The president and the war on al-QaedismThe president's poor public speaking skills have often been the butt of jokes by late-night comedians and Democratic partisans. However, this weekend, this bit him in the hand. The president said of the war on terrorism:
"I don't think you can win it," Mr. Bush replied. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."
And Vice-President Cheney said Sen. Kerry was causing confusion???
In this case, I think the president absolutely right. Though probably not in the way he intended... whatever he intended.
You're as likely to end terrorism as you are to end poverty or end hunger. It's a nice goal, something to strive for, but not something that's ever going to be fully achieved. Terrorism wasn't invented on Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorism wasn't invented by Arabs or Muslims. And terrorism won't go away when or if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed.
But even the second part of his comments, making terrorism less acceptable, is never going to happen under the president's strategy (such as it is).
Al-Qaedaism, a more appropriate name for our enemy than terrorism, will not disappear just because we invade random, non-threatening countries, occupy them and install puppet regimes. Those things will INCREASE the danger because it gives aid, comfort and ammunition to the extremists. It's getting rid of one terrorist but creating five more. This has already happened in the last two years.
Furthermore, the president can piss on European allies just because they opposed our unnecessary and unjust conquest of Iraq. But he (WE) needs them to fight al-Qaedaism. Europe has a huge Muslim population. Many European countries have had trouble integrating their North African and Middle Eastern populations in larger society. This can be fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaedaism.
An international combat against terrorism requires an international effort. And unless we're prepared to invade every country where there's a potential for extremism (not that I want to give the neo-cons any ideas), we need allies. Allies doesn't mean sycophants or butt kissers; allies mean those who share common critical interests but don't necessarily agree with us on every single issue.
Sure, the president backpedalled (with one foot, since the other was stuck in his mouth) shortly after he said it. But he was right. Even if accidentally.