2007-09 What's in a name/woozle
Steyn's view is basically the Bush party line, but repackaged for marketing to a subtler and more intellectual audience. The question posed is always "do we have the stomach / will for this war?" -- never "are we going about fighting the problem in the right way?", much less "is this really a new problem?"
Lest there be any confusion over the nature of this "war":
Clinton identified bin Laden and al Qaeda as threats, repeatedly, and was taking reasonable measures to counter them -- when the neocons, the people now in charge of the War on Terror, were saying he was just trying to divert attention from his own problems (the Lewinsky and Whitewatergate witch-hunts), and lambasting him for wasting resources on "the discredited doctrine of nation-building".
The Bush administration was warned repeatedly about bin Laden and al Qaeda, including some very specific threats in major documents they could not possibly have overlooked, but did nothing -- allowing disaster to strike, thus providing a convenient excuse for an extreme response (and for extreme measures to fight an extreme threat).
The threat is real. The need for a response is real. The need for an emergency response, as regards terrorism, has never been real. Calling it World War IV is just more propaganda, trying to recast the situation (and the armed conflicts being waged in its name) as a real war like #2 (which most people now think of, whether correctly or not, as a just cause) or at least a serious threat like the Cold War (which conservatives probably remember fondly as a time when dissenters could be expeditiously put in their place, and which certainly contained the strong possibility of a real WWIII, complete with real nukes undisputed by anyone during or since, erupting at any time).
Most of the article seems to derive from this premise (that we're fighting a justified and unavoidable war), so it kind of loses me... but I was struck by this sentence:
Unlike many on the right, he does not think the Bush Doctrine – the plan, as one skeptical pal of mine puts it, "to shove freedom down the throats of the entire world whether they want it or not" – is utterly deluded.
Since when does anyone on the right disagree with Bush? Only very recently have a few military and a few non-neo conservatives dared raise their heads up to suggest that perhaps Bush's policies and decisions have been kinda less than good. This has been obvious to the rest of the world for how many years now?
I could be wrong about my assessment of the situation, but I have yet to see a substantial pro-Bush argument that wasn't largely rhetoric and reality-free thinking; Steyn's review fits this pattern.
--Woozle 21:22, 25 September 2007 (EDT)