Imagine my surprise when I start my day as usual with two cups of coffee and a quick scan of a couple hundred news stories. There at the top of the Drudge Report was a story telling us that the War On Terror was over. I feel kind of silly having spent the better part of the last year telling you how terror groups were a long term threat to America. I sure wish that I had received the memo in time to print a retraction.
In case you missed the glorious news, you can read the article from the Weekly Standard here. A State Department official is quoted as saying “The war on terror is over”, and “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”.
Call me skeptical, but have we really killed most of al Qaida? Sure, we have had some great successes in eliminating leadership of the groups, but I would venture to say that in comparison to 2001, the membership of al Qaida has at least doubled, and maybe even tripled in numbers. And, how about all of the other global terror groups that make al Qaida look like rookies, have they agreed to this new announcement?
I understand that the story primarily spoke of how the rise of Islamism in the Middle East was inevitable and that not all Islamist governments would become sponsors of terror. But, the only message that will be remembered in our country and in the countries of our Allies is America’s announcement that the fight is over.
Are we claiming victory in this fight, or just announcing that the fight is over? Is terrorism still a threat to the country, or can we go back to a life of blissful ignorance and apathy? Or maybe this was just a junior level State Department flunky expressing their own views of the world. You’re right; there are a lot of questions. I am anxiously awaiting some answers on this one.
Over the past year, starting with the killing of bin Laden, there has been an aggressive approach from the Administration, the Military, and the State Department in our approach to fighting terror. It appeared that everyone was starting to work in a coordinated approach in the fight.
Congress has joined in the effort with the passing of legislation that gives the military and law enforcement much greater power in the surveillance, apprehension, and detention of terror suspects. The legislation passed was designed to provide the tools necessary to fight terror for years into the future. The legislation also instilled fears of a power grab in citizens on both sides of the aisle; not something a politician willingly puts their name on unless they believe that fighting terror is a major long term problem for the country.
This could have been a mistaken or unauthorized quote, or maybe a little bit of election year posturing. Whatever the reason for the message, I see it as having done long term damage to our efforts to combat terror both globally, and within our borders. I am hoping for some clarification in the next couple of days that will set my mind at ease.
My friends, don’t let the words of an unnamed diplomat distract you from the evidence that is appearing at an increasing rate. The current war on terror has been fought since Munich in 1972, and will continue to be fought for decades to come.
No simple proclamation will change this fact; this war will be fought until we have either defeated, or succumbed to the ideology behind the terror.
by Jack Woodward 4/24/12