Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Rumsfeld reflects on 'Sept. 12' world

A good interview here via Elephants in Academia,
The latest plot "is a reminder -- probably even a useful reminder for everybody -- that this is going to be a long struggle, and that there are a large number of people who are determined to try to defeat freedom," he said.

"The organization, the financing, the purposefulness of these people is real, and they're not the kind of people that you negotiate with ... they don't accept halfway measures."

He recalled a speech he gave in 1984 as President Reagan's Middle East envoy after a Hezbollah bombing killed 241 Marines in Beirut: "And you look at what's going on today ... this long war didn't just start on Sept. 11."

Yet he said many people confuse terrorism for "a criminal activity ... we've had a great deal of difficulty getting the country and the world to understand that this is different, this is a long struggle" against "violent extremists ... who are determined and persistent."


powderblue said...

“Yet he said many people confuse terrorism for ‘a criminal activity…’ ”

Maybe some people are confused in this way, but that’s different than the criticisms of the Bush administration I’ve read on this issue. The problem isn’t what terrorism is called, but rather how it’s being addressed. The British effectively thwarted the recent plot to bomb airplanes with old fashioned, on-the-ground police work: cultivating and using intelligence sources, following leads, surveilling suspects, generating cooperation among agencies (and governments).

As George Will pointed out in a recent column criticizing the Bush administration, when John Kerry suggested in the last presidential campaign the need to better use these approaches, the Republicans were quick to dismiss him as weak on terror.

If the terrorists are violent extremists and this is long-term struggle, then that’s all the more reason to use effective means to counter them. To often it seems as if the USA has just been shooting itself in the foot with precision guided missiles, and causing thousands of needless deaths with a “since we’re so good with a hammer, the problem must be a nail” approach.

Bill Baar said...

What are your thoughts on NSA surveillance or patriot act?

The British did effectively thwart and from what I read refused to share much before hand with US intel because we leak so much.

powderblue said...

I haven’t kept up with the surveillance and Patriot Act issues enough to comment about them on a blog as thoughtful as yours, but I’ll do it anyway. I’m not per se against the government monitoring my communications if it thinks it has reason to do so, and I generally trust the judgment and competence of the individuals in our intelligence agencies*, even if they don’t happen to be all that well led or organized at the moment. I’m much more concerned about fundamentalist fanatics who seem to think it’s their God given duty to take innocent lives, and the more the better.

* I served in military intelligence, which I used to joke with my peers was the ultimate oxymoron. I changed my mind about that when I came to better understand “humane slaughter”.