We’re At War

The “conservative” part of this country is busy demonstrating, once again, that the War on Terror is not something they take seriously. It’s just a big partisan game to them.

Every since Richard Reid, we have used the criminal justice system to prosecute terrorists caught on American soil. This has been very uncontroversial. Yet, suddenly, it’s travesty that Obama wants to put the panty bomber on trial.

It’s very difficult to define partisanship better than hating someone for doing what you praised your guy for.

But what’s bother me more is the constant repeating of the “We’re at War!” meme. It’s the unceasing rallying cry of the Right — that Obama doesn’t realize we’re at war. This bullshit has continued in the face of a massive troop buildup in Afghanistan and the continuing of Bush’s Iraq policy.

“We’re at war” is not a policy statement anymore; it’s the political equivalent of a fashion statement. It’s the conservative answer to “No Blood For Oil!”. Here’s Sully, describing Giuliani’s TV appearance earlier today:

But what I really take from Rudy’s remarks is that he believes that merely saying “war on Islamist terrorism” again and again somehow helps us win. What most sentient beings have learned these past several years is that taking this war to a constant and grand rhetorical level empowers Jihadists more than it weakens them. There is a sick syndrome in which “conservatives” get into some dysfunctional relationship with Islamists with each faction elevating the other in global consciousness.

Obama is trying to wind down this drama and focus on actually finding and killing terrorists, removing their recruitments tools (like torture and Gitmo), and defusing their appeal to the Muslim middle. I will further note that Giuliani, in his criticism that Obama has not treated this like a war, has failed to mention the huge build-up of forces in Afghanistan. I remain deeply ambivalent about this strategy, but surely Giuliani would approve. It’s many more troops and many more resources than Bush ever devoted to Afghanistan. And yet all Giuliani believed showed Obama’s concern with terrorism was his use of the word “war” yesterday.

This is not a serious policy. It is not a serious politics.

During the 1980’s, Leftists used the constantly criticize Reagan over his Israel policy. The constant refrain was that he wasn’t “taking the problem seriously”. When you asked them what it meant to take the problem seriously, they wouldn’t have an answer. They didn’t have an alternative. All they knew was that they hated Reagan and that he wasn’t taking the problem seriously.

The Right does have some actual differences with Obama: mostly that he’s had back-channel talks with Iran and stopped torture — both of which are steps toward victory in my book. Both, of course, also demonstrate the spectacular incompetence of the last Administration, which is a prime motivation for the angry response.

But in the end, the vituperative rhetoric is way way out of proportion to these policy changes. In the end, it gets down the partisan bullshit. In the end, it’s a mantra.

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