Tag Archives: war on terror

Call Me Ishmael…

Strategic threat or law enforcement problem?

The suggestion that al Qa’eda poses more danger to the well-being of ordinary Americans than a tanking economy that threatens the jobs and homes of millions seems preposterous to any sober observer: al Qa’eda is a small conspiratorial organisation that once, seven years ago, managed to pull off a spectacular attack on US soil, and has over the same period pulled off a few more such grisly stunts in London, Madrid, Casablanca and Bali. It controls no territory and is incapable of disrupting the defences of even the weakest states on the planet, much less the most powerful. To suggest it poses a greater risk than the most profound slump in three generations made a good Halloween story, nothing more.

But if McCain was simply trying to scare people into voting for him, he was inadvertently laying bare the fallacy at the heart of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror”, which made the organising principle of US foreign policy a campaign against a handful of extreme jihadists.

McCain regularly repeats the preposterous mantra that the struggle against Islamist radicalism is the “transcendent challenge of the 21st century,” but make no mistake, Barack Obama falls victim to the same flawed logic when he proclaims Afghanistan “the right war” and promises to get out of Iraq in order to free up more troops to send to “stamp out the Taliban”, as he put it one of the presidential debates. Continue reading

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