A War on Terror, Tactics and Ideas

One of the most difficult aspects of debating with conservatives is their tendency to draw such stark philosophical lines that those that disagree with any part of their argument come off looking like a leftist moonbat. This is especially true when it comes to the “War of Terror” and the war in Iraq. Any disagreement with Bush’s tactics will come with a label of appeasing terrorists or traitor. Lost in the furor is the legitimate philosophical difference in how one should go about fighting terrorism and not eroding a political and civil structure that has endured far worse than a terrorist attack.

I have no qualms with riding the world or terrorist whether they are Islamic extremist or political separatist. My belief is that most of the tools required to fight terrorist were already in place and simply needed some tweaking to accommodate new technology and changes due to globalization. For example, the Bush administration wants to the copyright law so they can bring a case of copyright infringement case can be brought against someone before the copyrighted work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Their claim is that piracy is a large industry that funds terrorist activities. (source)

Though this may be true, the problem is now there are several Copyright cases pending that were brought under the Patriot Act that would not have met the criteria under normal circumstances.

This past week the Bush administration finally admitted to the existence of secret CIA prisons. But those prisons are in direct violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was signed by the United States in 1984. (Source )

The NSA wiretapping program is something that should have been handled following the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. However, the Bush administration again claimed its executive powers superseded the necessity to follow FISA.

The truth is that law enforcement should have every tool available to them to fight terrorism. Considering the nature of terrorist activity, certain provisions should be made for counter-terrorist activities. Bush has sought an aggressive response to terrorist. That is a good thing.

Where this debates break down is on the question, what would I do differently? It is a fair question but it is one that gets bogged down in tactics and ignores the ideologies that guide those tactics. Should the government have the power to listen to the conversations of suspected terrorist? Yes. Under what law are they given the power and how expansive of those powers? Do we have the right to capture and hold suspected terrorist? We most certainly do. Under what standards do we charge and try them is a matter of debate.

Unitary Executive Theory

This is where I part with Bush and most conservatives. There are smarter people than I that can devise plans to capture terrorist. What I am most concerned with is the guiding principles that govern their actions. President Bush operates under the Unitary Executive Theory. The theory relies on the Vesting Clause of Article II which states "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Proponents of the unitary executive use this language along with the Take Care Clause ("[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed...") to argue that the Constitution creates a "hierarchical, unified executive department under the direct control of the President… (Source)

My understanding of this definition is that as long as the President of the United States says it is legal, then it is legal and not subject to oversight by the courts or Congress. This is why we have secret prisons. This is why an American citizen was held for more than two years without being charged and denied access to a lawyer. This is why we have a debate about wiretapping and tracking banking activities. There should be no debate of any of these because there are laws on the book to deal with these issues. Again, the President has the right to challenge Congress to revise those laws if he deems them ineffective.

What To Do

The mistake that many Conservatives make is that they to have expanded this war. It has gone from a war against terrorist and Islamic extremist to a war against Islam – or Islamofacist as many call it. Which is a ridiculous terminology when looked at in historical context. (source)

1. My approach would be to define the enemy as narrowly as possible. Islamic extremist fueled by Wahhabism, poverty and repressive regimes is the central problem. There is a reason why most terrorists come from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria. Put some real pressure on these countries to reform.

2. Engage moderate Muslims. Conservatives ask where are the moderates while at the same time associating the entire Islamic faith with extremist. There is nowhere to go when one side thinks of you as evil and the other side as traitors.

3. End support for Pakistan President Perez Musharaff. He is in a no-win situation but our support for him is why remnants of the Taliban still operate in Afghanistan.

4. Have open debate in Congress on the Patriot Act, FISA.

5. Accept a level of risk. One of the argument made is that terrorist hate our freedoms. If that is the case, then we should fight for those freedoms and accept the risk of terrorist attacks as a permanent condition when living in a free society.

6. Make it a national priority to develop alternave fuel resources.

That final one is the most important one. A War on Terror, like a War on Drugs and the War on Poverty, and like on any war on an idea, is open-ended and will inevitably fail. Thus far, the administration has relied mostly on symbolic victories, rhetoric and fear to keep the American people under its fold.

A writer noted:

the administration labeled the Guantanamo detainees "the worst of the worst." Yet we now know that more than 250 have been released, that they included boys as young as 13 and that of those who remain, only 8 percent are even accused of being fighters for al-Qaeda.

the administration launched a nationwide ethnic profiling campaign, calling in 8,000 young men for FBI interviews and 80,000 more for registration, fingerprinting and photographing by immigration authorities… Not one of those 88,000 has been convicted of terrorism.

Jose Padilla, the American arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and whisked into military custody amid the attorney general's claims that he was planning to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb," has been released from military custody and is now charged only with being a marginal player in a hazy conspiracy to support terrorism. (Source)

There is no perfect way to prevent a terrorist attack. Conservatives seem unwilling to question this administration on the tactics and they seem unconcerned about the attempt to consolidate power in the executive branch. I question this approach and I’m convinced that oversight is our best defense against losing our way of life. Does this mean that I disagree with everything Bush does? No. It means that I question some things.

We are in a place where we are balancing two opposing philosophies. One states that “Peace by any mean equals war” and the other is “Peace through Tyranny”. It seems to me that Bush and most conservatives have already rejected the first statement. Now we just have to get them to reject the latter.


13 Responses to A War on Terror, Tactics and Ideas

  1. Timmer Says:
    Good post Manning
  2. Dave Miller Says:
    The silence from the conservatives, at this point, is deafening. Perhaps because they are not used to civil people disagreeing in a civil way.

