrorism doctrine - terrorism is best dealt with through policing and international agreements and cooperation between antiterrorism police efforts. Terrorism is generally NOT considered a military problem.

The only context in which the Bush Administration's obsession with domestic "security" measures - many of which are really not about terrorism per se - makes sense is from the standpoint that Cheney is obsessed with the idea of Washington D.C. being destroyed by a nuclear weapon. In that case, draconian federal measures might be necessary.

But the channeling of American financial resources into the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq shortchanges the international police efforts which would truly reduce the likelihood of such a terrible event.
posted by troutfishing at 6:24 AM on January 20, 2004


European experiences with terrorism, in the 1970's, underline the key tenet of anti-terrorism doctrine - terrorism is best dealt with through policing and international agreements and cooperation between antiterrorism police efforts. Terrorism is generally NOT considered a military problem.

But the European experience doesn't really apply, for several reasons. For instance, it is a different kind of terrorism ... largely internal (from the IRA bombings in GB and Ireland, to the recent letter bombs sent by Italian extremists). European nations, individually, are much smaller than the US (which has thousands on miles of border, only a small percentage of which can really be effectively watched).

But the bigger point is that while there are several "anti-terrorism doctrines" ... none of them have worked. Nation states simply have not yet solved the puzzle of "asynchronous warfare". Bush is certainly trying an approach different than that of Europe (and different than that of the Middle-East and Asia as well). And that might be a mistake any of those places were actually free of terrorism ... but they aren't.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:51 AM on January 20, 2004


Accountability, what lack of accountability? Deficit, what record-breaking deficit? Listen you ... LOOK OUT!!!! TERRRORISTS!!!!! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!

I think it's less likely the people will rally around this president in the event of another large-scale terrorist attack before the election

I can think of one almost guaranteed way to make that happen: make him the objective of the attack

posted by magullo at 6:53 AM on January 20, 2004


But the European experience doesn't really apply, for several reasons. For instance, it is a different kind of terrorism ... largely internal

France, of all places, has suffered several attacks carried out by foreign Islamists not unlike those of 9-11, except maybe in scope: urban setting, public transport infrastructure used as weapon, etc.


European nations, individually, are much smaller than the US (which has thousands on miles of border, only a small percentage of which can really be effectively watched).

A large chunk of European nations do not even have borders with each other anymore, and incidentally are significantly closer to known sources of trouble.


But the bigger point is that while there are several "anti-terrorism doctrines" ... none of them have worked.

The US-funded Nicaraguan Contras, for one, have vanished. Here is a wild idea: go for the source of funding.


And that might be a mistake any of those places were actually free of terrorism ... but they aren't.

Now what would make you think that many of these places haven't tried the militaristic option first?
posted by magullo at 7:47 AM on January 20, 2004


while there are several "anti-terrorism doctrines" ... none of them have worked.

This could be an overly optimistic viewpoint, but I'm not sure about this. I was a student in Paris from 1986-1988. During this stretch, particularly during the summer of 1986, there were several bombings carried out by at least a few terrorist groups, the names of which I no longer remember. My closest brush with this was when the American Express office near the Place de l'Opera was blown up nearly 24 hours to the minute after I had gone there.

Whether owning to the tactics of the French security service (which is legendary for its ruthlessness) or not, there hasn't been a bombing in Paris in some time. Now, I do not know if the counterterrorism service can take 100% credit for this or not, but it's at least one example of an place where terrorists were active for a period, and it seemingly was stopped.

Like troutfishing, I agree that terrorism is a law enforcement problem rather than a military one. Fighiting it the way that this administration has done is akin to using a machete to remove a tumor. You'll do tremendous collateral damage, and you can be sure that you'll never remove it all. If you buy the terrorism as carcinoma analogy, the treatment of cancer involves some combination of chemo, radiation, surgical and post operative therapeutic treatment.
posted by psmealey at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2004


... rather than putting a deep gouge into the effected area and leaving it to fester and/or metastacize.
posted by psmealey at 8:03 AM on January 20, 2004


psmealey - bloody well put.
posted by troutfishing at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2004


Look for a disaster right before the election.

I wouldn't put it past the CIA to sacrifice a bit of London, for example, to further cement the relationship between the British "left" and Bush/Cheney's re-election bid.

You have to be fucking kidding me! Posting this conspiracy theory crap, that CIA is really behind the terrorist attacks... Fear is the only way Who can win?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:33 AM on January 20, 2004


Steve - That would be a partially unwarranted conclusion to draw from cbrody's comment. ( "that CIA is really behind the terrorist attacks" ) . The CIA could merely permit such an attack to occur, and not stop it.

I very much doubt that this sort of agenda could be carried out at the level of the CIA - I'd agree with you in that sense. It's far too large an organization, and it employs too many honest patriots, for such a covert agenda to be enacted without great risk of it's being uncovered and publicized in a ferocious firestorm of a scandal.

But smaller ad-hoc groups higher up in the power structure could probably conspire to quietly ( and with plausible deniability ) monkeywrench antiterrorism efforts to dramatically increase the likelihood of such a terrorist attack.

