While there is much to discuss in President Bush’s speech yesterday, I found this part to be especially interesting:
Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We’re taking the words of the enemy seriously.
The comparisons of Osama to Hitler, and, by extension, of Al Qaeda (or perhaps terrorists generally) to nazis are an understandable and increasingly frequent propaganda move. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on this subject, essentially pointing out that the analogy doesn’t make sense.
In addition to that matter, though, I think Bush’s phrase reveals a flaw in our approach to the War on Terror. We want to locate and neutralize Osama. We want to isolate and neutralize any Al Qaeda cell we can. The question is, how shall we do this? I don’t think that letting the enemy dictate the terms of engagement makes any sense. The last few years we have been reacting, predictably, to our enemies’ incitements. This isn’t good strategy.
For example, what if they’re lying? It seems far more intelligent for us to decide on our own what the best course is, and then follow that. Lenin and Hitler said a bunch of crazy stuff, including threats that they carried out, ones they didn’t, and craziness of a more general nature. This oversimplification of “evil men” who “say” all the things they will do truthfully is stupid.
Finally, I’d like to mention this quote, from a Washington Post news piece:
“America is safer, but we are not yet safe,” the document concludes.
The document is, according to the Post, the “White House . . . updated plan for combating terrorism”
What a self-serving generality. “The Republicans are keeping you safe. But be afraid! Vote Republican or the evil men will kill you!”