This morning a close friend emailed me this article from CNN about this morning’s plane crash in Austin and pointed out the quote, “federal authorities said preliminary information did not indicate any terrorist connection.” My friend asked incredulously, “How is this not a terrorist attack?”
The question reminded me of a comment I made recently on Facebook where I said that in today’s discourse the word terrorism is inextricably linked with Islamic extremism. Commenters largely disagreed with that assertion, strongly objecting to what one termed a highly “narrow” defintion of the word. That narrow definition may not be accurate by Daniel Webster, but it effectively characterizes how the word is used by most non-academics around us.
After taking a moment to think about my friend’s question and my Facebook discussion on the same subject, I posed the question to the Twitterverse. I asked if the Austin plane crash qualified as terrorism. Immediately my friend @mjsamuelson –one of the most intelligent and energetic political activists I’ve ever met–responded “Not since 9/11. From that point “terrorism” had a different connotation.”
Back when Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, it was always referred to as terrorism. The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was also frequently described as a terrorist. Yet today news outlets, federal officials, and many citizens refused to call the deliberate crashing of a private plane into a building full of civilians an act of terrorism.
Is it so that the definition of the word “terrorism” changed on September 11, 2001?
In case you were somehow still unclear on Ron Paul’s Iraq policy, here it is in a no-frills message to New Hampshire voters:
To recap, Paul will end the war in Iraq and the war on terror immediately upon being sworn into office. That means he will withdraw (not redeploy, withdraw. No Clintonesque fun with semantics for Ron Paul!) all troops from Iraq. Nevermind the mass carnage that may ensue….
Anyway, in case you wondered, Paul is at 6.8 percent in NH right now, behind Romney, Giuliani, and McCain.
The din of defeatism is so loud on Capitol Hill these days when it comes to Iraq. Even Republicans are joining the cry in the interest of trying to prolong their political careers. Shame on these spineless Congressmen. While many are joining the wave of defeatist paranio, some Americans still understand the grave situation the nation would find itself in if the Democrats were to declare defeat and evacuate US troops from Iraq. They realize that, as Dick Cheney bluntly explained today, that the casualties US forces have suffered in Iraq are worth the lives saved in keeping nuke-toting terrorists off American soil. So like these perspective folks, I remain in full support of the action in Iraq, despite being well aware of past missteps and wary of more in the future. And as such it just makes me tired all over to hear this whining about Iraq.
I heard the most perfect analogy on Spencer Hughes’ radio program today. A caller said something to the effect that these whining defeatocrats remind one of the kids in the back seat that keep whining ‘are we there yet?’ The Dems (and a some of these despicable fair-weather Republicans) should grow up and act responsibly rather than pandering to masses. No we aren’t at the Grand Canyon yet. Unfortunately, in our case to turn around and go back means to declare with trumpets blaring America’s gross impotence. That is unacceptable. So if you don’t like it, shut up or bring a solution to the table.
Former CIA director George Tenet has been a handy scapegoat for Bushites looking for someone to blame for missteps in Iraq. His infamous “Slam Dunk” characterization of the connection between 9/11 and Iraq purportendly made Bush, Cheney, and Company’s decision to attack Iraq–as if no other deliberation was involved in the President making the grave decision to commit US troops belligerent action. To blame Tenet for Iraq is bogus. And Tenet is tired of it. So, in the greatest American tradition, the much-maligned former CIA director is releasing his tell-all book and making the talk-show circuit. Tenet is obviously working to clear his name by playing the “I did my job but the White House roughed me up to hear what they wanted to hear” card. That’s all well and good. He has been unfairly utilised as a pinata by the Bushigentsia. But the problem is the that other than his lofty post, Tenet is no superstar and no portrait of smashing success. It bears stating for those evaluating the impact of Tenet’s revelations a few truths. First, Tenet took his post at the CIA in 1997 under President Clinton. During Tenet’s tenure the US faced the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and of course 9/11. While the CIA has been a mess since the end of the Cold War (or perhaps before), one would expect such a venerable agency to not act entirely inept at spying on Islamic extremism. So I suggest that Tenet may have a legitimate beef with being a scapegoat for Iraq, but maybe his poor record with the agency should be examined before we join his pity party.
David Welna’s piece for NPR (click here) captures the mood of the Senate as it debates the vote on the non-binding resolution condemning the President’s proposed “surge” of troops in Iraq. Obfuscation reigns as political posturing dictates the path to a vote (or not) on a resolution that effects nothing but to say that the majority of the Senate opposes the “surge.” This, folks, is Washington, D.C. at its best. Kansas’ Pat Roberts put it best: “We appear like lemmings, splashing in the sea of public concern, frustration, and anger over the war in Iraq.”
americanrevolution is convinced that Islamic Fundamentalism may be our long-awaited replacement for communism as a long-term ideological foe in another battle where the primacy of democratic government is at stake. One of the loud voices in the verbal arena has been Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American doctor who has come upon notoriety by way of her particularly harsh tirades against Islam. A New York Times piece from last March explains that “even as she settled into a comfortable middle-class American life, Dr. Sultan’s anger burned within. She took to writing, first for herself, then for an Islamic reform Web site called Annaqed (The Critic), run by a Syrian expatriate in Phoenix. An angry essay on that site by Dr. Sultan about the Muslim Brotherhood caught the attention of Al Jazeera, which invited her to debate an Algerian cleric on the air last July.” The interview earned Dr. Sultan numerous death threats. She evidently is still making the rounds in circles where her message is pertinent and maintains a website.
While this video has been around awhile, it is certainly worth watching if you haven’t seen it.
Joe Lieberman said earlier this week that “For the Senate to take up a symbolic vote of no confidence on the eve of a decisive battle is unprecedented. But it is not inconsequential. It is an act which, I fear, will discourage our troops, hearten our enemies, and showcase our disunity.” A word to the Congress-ever heard of keeping your problems in-house? In this age of instant proliferation of information, this may be too much to ask. But Lieberman has a point. The carping about the war that permeates the media and now the Congress is ineffectual except to showcase for the world our disunity and haplessness in a time of near-crisis. Capitol Hill is very much the epicenter of the political world, and as such, the messages it sends to the world on behalf of the American people carry much weight. The Congress would do well to remember this.
It is undeniable that the Iraq venture is a mess, and presents almost the perfect Catch-22 scenario. The first response to such a situation is finger-pointing. This catharsis is soon followed by a move to develop a solution-ideally, that is. But in our case, the finger-pointing stage, inaugurated over two years ago, persists. The Iraqi Study Group was a useless exercise–a brief pause in the action. The anti-war faction has, in this past few years, developed no feasible alternatives to the President’s [perhaps deservedly] much-maligned “Stay the Course” approach.
Today, America finds itself in a situation where the winning strategy is elusive, but essential. In the meantime, through the valiant yet largely unsung efforts of tens of thousands of American soldiers, the nation is at least treading water in Iraq. They face a the worst sort of enemy- a guerilla bound to destroy America or die trying. In the face of this, the clear message America is sending from it shores is that the majority disapprove of its President, and a great many would prefer to pull out of Iraq and declare defeat. This is a clear message of weakness. It is also a clear message to American troops that most Americans and their elected officials are ready to say the 3,000 troops that have died and many thousands more who suffered severe injury did so in vain.
America should demand of its elected officials that after years of anti-war rhetoric it is high time they do their part to end the grand display of national disunity and shut up until they can provide some useful alternatives.