Our Sort-of War on Terror
Obama’s policies are incoherent, but does anyone care?
Either by design or through incompetence, the Obama administration’s war on terror has become indefinable. In fact, to the degree that there are identifiable policies, they seem either internally contradictory or at odds with other administration policies.
The Inherited Protocols
What is the current Obama position on the so-called Bush-era war-on-terror protocols? Are they still useful in stopping terrorists, irrelevant, toxic, or sort of all three? The administration has never given us an explanation of its attitude toward the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay, the use of military tribunals, the exact status of renditions, the use of preventive detention, and the employment of the Patriot Act, especially wiretaps and intercepts.
To the extent that anyone could define the present anti-terrorism policy, it might be paraphrased along the following lines: “We rejected these protocols when, as outside critics, there was partisan advantage in doing so. But after assuming office, we found them useful, embraced most of them and even expanded some, preferred to ignore that about-face, assumed that the global and the domestic Left would not object any longer — given that their opposition was more to Bush than to his policies per se — and wish to continue these measures even as we keep quiet about them.”
The Euphemism War
Simultaneously with the flip-flop over the Bush inheritance, the administration also waged an ancillary war of euphemism. Jihad was not to be defined as an Islamist holy war against the West, but was to be officially regarded as a sort of Deepak Chopra personal struggle to achieve spiritual purity. The words Islamist and Islamism fell out of use. “The War on Terror” was rightly derided as a war against a tactic, but the phrase was wrongly not replaced with a more honest and accurate “War on radical Islamists, jihadists, and Salafists.” Absurdities, like “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters,” followed and yet were not seriously employed for more than a week even by those who coined them. According to the Department of Defense, “workplace violence” best explained Major Hasan’s butchery of 13 of his fellow soldiers at Ford Hood — an act whose real significance was the possible harm to the military’s vaunted diversity program.
(Victor Davis Hanson in National Review, January 14, 2013)http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/337578/our-sort-war-terror-victor-davis-hanson