War on terror is far from over

April 27, 2012


“The war on terror is over,” or so claims an unnamed senior State Department official, as reported by National Journal’s Michael Hirsh in his recent article “The Post al-Qaida Era.”

Really? Well, if the war is over, I must have missed the peace treaty signing ceremony. I also haven’t noticed a decline in incendiary rhetoric, or the disarmament — or at least laying down of arms — that usually accompanies the end of war. Does this mean we can do away with full-body scanners and TSA pat-downs?

Those who believe the war against radical Islamists is over never really believed we were fighting one. They have been in denial from the start. Each time they have been proven wrong — the land for peace formula between Israel and her enemies is just one example among many — they have simply moved on to the next level of denial. Now they have reached rock bottom with nowhere else to go and are telling us we can live with Islamism.

Hirsh references Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan institution focusing on national security and foreign policy, whom he calls one of the “smarter hardliners on the Right.” Hirsh says Gerecht is among an emerging group of policymakers and analysts coming to realize that “the Arab world may find another route to democracy — through Islamism.”

This is preposterous. It is like saying the route to women’s rights is through patriarchy. War is peace. George Orwell lives! Radical Islamists have made it perfectly clear they have no interest in joining the democratic process. They are at war. They are at war with the West.

Gerecht’s kind of thinking is beyond self-delusional. It is suicidal. Any hope that the Arab Spring and the Middle East elections that result will make any difference in the way radical Islamists deal with or perceive the West is misplaced. Elections are meaningless without a framework guaranteeing individual rights. History is full of examples where elections brought to power dictators who then either gamed the system so their re-election was guaranteed or made sure there were no more elections.

Closer to reality is a report in the April 15 London Sunday Times. Reporter Hala Jaber writes from Cairo about the forthcoming Egyptian elections: “Voters fear the imposition of the veil and a harsh penal code if radicals win the election.”

Ask the radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada if he thinks the war against the West, which is the proper way of framing this conflict, is over. British Home Secretary Theresa May has possibly blown an opportunity to deport Qatada because of a bureaucratic snafu over a deadline for his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Now there is a good chance that Qataba, described by a judge in Spain as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, could be released from prison instead of being deported to Jordan as planned.

Just because the leadership of al-Qaida has been killed, imprisoned or forced to run, does not mean that the fighting stops. In fact, though the “war on terror” may be over as a concept, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor assured Michael Hirsh, the war against al-Qaida rages on. But the war is much broader than al-Qaida. Terrorism flows from a belief system and worldview that will not be crushed because a few al-Qaida leaders are gone.

The secular left refuses to understand this. Terrorism is not the only tool in the arsenal of radical Islamists. Infiltration, Islamic schools, the building of mosques in the midst of the “Great Satan,” the running of Muslim candidates for public office, the demands for more “rights” and civil liberties, while Islamists deny such things to the nations they dominate — all of this and more proves the war by whatever name one wishes to call it is not over. In fact, it is just beginning.

Radical Islamists are attempting to unify the Muslim world under Sharia law and other dictates of the extremist wing of the religion. If they succeed, they will most assuredly redouble their efforts to eliminate Israel and come after America.

The war on terror continues. We need to fight it to win it.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


FalseHopeNoChange 5 years, 12 months ago

If the 'war on terror' is over. Let's save money and get rid of the TSA. The 'Islamic Brotherhood' has a seat in the white house. Napoleontano 'allows' them to cross the southern borders 'without' being checked out. So why not?

Excellent article

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 12 months ago

Why don't you just write a 'political thriller' and self-publish it on Amazon for the Kindle? That way you might at least make $.99 here and there out of your vivid imagination...and you don't even have to make sense!!

Patricia Davis 5 years, 12 months ago

Would you please define: The 'Islamic Brotherhood' has a seat in the white house.

jafs 5 years, 12 months ago

Oh my - Muslims are building schools, mosques, participating in our political process, and exercising their rights under our constitution.

Whatever should we do?

I know - let's deny them those rights because they're Muslim - oh wait, we can't really do that with any integrity. Hmm.

Thomas manages to ignore a fundamental distinction, between Muslims and radical extremist Muslims, commonly called Islamists. This is a rather large and glaring jump, and a dangerous one.

We can't possibly "win" any sort of conflict with the intolerant by simply becoming more intolerant ourselves.

Fossick 5 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, Bush should have stuck with the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. That was so much more effective.

There exists a concept called the Euphemism Treadmill. What it means is that every time something gets a bad name, instead of changing the thing, management (both government and private) changes its name. Users become customers become clients. Idiots become the retarded become challenged become special. The Euphemism Treadmill is good for one thing: wearing out perfectly good words. It never occurs to managers to change the thing that is giving the words a bad name.

The War on Terror is the same concept. It's an idiotic slogan designed for politics, a catch-all under which various government programs and policies that cannot be justified on their own can somehow be justified in the whole. It is how we end up with rubber-gloved government agents groping octogenarians in the name of safety.

