The war – nine months into it
She went on to cite how Lou Dobbs of CNN created quite a stir when he questioned both the government and the media about their use of the phrase, “War on Terror.”
Mr. Dobbs opined, “The government and the media for the past nine months called this the “War on Terror’ S but terror is not the enemy. It’s what the enemy wants to achieve. So S we are making a change in the interest of clarity and honesty. The enemies of this war are radical Islamists who argue all non-believers in their faith must be killed. They are called Islamists. That’s why we are abandoning the phrase “War on Terror.’ This is not a war against Muslims or Islam. It is a war against Islamists and all those that support them.”
Last December, I wrote in a commentary, “We are not in a war against terrorism – we’re in a war against religious totalitarianism (aka Islamists); terrorism happens to be their weapon of choice! And we must learn how not only to defend ourselves, but also to take the offensive and eliminate this threat before these madmen destroy our way of life.”
I applaud Ms. Parker and Mr. Dobbs for having the fortitude to call a spade a spade and hope both of these reporters continue to speak their conscience. I also believe the government is purposely misnaming the war because it does not to want inflame the passions of 1.2 billion Muslims around the globe.
Is this political legerdemain? Absolutely not – it’s called strategy. It’s become bromidic to call this a different kind of war with a different type of enemy, however, that oversimplified characterization remains accurate.
An adjunct to this situation is that the absence of a declaration of war has caused a lack of consistency and a lack of clarity in both naming the true enemy and how we interpret the rule of law.
It appears to me that the governing construct in the prosecution of the war has been the Preamble to our Constitution: “To establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and (to) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity S”
Much of the prosecution of the war as well as the prosecution of detainees, unlawful combatants, non-battlefield combatants, etc., will continue to fall into gray areas. No one wants to abrogate the Constitution, but there has to be a way to classify and prosecute people such as John Walker Lindh, (the American Taliban), Richard Reid, (the shoe bomber), Zacarias Moussaoui, (the only person charged in the Sept. 11 attacks) and Jose Padilla, also known as Abdullah Al Mujahir (of dirty bomb notoriety.)
I fully suspect the foregoing statement will elicit accusations of fascism from some of our readers (I can almost read the letters to the editor now), but that simply is not the case. While we should never silence healthy debate, we do need to avoid bumper sticker mentality, and the “party out of power” penchant for finding American villains.
I doubt that the government will rename the war to “The War Against Islamists” anytime soon because the term is too highly charged in a world fraught with jealously over American pre-eminence in almost every aspect of life on the planet. (That’s not jingoism; that’s fact.)
For all the talk around the world about how bellicose we’ve become because we’re the only true superpower, the administration thus far has acted with great restraint.
Thus we will continue to fall back upon accords such as the 1907 The Hague Treaty on the rules of war, which defined “Unlawful Combatant” and states very clearly, “an unlawful combatant is entitled to whatever rights the capturing party wants to give them.”
The government will also use our own laws governing conduct of Americans vis-à-vis foreign armed services to support their position; i.e., Americans can lose their citizenship by entering into the armed services of a foreign state that is at war against the United States. Thus individuals who fall into those scenarios are not guaranteed rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The “America is always at fault crowd” will cry foul, stating that some codicil of law or treaty is being interpreted too narrowly. However, the signatories to the Hague Treaty deemed it expedient to declare “that until a more complete code of the laws of war can be drawn up S in cases not covered by the rules adopted by them, the inhabitants and the belligerents remain under the protection and governance of the principles of the law of nations, derived from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and from the dictates of the public conscience.”
I don’t think we’re guilty of violating the law of nations or the laws of humanity or the dictates of public conscience in the prosecution of the war. I also think that the best way to honor the victims of 9/11 is to follow a strategy that allows the United States to win the war.
Butch Mazzuca writes a weekly column for the Daily.