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I'm all for the War on Terror. When does it start?

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Seems the folks at Firedoglake have stirred up a hornet's nest of freepers by suggesting there is no war on terror, nor should there be. I think they're both right and wrong, kind of.

First, there is no war on terror - anymore. There was a war on terror, for a few months or so in late 2001, and it went quite well, for the short while it lasted. As you'll recall, America got hit and we retaliated, smartly, by going after the folks enabling Al Qaeda, the Taliban. Things went well in Afghanistan (for a while), then things went horribly wrong.

Since that time, whether by intent or neglect, the actual war on terror has been missing in action. We invaded Iraq for all the wrong reasons - Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror. Lots of us knew that before Bush invaded. All of us know it now.

And at home, Bush has been systematically dismantling the very freedoms he keeps telling us that Osama hates and our soldiers are defending. Watering down the Bill of Rights, tearing up the Constitution, and ignoring the rule of law have nothing to do with the war on terror, unless you count Osama's very goals in that war.

Bush has been trying to sell our ports to countries that enabled the attacks on September 11. Containers coming in to our country still go unchecked (oops, there goes a nuke). And how about mail packages that travels on domestic airlines - last time I checked, lots of mail on planes wasn't being checked for bombs either, has that changed? FEMA still remains totally unpreprepared for another national disaster. We're not prepared for smallpox. Airline passengers still aren't screened against all the name on the terrorist watch list. Homeland Security money is doled out as pork. And on and on.

And after all that, Bush still hasn't learned his lesson. He talks tough against Iran, preparing the nation for another war, while Iran has nothing to do with the attacks on September 11 or Osama. Where is Osama bin Laden? Have we taken care of Al Qaeda? Have we taken care of ourselves?

Not a word from Bush.

There was a war on terror. But now, there is no war on terror. Bush's foreign and domestic policy, when he has a coherent one, is geared towards helping his corporate allies profit at the expense of regular Americans - not geared towards protecting the nation against terrorism or fighting any supposed war on terror. Iraq was about oil and avenging Bush's father. Iran is about oil and the neo-conservative fixation with rewriting the world. North Korea (a massive threat to the US, though not in the "terror" sense, rather in the "they can nuke us and they're crazy" sense) is... forgotten. And the depressing rollback of civil liberties and the rule of law at home are about establishing an imperial presidency in order to entrench conservativism in American government for decades.

What happened to the war on terror?

Here is where I differ with Firedoglake. The semantics of the phrase "war on terror" don't bother me as much as it does them, though clearly the phrase is used by Bush in a manner that would make the best propagandists from Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or Orwell's Oceania proud. (We are at war with Iraq, we have always been at war with Iraq (other than that time Rumsfeld, at the behest of Ronald Reagan, shook Saddam's hand), we will (sadly) always be at war with Iraq.) The problem isn't the war on terror, it's what Bush and his coterie of conservatives ideologues have done with the war on terror. They've taken a valid campaign, a valid battle, and twisted it beyond recognition in order to help push every agenda other than the actual war on terror itself.

Just as bad, to the degree you believe Bush has actually been trying to fight the real war on terror, it's still a wash because he's been so incompetent at it. Whether it's the invasion of Iraq (oops, wrong country, and worse, Bush turned Iraq into the very Al Qaeda playground he claimed he was trying to destroy), or the dismantling of civil liberties at home, which flies in the face of everything our country stands for (not to mention, it doesn't appear to have helped the "war" much either), George Bush is simply too incompetent of a man to effectively fight a war on terror.

Imagine during World War II, had America invaded Mexico instead of attacking Germany and Japan. Could we really claim the war on Mexico was a part of the war against the Axis when Mexico wasn't a member of the Axis, nor did it have anything to do with them? Sure, we'd THINK we were fighting alongside the Allies in World War II, but we wouldn't be really.

Just because Bush says we're fighting the war on terror doesn't make it so.

Whether by misdirection or incompetence, the president who ran and hid for 12 hours on September 11, has been running and hiding ever since. A real, competent president would take the war on terror to the actual enemy. Rather than just say it (repeatedly), he'd actually do it. A real president would recognize our freedoms as our strength, as the very thing we're fighting to protect, rather than marking our liberty as a part of the problem.

So, I'm all for the war on terror.

When does it start?

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