We could have provided better safety for a whole lot less money had the "War on Terror" been limited to reinforced cockpit doors and a free nightstick for every traveler instead of installing naked scanners and invading other countries. And we might not have worn out the slogan, either.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 12 months ago

Maybe politicians could simply stop using the term "WAR on..."??? After all, "war" is a word of violence. A word that encourages people to not just think of reinforced cockpit doors, but also of "free nightsticks for every traveler". Yeesh.

And maybe certain folks could learn to grasp the concept that human beings are far more than a single characteristic??? Or at least try to grasp the difference between a relationship (e.g. "client") and a characteristic (e.g. "retarded")?

Or maybe you just don't care...because, after all, "those" people don't meet your standards of perfection.

Fossick 5 years, 12 months ago

Acornwebworks: "Or maybe you just don't care...because, after all, "those" people don't meet your standards of perfection."

Breathe deep the gathering gloom, watch lights fade from every room. You have to be freaking kidding me - free nightsticks is power to the people, the opportunity to be individually and collectively empowered rather than dependent upon blue-gloved retards to protect you. Or perhaps you will willing suffer any indignity to sleep well at night?

It seems that you have missed the point. It is that when the name changes and the reality does not, nothing changes. Special or retarded, no calculus is being done, so why change the title?

I would be happy if politicians would stop declaring war on abstracts, but the fact is that rhetorical war induces the unthinking to take sides, which is why politicians declare it. Are you for poverty or against it? No one likes poverty, so declare war on it and the unthinking fall in line. That will be sufficient in the simpleton world of simpleton politicians. That poverty remains nonetheless is the point and the indictment.

Acornwebworks is concerned about my emotions. But emotions have never fed a single child. Whether I care is as irrelevant as whether you grok (you don't). Forget about emotions and join us in the sweaty, dirty, smelly world of reality, where real children suffer and hunger, and where meals are served on dirty flatware because that is all that's available.

jafs 5 years, 12 months ago

Some words are put-downs, while others aren't.

That's why they may matter to those who are being called those names.

Free nightsticks to all - what an odd concept. Will there be any rules/guidelines/training for their use? Or just a frightened/angry mob with weapons?

Emotions on their own may not accomplish much, but they are often the precursors and motivating factors for actions that help.

If one isn't compassionate about suffering, why try to change it?

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 12 months ago

Well...no...not really. As your link says:

"Look, if you’re working for a government entity and you’re going to issue a report dealing with people who are prone to buy into conspiracy theories, you may want to take note of the fact that they are some paranoid people and that they’re going to overreact once they find out about the report, especially when Alex Jones gets the information."

Got that? "...dealing with people who are prone to buy into conspiracy theories, you may want to take note of the fact that they are some paranoid people and that they’re going to overreact..."

So...you want to stop overreacting now? Or are you too paranoid? Just curious.

JackMcKee 5 years, 12 months ago

It's a war on an idea. Of course it's never going to end. What we can end is the war on our civil liberties.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 12 months ago

There's no war on our civil liberties, either. There's just people like you who seem to think that your individual liberties are far more vast and exclusive than they actually are...because the rest of us have civil liberties, too. Oh gee, darn.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 12 months ago

Good points, Jack. I always thought it was curious to go to war against a noun. We are dealing with some nasty people, but they no more represent their religion than the Phelps do theirs. Take it slow and low and build lots of schools when we can. The key here is to educate a generation of girls and women; they can eventually tame the men.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 12 months ago

World War Two killed tens of millions of people. Cutting 4% from a budget is now described as a "war" on whatever is being cut. What we really have is a policy of disrupting terrorism. And perhaps an assault on the English language.

50YearResident 5 years, 12 months ago

Cal is right about this one. The war on terror has just started. It will not end anytime soon. Until we acknowledge who the enemy is, we will not win the battle.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 12 months ago

+1. Sadly, you are right. The boys do like their toys, as long as someone else's son or daughter is doing the dying. And, for the bonus round......after they tear everything up and/or abandon it over seas, the MIC gets to build all the replacements.

Fossick 5 years, 12 months ago

jafs: "Or just a frightened/angry mob with weapons?"

God love you, jafs, you really don't grok what happened on the fourth flight of 9/11, do you? For years and years, if a plane was hijacked, it was in the passengers' best interest to be calm and to ride it out. The plane would land in Cuba, the plane would leave. No harm, no foul. Passenfer acted accordingly.

Fast forward to 9/11. Suddenly panes hit buildings rather than the Havana concourse. The first 3 hit buildings, but the fourth, which knew of the first 3, crashed while the passengers tried to re-take it. The game had changed. Now the passengers knew that passivity was no longer the ticket to survival. Now survival means stopping the hitchhiker. A dozen would-be miscreants subdued by passengers in the time since provide the proof. Do you want links?

Do you really believe that two nightsticks for each row in a plane constitutes "an angry mob with weapons?" How do you let these same people vote? The "weapon" which can subdue a terrorist but not a cockpit door is the best kind of weapon - it's like a gun that only shoots rapists. Every "Take Back the Night" chantress should dream of such an invention.

If you do not trust the people to protect themselves, how do you trust them to choose the people who are charged to protect them? Who watches the watchers?

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