Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Is the War Over? Did We Win? Are You Sure?

In January 2006 Whitecaps blogged We're At War ... Or Something. That blog post mentioned several "wars" including the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, the War on Illiteracy, and of course the war du jour, the War on Terrorism.

How will we know if we've won (or lost) the War on Terrorism? For that matter, how will we know when it ends? Who will sign the treaty on behalf of the terrorists?

The Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, gives us a hint of just how difficult answering those questions is. On March 12, 2007, it released an updated report titled Combating Terrorism: The Challenge of Measuring Effectiveness. The report doesn't answer the questions in a way that will satisfy most of us, but it does provide some useful insight into terrorism as process.


Anonymous Dan Gookin said...

Wars need to be "against" not "on" in my opinion. Was President Johnson the first doof to mess this up with the "War on Poverty" or does this echo back further in our well-intentioned but misguided history?

The War on Terror is perfect in a twisted, sick Orwellian way. There is no terms for victory, only a machine that can create an endless supply of enemies, subtle or gross, domestic or foreign, as required to divert the attention of the populace. In that vein, Osama Bin Laden will never be found, the Islamists will continue their campaign of hate. If Bin Ladin were caught then cries from the populace for an end to the War on Terror and accountability would need to be addressed. But it's in neither party's best interest to have such a thing, so the War on Terror will plod on for generations until it becomes as American as the Food Pyramid and low-flow toilets.

War is necessary. But war is, by design, brutal and terrible. It's supposed to be. That's because war should and must be the last resort or a desperate response. But like that prophetic episode of Star Trek, we've made war sanitized and safe. War is "over there." It's on-going, yet it's made so that it doesn't impact the life of the daily fast-food chomping, cell-phone chatting, SUV-driving, plastic American. We need not worry. Our kids will suffer, but we're okay. This is an awful attitude.

If the government were serious, we'd deploy full strength and deal with the problem. Swift. Ugly. Lasting. THAT would be the war on terror, and it would have ended 6 months after it began.

12:04 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


That's a great comment. Thank you. All of the various "War on..." have been efforts to combat social conditions. I picture a special forces "A" team of sociologists armed with calculators and chi-square formulae.

Presidents like to use the "War on ..." card to pump up the masses, mobilize us against a not particularly well-defined enemy. Never mind that it's a war that can't be won in the traditional sense. If the only tool in your tool box is a hammer, every problem gets defined as a nail.

3:15 PM, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

No, no. There's always an alternative. That nail could in fact be a thumb or finger. Then what do you have?

2:36 PM, April 16, 2007  

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