IT COULD BE that my brain is getting mushy after too many episodes of That Guitar Man, but I resolutely do not believe in the war on terror as orchestrated by the executive branch of the US government. Let me explain--I hope you read to the end.
Thirty years ago, I took a college course from a trained assassin. He knew terror first-hand. He was an instrument of the US government. He taught me and 10 others the theory, the tactics and the strategy of the anti-terrorist elite--all for college credit in an "International Relations" module. In his first hour of instruction, he laid down the facts that about combating terrorism, including the principle that you do not mount a traditional frontal assualt. You train your response to come down the smokestacks as laser bombs, into bedrooms cloaked in black, or through the walls of sitting rooms with a battering ram. This is a dirty business and not very civilised. You do not marshall forces in a line as rank and file. You do not take up arms in a hostile territory as a standing army. Most of his examples were non-American, including Viking invasions of Ireland.
There is no trace of my academic learning around anymore so all that went before is merely a meandering thought. However, what's going on now as elementa of American national policy is downright divisive, ill-informed and a foundation for Christian terrorocracy. In fact, the current course of the US government is down a path that erodes basic liberties--one of the core values of the American Republic.
And in the shadows of Quantico, deep in the Carolina forests of Delta Force Camp 12, encamped on Skyking ridgelines of the Rampart Range sit a new generation of anti-terrorists whose methods of engagement have survived the test of centuries of wars. Because their tactics are not humane, they cannot be elements of the formal policy of the US government. But you have to think that if people really wanted to combat terrorists, they would let the anti-terrorist professionals get it on. If the politicians were really sincere, they would let covert operations run their course.
If that happened, you would never hear the President of the United States talk about a "war on terror". That would be bad for tourism, wouldn't it?
Equally important is the public-facing side of American foreign policy. The Department of State has trained career officers who understand the people, the language, the cultures. In the conduct of foreign policy, things do not move as quickly as an executive would desire. The give-and-take of sovereign nations means everyone will leave the table with less than they expected. That's the way international affairs work. I don't think the American president has the intellect to understand that fact. He understands how football teams move down the field--they run, they pass, they block, they tackle. Understanding that, he wants the same effectiveness in the Red Zone around global flash points as he gets on Monday night football. So he reduces foreign policy to a "War on Terror" and that keeps things simple.
If he really understood the way things need to work, he would never have permitted an Iraqi incursion. He would have listened to his special forces operatives and focused on supporting their Afghanistan campaign. It would have been messy but that's how you fight the war on terror. You give the green light to the black team and they fly with lights out to forward operating areas where their tactics are often as vicious as those of the terrorists. You won't find camera images of their activities but they will find their targets. And when they do, the war on terror comes off the boil with far less bloodshed and much-reduced collateral damage to the civilian infrastructure of the surrounding area.