    Thanks james.
  3. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    Mentioned you in my latest post :-)!!
  4. Bushwack Says:
    I have to weigh in on some of these:
    You ask to narrow our enemy down to one basic problem, radicalism, I agree with part of it. The moderate muslims have been silent, choosing instead to let the "the World" handle their problem. How do you Narrow it down when it comes from all directions?
    You mention "Poverty" as a reason for their "Hate"
    My problem with this thinking is this. Muslims kill more Muslims than any other "People" on the planet.
    Muslim nations are sitting on gold mines(OIL) for the most part yet Muslim nations are among the poorest in the world. Saudi Arabia, Quatar,Kuwait,Iran, all have had more money flowing into their nations than any other in the world, Why are they not helping their fellow Muslim brothers?
    Why has Saudi Arabia chose to build more palaces and luxuray for few than help Dafur, or Lebanon, or ???
    All we hear is America's policies cause this problem, Our foreign policy has always been one of humanity, Liberal or Republican in the WH, We have done some remarkable things in this world, after 9-11 our views changed, there is no "Standard Operating Procedure" for this WOT. and some BIG mistakes have been made. But Mistakes not only by BUSH, by every one from Carter up.

    And BTW Not all of us defend Bush to the end, a lot of us have been very critical of the way Bush is prosecuting this WOT. We have been more than critical of his actions in Iraq, or lack of.
    However, just simply saying narrow our enemy down is not at all possible, IMO until the voices of those against the violence in the name of religion are at least as loud as those for it.
  5. Bushwack Says:
    Excuse the errors in typing, I'm kind of tired after picking the Steelers to win last night... LMAO, FOOTBALL IS HERE!!!!
    Go Carolina....
  6. James Manning Says:

    I picked Miami for the upset... I'm only out one point so it's cool.

    I do believe that our foreign policy is part of the problem but you are correct, the root cause of terrorist has nothing to do with us.

    Even with all of the oil, the repressive nature of most middle eastern regimes is what is causing the problems.

    But even if we never changed on aspect of our foreign policies, we are still responsible for how we react to the reality of terrorism. Thus far, I think we're not responding the way I would like.
  7. Outside the Box Says:
    Our foreign policy has always been one of humanity

    The U.S. will continue to have problems as long as this statement is accepted as true.
  8. Bushwack Says:
    James, That was kind of what I was asking in my post a while ago, What would you like to see? How should we prosecute this war?
    The old way of "Law enforcement" and slight appeasment, got us to 9-11, The way we are doing it now doesn't seem to be producing the desired effect either. So what is the answer?
    Kind of off topic but let me vent for a bit.
    The "Far" Lefts ever present belief that "America" Is at fault for everything wrong in the world is as lame as the belief "America" has never done anything wrong in the world.
    Outside the Box should recognize that while America is not perfect it is obviously the best system in the world, if not our immigration issue would not be such a hot topic.
    Criticize, Complain,and wish to change is admirable and you have the right to do so.
    The methods in which you use those rights are the difference between actual change, and steadfast resistance to change. Perceptions of Anti-Americanism on my side of the aisle toward your side are deep, because of the actions of some of your fellow "Liberals"
    And I realize the perceptions of my side of the aisle range from racism to religious fanatics. Somewhere in the middle we can agree to unite our country and finish this fight, get our soldiers home and put the energy saved into finding new energy sources for US.
  9. James Manning Says:

    I don't totally disagree with you but I think Outside the Box is correct. Our foreign policy is partly humanitarian, economic interest and historic alliances. This combination often times create conflicts as is the case with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    One thing that we can't do is compromise our civic freedom for a sense of security. I think the other problem is that folks on the right are not willing to debate the amount of power a president should have. I often hear that we are at war... but the war on terror is more like the Cold War and not WWII. Even Bush has stated that but then he turns around and try to make Iraq the central front on fighting terror when the two have nothing to do with one another.
  10. Bushwack Says:
    James, I hear ya, But you have to look at the other side of the coin, Our policies have been geared to protect Israels right to exist (at least as far as our middle east policy) We tend to look at the greatest threat to Israel as "Our" problem, Right or wrong this has been "Our" way equally between all parties. Our policies have created strife and separation between nations, But the under belly of the problem isn't Israel, it's the lack of tolerance "toward" Israel.
    Israel is occupying an area, Granted, Israel has been brutal in its quest for survival, granted. Inhumane at times, Granted. As soon as the world comes together and decides to Stop the Islamic/Iraeli B.S. then we can move on. 50 years? 60 years? not gonna happen.
    When we on the "Right" are as intolerant of Muslims we get insulted and castugated, Never do we hear the Muslims being taken to task for their hatred of one set of people. Israel came to exist at the behest of MANY nations not just America.
    I do agree however, that we should be very careful about our liberties, We are losing some freedoms we took for granted.

    BTW, DAMN IT!!! Carolina got housed today, I think I did very poor on the picks too... Bad day all around.
  11. James Manning Says:
    You Panthers hosed me, man. But my Bears are looking dam good. We are waxing the hell out of Green Bay. Where's BZ?

    Another turnover for Green Bay. Super Bowl here we come.
  12. Dell Gines Says:
    Good post. Also defining narrowly 'the enemy' gives you better political shine when you beat them. I mean really, how do you win 'the war on terror'? It is abstract and like you said, never ending.
  13. James Manning Says:

    That's the problem. There is no way to win a war on terror unless you rid the world humans. But what we can do is fight a war against islam extremist. What we can do is push governments to reform. We are not responsible for creating Democracy in the Middle East, but we can limit our support of governments that oppress their people without destroying our economic interest. And we can do it all without giving up one single right.