Early Reports -- 1) The so-called War On Terror -- I say 'so-called' because it's really a terror war on the rest of us. Anyone who doubted that received a wake-up call with the morning's news (unless you were up late enough to learn the news last night). War is being waged against modernity. The civilized world is struggling to catch up and defend itself. Late last night (if you were up at 2:00 a.m Eastern time), we learned of a success.
Success in the war of terror isn't pacifying a country, it's stopping a small number of individuals. That's extraordinarily difficult to do. That's why it's so important to break up the organizations and the coordination among these groups. And it's critical to confront the states that support and sponsor terrorist groups -- all the states, not just a select few.
This stuff isn't made up -- there really are fanatics, who are plotting different ways to attack civilians. Not as collateral casualties, but as the primary targets in their war. Maybe, every so often, we need a reminder of that.
In the Middle East, Israel fights not because they're afraid of mortar rounds coming out of Gaza, even though Israelis were still being killed by these weapons after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israelis fight not because they are terrified of Katyushas packed with ball-bearings. The fear is of the next-generation of weapons -- perhaps these shells and rockets will be packed with chemical munitions, or radiological weapons using spent plutonium from the Iranian program...or worse. [There is a terrific essay in this week's New York Times Magazine that depicts the real scope of Israel's fears and motivation in the current incursion sin Gaza and Lebanon -- "Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War," by Bernard-Henri Levy -- nytimes.com/2006/08/06/magazine/06israel.html].
I'm a lefty -- and I've watched for too long as other lefties have seen common cause with oppressed Palestinians and Lebanese -- always critical of Israel. The irony is that the radical Islamist groups, responsible for provoking the Mideast violence, are hardly champions of liberal thought. They are as reactionary as one can get. I'm not a fan of Israel's tactics, but you have to walk in their shoes for a while before you can understand why Israel responds in the way it does. Unfortunately, we are being forced to learn what it might be to walk in their shoes.
The real victory in this war won't come until the enemy (and there is an enemy) changes -- abandons their lunatic fringe ideology and their pointless violence. Their rhetoric, propaganda, their attitudes and, of course, their behavior -- it's all got to go...right into the dustbin. When murder stops being exalted or glorified, the terror war will grind to a halt. And we can slowly bring down our defensive levels, too.
Those who say that miitary actions are just making things worse have a point. But, if they're asking the rest of us to just turn the other cheek...That's fine advice, if your assailant is just slapping you across the face. Of course, that's not the current threat.
On that point, I'm intrigued to see the Washington Post endorse Lieberman's independent run. Apparently, the paper isn't buying into arguments that he is a right-wing apparatchik. In today's editorial, the Post writes that Lieberman has been very critical of the Bush Administration's performance in Iraq. [Go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/09/AR2006080901632.html].
Here's where I part company with such reasoning: It seems so easy to be critical of the results, because the results have been so disastrously awful. The thing is, no one's convinced me that other tactics would produce significantly better results. This was the problem that Kerry ran into two years ago. Convince me that there is a better plan -- give me details, not a Nixonian "secret plan to end the war." It's hard to have it both ways: to support the decision to go to war, but blame the tactics for its abject failure -- for the current Mess-o-potamia.