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Backing Away from the Truth

Bush told the truth about terror, before his spin doctors ruined it.

by Jonathan Wilson
September 3, 2004

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Backing Away from the Truth_Jonathan Wilson-Bush told the truth about terror, before his spin doctors ruined it.
This has been one of the most disappointing weeks of the election season, and it is only Tuesday. The Republican Convention is only incidental to the disappointment.
Our President, when pressed by a journalist, suggested that it is not appropriate to talk about “victory” in the War on Terror. He said that there would not be a day where victory could be declared in terms of terrorism’s final vanquishing. Rather, the aim is to make the world unsafe for terrorists. The aim is to negate terror as an option in the advancement of goals.
This is lucid and rational. Had he been applauded for this statement, rather than spun around by his own advisors, and had John Kerry acknowledged the lucid rationalism of the statement, this would have been one of the greatest weeks in the history of the War on Terror and of this presidential campaign.
This lucid statement by our President demonstrates that the Patriot Act and the War on Terror are established on a false premise. This is the premise of “final victory.” This is the premise that we can declare “Victory over Terror Day” in the same way that we declared “Victory in Europe Day” on May 8, 1945. This false premise has the Congress of the United States approving broad and unconstitutional powers to the executive branch for the detention of suspects without charge or representation, for snooping and eavesdropping on private citizens, for ignoring our ratification of Geneva Conventions, for waging undeclared wars around the globe.
Too much, obviously, is at stake. The people let this happen ONLY on the conviction that these measures are temporary. Somehow, after “Victory over Terror Day,” the President will willingly surrender back the powers granted by Congress. Neither Democrats nor Republicans want that to happen. George Bush’s neo-conservatives want four more years of unrestrained, unbridled and unconstitutional powers. Meanwhile John Kerry is assuming that by becoming President, he will get to enjoy George Bush’s unprecedented powers and expand them, as has been the trend for every President since FDR.
So, spin doctors and Democratic pundits pounced like hyenas on a dying wildebeest. What he MEANT to say, said our President’s neo-conservative appendages, is that victory WOULD be final, there was just no time-certain scenario on when that would happen. And John Kerry, rather than picking up on the lucidity of the statement as a means of evaluating the general posture of the United States, attacked the President for defeatism.
What a sickening shame.
Finally, the President, admittedly in an unguarded moment, said what we all know is true. But we can’t handle the truth. We want to believe that we are selling out our rights and freedoms to the Patriot Act and the War on Terror as a temporary means for achieving a final victory. We want to believe that American resolve and know-how will achieve a world that is safe, a world in which terrorists do not act because they do not exist.
We must remind ourselves of the truth, so that we can honestly evaluate the goals of the next presidential administration, whether it is Bush’s or Kerry’s. The truth is that there is no such thing as a final victory over terror.
Think of it this way: even in the battle between actual nations, there has been no final victory over Communism. Cuba, Vietnam, China, and other nations continue to enforce social controls, some with continuing Stalinist paranoia toward dissent.
The victory in the Cold War was the victory over the Soviet Union. It was not a victory over Communism. As long as the writings of Marx and Mao and a host of others survive, Communism will not be dead.
It is possible to defeat Al Qaeda and Hamas. These are financed terrorist organizations with foot-soldiers. It is possible to arrest or kill their leaders. These are worthwhile goals in every conceivable way.
However, it is not possible to eradicate terrorism. Terrorism is an ideology. Ideas do not die. Ideas live as long as words live. As long s videos of Osama bin Laden survive, as long as families keep the videos of the final message of their “martyr” (murderer) sons, terrorism will continue.
That means that you and I must live with a choice. Can we declare a victory we can live with, such as the arrest and public shaving of a naked Osama bin Laden, and scrap the Patriot Act? Or, do we choose to continue to live in fear, waiting for some nebulous concept like “terror” to be eradicated from the human consciousness? Is that what it means to “Win the War on Terror”? When and how is that supposed to happen?
Don’t accept the spin and the empty promises of “winning” the War on Terror. President Bush told an unguarded truth. You know it. I know it. My prayer is that knowing the truth will set us free.

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