Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush on terrorism

I listened to Bush's speech at the National Endowment for Democracy on the War on Terror. I thought that while his description of the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan was much too rosy, he made some powerful points. I agree with his comparison of Islamofascism to communist and Nazi totalitarianism. I agree that appeasement and compromise are not the way to deal with this thread. However, one specific point Bush cited as evidence that Islamofascist terrorism is not driven primarily by the actions of Western countries was misleading:

The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian school children in Beslan.

True, of course, but radical Islamic terrorism in Russia is largely a reaction to the Russian government's brutal, not to say genocidal, occupation of Chechnya. I hasten to say that this is not an excuse or a justification for terrorism, or a call to "understand" the terrorists. Nothing justifies the deliberate murder of helpless civilians, be they children or adults. But the point is that Russia was not simply randomly targeted because the Islamic radicals seek to sow terror everywhere.

That said, I agree with Bush on this:

In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.
That's a valid and important point, and there's no need to bend the facts to prove it.


Dean said...

I agree with his comparison of Islamofascism to communist and Nazi totalitarianism.

There is a vitally important difference between so-called 'Islamofascism' (I don't like the term, as it is used almost exclusively by right wing Bushoids) and communist/Nazi totalitarianism, and that is the degree of power that they wield. Communist/Nazis would not have, could not have, caused the havoc that they did if they did not have state power to wield. The Islamic radicals who attacked the WTC did not and do not have that power, nor are they ever going to, even it they manage to come to power in some tiny, backward state.

The two are very, very different. Equating them trivializes the staggering human cost of the totalitarian movements of the 20th century that killed hundreds of millions of people and laid entire nations waste.

The comparison also exaggerates the threat that Al Quaeda poses, which is on the grand scale of things, trivial.

Rainsborough said...

Yes! Germany in the late thirties was the world's most formidable military power, the Islamofascists wield only insignificant power.
One can note only with bitterness that if it's true that "the United States and other free nations [would be] less safe with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources," that possibility must is a result of Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq.
But who believes that Zarqawi could best the Shiites, the Kurds, and the secular Sunnis? And if he did, and came to rule a shattered and straitened Iraq, what danger would it pose to its neighbors? Would it represent a model to be emulated? Or a military threat of any significance?
Meanwhile, our presence in Iraq is swallowing up going on trillion dollars of resources that could be applied to staving off real dangers of future terrorist attacks, and is perceived as an ongoing insult and humiliation by those Islamists who are readiest to attempt such attacks.
Bush's most recent attempt to explain his stratergy makes no more sense than did his original case for war. He remains as much as ever a foolish and careless guardian of our security. But, in must be conceded, in a supremely supercilious and condescendingly arrogant manner.

Rainsborough said...

Juan Cole is the blogger with a little curl, when bad horrid. But today, take away some of the cruder descents into sarcasm, he is very good on the president's speech. A sample:
Look at America's friends in the Middle East-- Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, etc., etc. Which one of them is on the verge of being taken over by al-Qaeda? Why, al-Qaeda had to plan out 9/11 from Europe because it could not operate in the Middle East! An al-Qaeda meeting in Cairo would have had more Egyptian government spies in attendance than radical fundamentalists!