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A war, yes, but what kind of war is it?

Reader comment on item: 9/10 vs. 9/12 on [Election Day] 11/2

Submitted by T.S. (United States), Oct 27, 2004 at 12:07

I agree with the view that the "War on Terrorism" must be seen as an actual war becasue the terrorist side certianly means to commit acts of war against this country and against Western Civilization in general. However, this war is not a conventional war like WWII and cannot simply be fought with guns, tanks, jets and helicopters, though such weapons will and must be used as appropriate.

When I think of the way the Bush administration has approached this war, I often think of the old saw that goes something like "To a man with a hammer in his hand, eveything looks like a nail." In a war such as this where there is no clearly delineated front or enemy territory, no clearly delineated enemy state or war machine, we must rely on intelligence to delineate such things for us. We must be about the business of acquiring good information on a regular basis from people who have better contacts with the terrorists than we do. To achieve this, such people must be pursuaded that our efforts are going to benefit them, not just us; and that requires much more skill management of the perception of the War on Terror than this administration seems able to achieve.

Better diplomacy is a must. Even if we will ultimately keep our own counsel as to what is best to protect the USA, as we most certianly should, we must at least do better at making other nations feel that their views have been considered because we need as much cooperation as possible. Even where the most important task is a military strike on terrorist forces in Falluja, we must be seen to be doing good things for the public of Iraq. I know that we have been doing such things, but I certainly haven't heard much about it. Where are the ribbon cutting ceremonies for bridges built and schools opened? Doing the job right includes being perceived as doing the job right for the same reasons that people wear nice clothes to work. Perceptions matter a lot, especially when someone is considering whether to put their own well-being at risk by ratting out a terrorist to the US Army.

Although I am usually in agreement with Daniel Pipes, I believe that the Bush Administration has done a very poor job on this front, and I think Kerry can do a better job.
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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