Carl von Clausewitz, 19th century military historian, famously said that "War is politics carried on by other means." ("Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln") It has become clear to me in these times, that terrorism, too, is politics continued by other means. Consider recent statements from the left wing extremist pictured here. (Need to ask Dean if that is on the list of 100 things?) In a rambling 25 minute video, he takes the American people to task for re-electing George Bush, and goes on to trash the Democrats for not forcing an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. ABC news has a summary here. He also rails at the concept of democracy in general, which I find heartening. Politically, being against free elections is a long term losing position throughout the world, and if we were smart, we could exploit UBL's foolishness. He mentions our failure to sign the Kyoto accords, as if he really cares. He also rants against capitalism, and then perversely, recommends conversion to Islam to provide relief against high taxes. "There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent." (quoted from the linked ABC article.) Who knew he was also a "supply-sider?" But praising Noam Chomsky, fellow left wing extremist, in the same tape is a real puzzler. But wait, it isn't. He has no coherent theory to offer the world, only his own supposed holiness, so he uses whatever facts appear convenient at the time.
In a better world, our leaders would see that the political dimension of the war on terror is as important as the military one. The western democracies have a great story to tell. Democracy, human rights, prosperity... What's not to like? But we do such a bad job of selling that story and we undermine our own cause by not keeping the pressure on our supposed allies in the Mideast to democratize. The same resolve that won the Cold War will win this war as well. Even though it had its military dimension, what broke the game wide open in the Cold War was the embarrassment of the Soviet leadership over their constant need for repression. Glasnost followed, and the rest, as they say is history. Clearly, we have to embarrass our current enemies and it is so easy. Teaching children to kill, blowing up fellow Muslims on pilgrimages, killing children... the other side has so much to be ashamed of. We need to do a better job of publicizing that.