Saturday, July 09, 2005


As lots of people have pointed out, you might have thought that the terrorist bombings in London would've caused Bush to stop claiming that we're fighting the insurgents in Baghdad so we don't have to fight them in Boston. Well, you'd be wrong:
After returning from the summit on Friday, Bush visited the British Embassy in Washington and signed a book of condolence and laid a wreath in front of the ambassador's residence.

Bush said the London attacks were a reminder of the "evil" of the Sept. 11 attacks and underscored that the United States and its allies were fighting a "global war on terror."

"We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," Bush said.
Really? Try telling that to Londoners.

You know, the way Bush tells it, you'd think the Army had successfully enclosed the Middle East in a gigantic Ziploc bag, hermetically sealing it off from the rest of the world and preserving the tangy freshness of the Fertile Crescent -- all at the same time!

If we know anything about Al Qaeda, we know that it's not a traditional foe, based in one nation and moving as a coherent army. There isn't some neatly-drawn red line on a map where we're holding the bad guys back -- the 17th Parallel, the 38th Parallel, the 59th Street Bridge, etc. I know this is a complicated concept for some of the war's architects, but it really is entirely possible for a fluid collection of terrorist cells like Al Qaeda to operate simultaneously in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Western cities. They can multitask, boys. Maybe you should, too.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised the administration thinks in such two-dimensional terms. With an attitude towards science rooted firmly in the 12th Century, I'm surprised their maps of the war don't have "Here There Be Dragons" written in the corners. They probably don't let the Sixth Fleet move past Japan for fear they'd fall off the edge of the flat Earth.


Thrillhous said...

How can you possibly think Al Qaeda's not conventionally quantifiable? Haven't you heard that we've been capturing lots of Bin Laden's lieutenants? Lieutenants!!

The flypaper strategy is a bust. But hearing the president say we're going to fight them abroad so we don't have to face them here may be compelling and reassuring to a lot of people. What do you think would be a good response to the president's reasoning? I mean, what alternative can be offered?

Otto Man said...

I do like the fact that we've captured the "number three man in Al Qaeda" about sixteen times. We've gotten so good at getting that position, I think they're likely to restructure the organization so it flows straight from #2 to #4, like an office building that skips the 13th Floor.

As far as a response to the president's reasoning, first, it's not really "reasoning." It's a series of simplicities passed off to reassure people, like the stupidity that "they hate our freedom." (As David Cross says, if they hate freedom, they'd be bombing the Netherlands.)

But, seriously, I think the way for Dems to respond is to show just how flat and unimaginative the administration's response to the war on terror is. Their campaign is marked by three things: (1) killing whatever brown folks are most easily available (2) looking tough in photo ops, and (3) responding to the last threat and not the next one.

I mean, what was the response to 9/11? Jack up airport security to the point where I can't bring tweezers on board, even though they'll never try that again because they know every flight will end with a passenger revolt like the flight in Penn.

We'll see the same thing again. Now, at long, long, long last, they'll finally upgrade the security on the New York subways -- not a lot, though, since too much and mass transit becomes unworkable -- and then al Qaeda will turn to something where our guard is still down, like the ports. And so on.

They're always playing catchup. Bush likes to talk about how we're "on the offense," but it's really a late and sloppy defense. It's time someone pointed out the Emperor has no plans.

alex supertramp said...

I agree - we should bomb the Netherlands, and I also really like catsup...err ketchup for government approval.

Otto Man said...

Maybe al Qaeda decided that everyone in the Netherlands is already bombed, so it would serve no point. (Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.)