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« Ad Hominem Arguments, Part II | Main | RNC, night 1 »

August 30, 2004


Law Monkey

I agree with Prof. Heller. Last summer I was fortunate to take a class with a U.S. Armed Forces Courts of Appeals Judge. He asked the exact question of the students, "Can we ever *win* the war on terror?" Of approximately twenty students, it was a unanimous "no."

Maybe the correct answer is, "Not in our lifetime."

Law Monkey

I've thought about this topic today, and the question I would ask those that think the war on terror can be won is, "How do you know you have won the war on terror?"

What are the conditions that exist at the end state that allow one to plant a flag and say, "We won!" I can't think of any that can't be changed by the whim of any individual.

TM Lutas

I think that there are some serious linguistic difficulties here. The problem of terrorism is twofold. There is the bare tactic, which can be taken up by a couple of high school kids with little difficulty and whose low level expressions are often called bullying. The other end of the spectrum is terror groups of global reach like Al Queda, the Iranian terror nexus, and others. While nerds and geeks the world over have no doubt fantasized about the 'feds' coming in to take out the low level terrorists making their lives a living hell, that's not what the war on terrorism is about.

What we're concerned with is practiced groups that go beyond the ALF/ELF level and have the potential to rachet things up to WMDs with all the mass mayhem that implies. We're also concerned with groups that are beyond the ability of their home government(s) to control. That level of terrorism is actually a significantly smaller problem, and I suggest that it is winnable in our lifetimes. It's a huge problem though, as big as WW II was, possibly bigger. The only bright side of things is that the casualty count (if we continue prosecuting the war properly) is likely to be less than WW II levels.

So can we eliminate terrorism entirely (which is probably how President Bush understood the question)? No, we can't. But we can win the Global War On Terror (GWOT) and our current actions (including Iraq) are significant steps on the road to victory.


The funniest part of this whole episode is that Democrats *used* to criticize Bush for setting up the "war on terror" verbal construction, in the first place. You know - because it's so simpled-minded. You know - because a "war on terror", by definition, can't be won.

Now that Bush has said precisely that, Democrats explode in mock outrage. "Can too be won!" say the nuanced, non-simple-minded Democrat Bush critics. "How dare he say otherwise!"

Hilarious stuff.

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