The actual agents of such an attack would, however, have their own authentic motives. They would be real terrorists who - unbeknownst to them - would have secret accomplices in high places, allies with temporarily congruent agendas : agendas which would be advanced by such a terrible attack. As such, these hypothetical terrorists would fill the function, for the conspiring bureaucratic monkeywrenchers, of "useful idiots".
posted by troutfishing at 9:40 AM on January 20, 2004


Hypothetically speaking, of course.
posted by troutfishing at 9:44 AM on January 20, 2004


We've always been at war with someone.
posted by bshort at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2004


bshort - But how many of those wars have been against an amorphous, poorly defined foe which was at once everywhere and nowhere?
posted by troutfishing at 10:20 AM on January 20, 2004


The CIA could merely permit such an attack to occur, and not stop it.

They did watch two of the 9/11 hijackers enter the country after attending an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, but I think that was a case of negligence rather than an evil conspiracy. The CIA claims they told the FBI and that the FBI dropped the ball, while the FBI claims they were never told. I hope the comission is able to detremine which it was once and for all.
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2004




OK, perhaps CIA collusion in bombing London is a bit far-fetched. But my point stands: the US government needs a steady stream of atrocities (threats and multi-colored alerts are not enough) in order to keep those Raytheon, Boeing, Halliburton et al's order books full. Not to mention in order to justify further incursions into sovereign "enemy" territories, securing by-the-by strategic economic interests at the same time.

It's just altogether too convenient to declare war on a method of waging war: you can justify almost anything if you believe that the problem of international terrorism is a "war" which can be "won". Almost everyone seems to pay lip service to this idea though, even here on "left-wing" MetaFilter.

To psmealey's comments I would add that I have been within close range of two major IRA bombings (the first destroyed part of the office building we were about to move into in London's Docklands; the second made the building I was in shake, and had me and dozens of others running down the Strand in panic, only to be told that there was another suspect device in the direction we were headed.)

Does anyone really believe that bombing areas of Belfast known to harbour and support those responsible would have led to the relatively normalised situation that exists now? Go to Belfast now and the things you notice most, apart from the occasional fading partisan mural, are the ads urging people to start their own business with the help of government funding. Sinn Fein and the DUP now hold elected office in the same regional parliament, even if said parliament is still deadlocked by religious bigots of the right.

The battle that needs to be fought is the one on poverty, ignorance, racism, greed -- and fear. Far harder than making and dropping bombs I'll admit.
posted by cbrody at 11:13 AM on January 20, 2004


We've always been at war with someone. --bshort


"We have always been at war with Eurasia."
posted by dejah420 at 11:13 AM on January 20, 2004


But the bigger point is that while there are several "anti-terrorism doctrines" ... none of them have worked. Nation states simply have not yet solved the puzzle of "asynchronous warfare".

I agree that no one has yet discovered a way to completely deactivate a terrorist insurgency, but there are examples of programs which have been more successful than others, such as that of Turkey's dealing with the Kurdish Separatist PKK. Fareed Zakaria has a good article noting this:

In the mid-1990s, Turkey was racked by suicide bombings. The leader of the Kurdish rebel group PKK explained in a 1997 interview that "suicide bombings are very much [our] tactic." Between 1996 and 1999 there were more than 20 such attacks all over Turkey. But in a few years they began to peter out...Why?

A combination of reasons: First, the Turkish military hit the rebels hard, crushing the PKK, closing down international support for them and eventually arresting its leader. But the Army directed its fire at the rebels and not the surrounding population. In fact, the Turks worked very hard to win over the Kurds, creating stable governing structures for them, befriending them and putting forward social-welfare programs--to improve agriculture and women's education, for example. The Turkish government made a massive investment (totaling well over $32 billion) in the Kurdish southeast. On a per capita basis, it has invested more in the Kurdish region than in any other part of Turkey. It also had agreed to a number of Kurdish demands on language, cultural freedom and educational reforms.


Carrots and sticks, basically. Bush seems to have the stick part down, but he and his ideologically-bound crew can't get their carrots together.

Of course, Turkey's problem with the PKK is somewhat different from the West's problem with al Qaeda, local versus global, but I think there are lessons to be learned from Turkey's experience, and from other European country's experiences, with terrorism.

One of the main problems I have with the Bush Doctrine is its attempt to define terrorism as an ethos in and of itself, rather than the tool of the weaker against a much stronger adversary, which is what it is. As Midas pointed out, it is "asynchronous warfare": a type of warfare, not an ideology in itself.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2004


dejah - Exactly. And pretty soon we'll be at war with everyone.
posted by bshort at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2004


Duckgate.
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on January 20, 2004


Does anyone really believe that bombing areas of Belfast known to harbour and support those responsible would have led to the relatively normalised situation that exists now? Go to Belfast now and the things you notice most, apart from the occasional fading partisan mural, are the ads urging people to start their own business with the help of government funding. Sinn Fein and the DUP now hold elected office in the same regional parliament, even if said parliament is still deadlocked by religious bigots of the right.

I could'nt agree more.

Thank you Cbrody. I will cut'npaste your comment to every availably discussion on this topic.

Terrorism is an annoynce to be dealt with police forces, not "the" army,
posted by hoskala at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2004


Cbrody - I had to challenge your CIA point, but I enthusiastically endorse your larger point. Trees vs. forest : in that context, I think you are right. So right, indeed, that I just have to repost this comment of yours :

"OK, perhaps CIA collusion in bombing London is a bit far-fetched. But my point stands: the US government needs a steady stream of atrocities (threats and multi-colored alerts are not enough) in order to keep those Raytheon, Boeing, Halliburton et al's order books full. Not to mention in order to justify further incursions into sovereign "enemy" territories, securing by-the-by strategic economic interests at the same time."
posted by troutfishing at 9:43 PM on January 20, 2004


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