What? Isn’t fighting the war on terror his strong suit? If we can’t win it, shouldn’t we reconsider the tactics? We are spending a ton of money on an unwinnable war. I find this unacceptable, and I refuse to believe that we cannot successfully combat terrorism.
How are our tactics now going to make those who use terror less acceptable in parts of the world? Which parts of the world?
Perhaps he misspoke. Perhaps there is another interpretation.
He’s right. You can’t eliminate terrorism, because terrorism isn’t an ideology or a government. It’s a tactic that anybody, regardless of their political beliefs, can use. So when you talk about “fighting terrorism”, it’s not like “fighting Communism” or “fighting Nazism”. It’s like “fighting ambushes”. We can’t fight terrorism in itself, but we can fight terrorists.
So, if we can’t eliminate terrorism, what can we do? We can, like Bush said, create conditions so that terrorism is less acceptable, both by reducing the incentives and increasing the costs of committing terrorist acts, and by helping to create a consensus that terrorism is morally indefensable.
Whether the President’s actions are serving to do that is another debate…but I agree with what he said in the segment you quoted.
Even Bush is right once in a while. There is no terrorist capital, no terrorist government, no terrorist army. Nothing to defeat once and for all. It is a criminal activity, and we are no more likely to eliminate terrorists than we are to eliminate other murderers.
Well, that is one alternative explanation; that Bush has a conceptualization of fighting terrorism as expressed by BobLibDem and Captain Amazing. I would agree with them. I probably wouldn’t call it a War on Terrorism, so as to avoid confusion about a discrete period of time, but I accept that we might call efforts to combat poverty a War on Poverty, (or curtailing drug use a War on Drugs, as Desmostylus observes).
However, it does not jibe with the way he has characterized this War on Terrorism all along. For example,
Or maybe, just maybe, his conception of the war on terror was more nuanced all along. I’m sure you could find statements about “winning” the war on drugs or poverty as well. And not from people who you’d assume meant winning a military conflict.
As I recall, Bush said from the begining that the war on terror would be a new kind of war. That it would include big flashy successes and secret successes. I seem to recall that he mentioned that the stuff which occured off of the TV screen might even be the most important part.
This is the kind of thread where the OP has violated the “morality of words.”
Basically you are just trying to force a double-speakish argument that is impossible to win and boils down into an endless battle of English syntax and a multitude of different interpretations.
Bush isn’t saying anything fundamentally different than he has ever said. He has always said that we can win against terrorists in that the terrorist groups fighting us directly (Al-Qaeda) can be rendered nearly irrelevant eventually. But he has never said that terrorism is something that will ever be completely eliminated.
What can be greatly diminished is global terror networks. It is much as organized crime can never be eliminated in the United States, and never was, but at the same time the Italian Mafia sure as hell isn’t as powerful now as it was 70+ years ago.
And that’s something you see in America and Italy, for example.
Interesting concept. Perhaps elsewhere you can help me understand how words have a morality, rather than people. I’ll just accept for the present that you feel that I was immoral in constructing the OP.
Your latter paragraph sounds exceptionally “double-speakish.” Bush, as is his manner, has been very clear on many occasions that we will “win the war on terror.” He has not qualified that. Now he does, and it is jarring with his message to this point. I for one, hope that this reflects a more nuanced and complex view of a complicated issue, and moves us away from mocking other components useful in combatting terrorism as “just seeing it as a legal matter” or “just handing everything over to the UN.”
I completely disagree. I see no semantic ambiguity on their part. For 3 years Shrub and pals have been saying we will win the “War On Terror”. They have made it the centerpiece of the Presidency. And they have been using bombastic rhetoric in an attempt to convince the public that indeed the war is winnable.
*“We will win the war on terror, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Mr. Bush said. “We will not rest, we will not tire, until the danger to America and civilization is removed.” *
“The coalition is strong. And we will win the war on terror. They must have thought we were so weak and self-absorbed, so materialistic, that all we would do was file a couple of lawsuits, if you know what I mean. We will use whatever means are necessary to achieve our objective.” Bush
“With the President’s leadership, we are fighting the war on terror – and we will win the war on terror. (Applause.) Many of al Qaeda’s known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are on the run, and we are going to hunt them down – one by one.” Cheney
"*“All the institutions of our government must be fully prepared for a struggle against terror that will last into the future. Our goal is an integrated, unified national intelligence effort. Therefore, my administration will continue moving forward with additional changes to the structure and organization of our intelligence agencies. All these reforms have a single goal: We will ensure that the people in government responsible for defending America and countering terrorism have the best possible information to make the best decisions.”
President George W. Bush, August 2, 2004*"
Note the “last into the future” and the parts about intelligence. I think you are seriously mischaracterized Bush’s position on the nature of the war on terror.
Can you explaing in more detail what you thought he meant by the war on terror? Did you think he meant only the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq? Did you think he meant only military actions?
Like I said, I think it has long been obvious that Bush has long said we can defeat terrorists. But not terrorism.
I’ve heard him make comments not far from this in the past.
Ultimately you’re just trying to further encircle me with your flawed logic, so I won’t be engaging in any more discussion about “double speak” or anything else.
I’m just saying for the benefit of anyone who likes to know the truth, Bush isn’t fundamentally changing his position. He was simply explaining it because obviously some people didn’t understand it clearly.
If you want to be really specific you can poke a lot of fun at the propaganda aspect of the “War on Terror” but you can do the same things with the propaganda spread during WWII. Sometimes you need to phrase things very simply for the vast and idiotic majority, and for good reason, such things took us into WWII and won a strong battle for freedom.
When the matter came to a more free-form and intelligent discussion Bush simply put the matter in terms that were realistic and intelligent. However this isn’t any significant change and I’ve heard administration officials tell us many times this isn’t a war in the conventional sense.
As for the morality of words, it comes from an essay I once read. It doesn’t mean specifically what it sounds like it means. The essayist was basically just lamenting how people have developed a form of debate that does nothing other than simply distort whatever the other person says in an attempt to make them look foolish or mistaken.
Obviously such a form of debate is counter to intelligent and rational discussion.
An example would be this, in an interview Kerry says, “I’ve always supported American corporations.” On the face this is not much different from just saying I’ve always supported American business, something that isn’t really a partisan statement but just general political handshaking.
Then the interviewer pulls out this question, “So you support the ecologic destruction of our pristine nation by rapacious American corporations?”
The interviewer has distorted what was originally said and set up Kerry in a logically bear trap. The interviewer might succeed in looking witty or something, but all the interviewer really did is kill rational discussion.
I recently read this article regarding Dr. George Lakoff (linguistics professor at UC-Berkeley) where he describes the concept of “framing”, and how conservatives (especially the Bush administration) are much more masterful at this technique than democrats.
Bush may be saying now that the WOT is unwinnable, but he has been a broken record for the last few years about how “we will win the War on Terror.” Taking the concept of “framing” into account, it’s easy to see that the president only chose this wording because americans like to be “winners”. When the president says “…we will win…”, that’s basically the center of the audience’s attention.
And now that that phrase has been deeply ingrained into every american’s head, he is trying to backtrack (hey, flip-flop…?) and essentially say the opposite. But it won’t matter much, because americans will continue to think that “we will win.”
I agree… but in reference to the other pseudo-wars, we haven’t had a president preaching to his constituents (read: us) that “we will win… we will win”. And that makes a pretty big difference.