At first, I was startled that Bush was giving what seemed to be an honest assessment: we cannot win the war on terrorism. Even if we construe that to mean what it really means–a geopolitical “warm” war between secular western technocracies and reactionary Islamic jihadists–it could not be won militarily absent the greatest genocide in recorded history.
Bush’s mistake was that he framed this “war on terror” as something that could occupy his entire eight-year term, thinking it would be a political capital ATM, when instead its very vagueness has rendered it a road with no mile markers, except for the capture of Osama bin Laden. If he had simply said, “We will destroy al-qaeda” he could have made history as fighting a not-hot, yet not-cold “warm” war against non-state terrorist groups that could have defined 21st century American triumphalism.
Instead, Bush followed a Victorian-era riff of imperialism. And why not? This isn’t really about defeating terrorism. When was the last time we concerned ourselves with Preuvian terrorists, or even the goings on in Central America, much less Africa?
No, even if this isn’t directly about oil, it’s only about terrorism near oil.
But instead, Bush engaged in the mother of all flip flops (“MOAFF-2004″). He declared today, that we will win the war on terror. Even the John Kerry of the imagination of late-night comics never made anything to compare with the MOAFF.
But, snickering a haw-haw I told you so, and he does it too isn’t going to do any good in a double-standard media world. (Where the outing of a New Jersey governor dominates several news cycles, and the gay-sex-chat of a homophoic bornagain congressman makes no headlines.)
There are two places we can be in, say, 2030. The democratic nations of the world, having rejected the use of fossil fuels, are mainly engaged in suppressing environmental security threats–such as the illegal importation of oil by developping nations–and other non-military destabilizing forces like poverty, water-scarcity, and ethnic strife. Or … we can be living in a time when the twentieth century is looked back upon as a Gold Age that frittered away in a Gilded one, where two different non-state actors, corporations and terrorists, war against each other.