“The war on terror is over”

Michael Hirsh, writing in the National Journal, in the course of a discussion of the Obama administration’s new Middle East policy quotes an unnamed State Department official as declaring that “the war on terror is over.”

The Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively “moderate” Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The Muslim Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago, leading then-dissident radicals such as Ayman al-Zawahiri to join al Qaida.

It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists. “The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.” In a Tuesday night update to this post, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor clarified that while the “war on terror” concept has been dropped, “we absolutely have never said our war against al Qaida is over. We are prosecuting that war at an unprecedented pace.”

The new approach is made possible by the double impact of the Arab Spring, which supplies a new means of empowerment to young Arabs other than violent jihad, and Obama’s savagely successful military drone campaign against the worst of the violent jihadists, al Qaida.

Some of the smarter hardliners on the Right, like Reuel Marc Gerecht, are coming to realize that the Arab world may find another route to democracy–through Islamism. The question is, how will this play politically at a time when Obama’s GOP rival, Mitt Romney, is painting the president as a weak accommodationist?

via Can Obama Safely Embrace Islamists? – 2012 Decoded.

Thus, the end of the war on terrorism does not mean that we can have a big celebration in Times Square, much less that we can stop getting strip searched at airports.  It means that the administration wants to cozy up to at least some jihadists, without considering them our enemies.

Wise or unwise?

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com/ Frank Gillespie

    Both unwise and naive.

  • http://puttingoutthefire.blogspot.com/ Frank Gillespie

    Both unwise and naive.

  • Joe

    Actually, its nothing new at all. So for decades we supported and worked with Mubarak. Realpolitik told us that this was better than having Mubarak as an enemy and was even outright useful at times. Now Realpolitik tells us that it might be better to attempt a similar relationship with the Egyptian military rulers and the political wing of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. After all if we make them our sworn enemies they will find support elsewhere and we will either have to get used to the idea of a radical Islamist Egypt or invade it.

  • Joe

    Actually, its nothing new at all. So for decades we supported and worked with Mubarak. Realpolitik told us that this was better than having Mubarak as an enemy and was even outright useful at times. Now Realpolitik tells us that it might be better to attempt a similar relationship with the Egyptian military rulers and the political wing of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. After all if we make them our sworn enemies they will find support elsewhere and we will either have to get used to the idea of a radical Islamist Egypt or invade it.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’ll believe it’s over when I no longer have to disrobe and be injected with electromagnetic rays before setting foot on an airplane.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’ll believe it’s over when I no longer have to disrobe and be injected with electromagnetic rays before setting foot on an airplane.

  • Stone the Crows

    What it means is the Obama administration is looking to reduce the military budget and move the difference over to domestic side, and in so doing not increase the budget as much as expected and call it a budget cut. I doubt this will raise much of a stir during the elections, the average voter is more concerned with the economy and healthcare.

  • Stone the Crows

    What it means is the Obama administration is looking to reduce the military budget and move the difference over to domestic side, and in so doing not increase the budget as much as expected and call it a budget cut. I doubt this will raise much of a stir during the elections, the average voter is more concerned with the economy and healthcare.

  • Tom Hering

    Terrorist attacks on us may have declined in ambition and frequency, but our war on terrorists is far from over. We’ve created an anti-terror program that dwarfs most other government programs (just look at this interactive map) and I can’t see it being defunded any time soon, if ever.

  • Tom Hering

    Terrorist attacks on us may have declined in ambition and frequency, but our war on terrorists is far from over. We’ve created an anti-terror program that dwarfs most other government programs (just look at this interactive map) and I can’t see it being defunded any time soon, if ever.

  • SKPeterson

    As Joe @ 2 notes – this is more same ol’ same ol’ foreign policy. A simple “they’re bastards, but they’re our bastards focus on coopting whatever political structure comes about. Hence, the “Islamism is a path to Democracy” retrench. I think the subtext of this reveals the reality of the War on Terror: that despite the constant drumbeat of “Islam is a religion of peace” rhetoric, the government effectively operated the War on Terror with an overwhelming focus on Islam and Islamist-based terror. This subtle change seems to indicate that we think we can subvert any movement to at least create “stability” or its appearance. That is what “we” want more than democracy or human rights in the Middle East – we want stability. Even if its a faux and transitory simulacrum of stability.

  • SKPeterson

    As Joe @ 2 notes – this is more same ol’ same ol’ foreign policy. A simple “they’re bastards, but they’re our bastards focus on coopting whatever political structure comes about. Hence, the “Islamism is a path to Democracy” retrench. I think the subtext of this reveals the reality of the War on Terror: that despite the constant drumbeat of “Islam is a religion of peace” rhetoric, the government effectively operated the War on Terror with an overwhelming focus on Islam and Islamist-based terror. This subtle change seems to indicate that we think we can subvert any movement to at least create “stability” or its appearance. That is what “we” want more than democracy or human rights in the Middle East – we want stability. Even if its a faux and transitory simulacrum of stability.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith: “It means that the administration wants to cozy up to at least some jihadists, without considering them our enemies.

    Wise or unwise?”

    Unwise.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lutheran Culture Warrior Dr. Gene Veith: “It means that the administration wants to cozy up to at least some jihadists, without considering them our enemies.

    Wise or unwise?”

    Unwise.

  • –helen

    So we’ll “cooperate with” (aka subsidize) various vicious regimes and turn a blind eye and ear to their persecution of their own Christian minority, in existence since St Paul in many places.

    Just as we have been doing.

  • –helen

    So we’ll “cooperate with” (aka subsidize) various vicious regimes and turn a blind eye and ear to their persecution of their own Christian minority, in existence since St Paul in many places.

    Just as we have been doing.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Realpolitik. What Joe said. By tht I mean it is wiser than ideological confrontationism, which will cost more money and blood, on BOTH sides.

    Anyway, history shows you that it is easier to be a radical when you are hungry, isolated and confronted with the prospect of imminent war. Wealth, peace and materialism are in most cases (not all, there are always exceptions) the greatest threat to fundamentalism etc. I say this only semi-tongue in cheek: Give Hollywood and trade, not bombs and sanctions!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Realpolitik. What Joe said. By tht I mean it is wiser than ideological confrontationism, which will cost more money and blood, on BOTH sides.

    Anyway, history shows you that it is easier to be a radical when you are hungry, isolated and confronted with the prospect of imminent war. Wealth, peace and materialism are in most cases (not all, there are always exceptions) the greatest threat to fundamentalism etc. I say this only semi-tongue in cheek: Give Hollywood and trade, not bombs and sanctions!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X