Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Problem with the paradigm.

So another terror plot was allegedly uncovered, despite the War on Terror being more or less kinda sorta over. The president offered the vague reassurances that apparently come with the job description:
U.S. President Barack Obama was told about the plot in April, and the attempt "underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," the White House said.
Well, duh. Make sure you lock your doors, and remember to wear your galoshes, kids, because it's raining. This is what people do regarding bad things that may happen to them: remain vigilant. For example, I "remain vigilant" against muggers: This means that I stay alert and wary. I don't declare a "War on Mugging" and run around shooting every shifty-looking character between Broad Ripple Avenue and 49th Street.

Declaring war on a noun is pointless and unproductive. You get folks in the wrong mindset, you can't eradicate it, and you wind up going through ever more pointless and draconian steps to try. A War on Terror is ultimately destined to be as fruitless as would be a war against any other wrong: A War on Murder, say, or a War on Shoplifting, or a War on Telling Your Neighbor That Dress Looks Great On Her When It Really Makes Her Look Like An Avocado In A Flour Sack.

Seriously, if you want to eradicate a noun, don't call the J. Edgar Hoover Building or the Pentagon; call Merriam-Webster.


Panamared said...

Unilateral peace makes as much sense as unilateral disarmament, all you do is signal your willingness to surrender.

Tam said...


I'm not clear on what, if anything, that has to do with the post?

eiaftinfo said...

You forgot our longest running and most expensive - by far - war . . . LBJ's "War on Poverty".

mikee said...

Waging war on Terror made more sense than declaring war on over a dozen countries, a religion, and tribalism dating back millenia, at least to get the authorization for use of military force past Congress at the time.

If the US gave up their ideal of "You broke it, you rebuild it" in war, the task of destroying the governments and infrastructure of half of Africa, all of SW Asia, and a few other places would be simpler and less costly to perform. There would be a bit of criticism over the millions dead over the following years as the countried descended into Somalia-style anarchy, however.

I like to remember that the reason we have a war on a noun is that the alternatives are to be annoyed constantly with a thousand dead here, a thousand dead there across Europe and the US, or using nukes to get the point across that we don't like that happening.

Call it what you will, killing as few as we have in a war against a noun seems the kinder, gentler alternative.

Joe in PNG said...

Never forget, that for a politician, that in the War on Noun, you can get a whole lot of money for your local Department of Noun, look like you're tough on Noun, all while having zero accountability on why the whole problem of Noun isn't going away.


mariner said...

Make sure you lock your doors, and remember to wear your galoshes, kids, because it's raining.

It's not raining, Tam. They're pissing on your leg.

Michael said...

The only reason we call it this is because the proper name "The War on a loosely affiliated group of Islamic Terrorists" is too un-PC. Those bunch of punks started this mess, and we have a right to finish them off, regardless of what we call it. Don't look W's way when you complain about the ambiguity of the name.

The thing that really bugs me though is when I hear this identical rant from a left-wing weenie who doesn't realize that this phrase "War on X", where X is not a country, has a very long history on the American left, from Woodrow Wilson to LBJ. Jonah Goldberg did a real good job deconstructing this "moral equivalent of war" nonsense in his last book. At least the War on Terror is an actual, you know, war.

leBolide said...

Great, now the TSA has something else to add to their list of things to make us take off and/or fondle when passing through the checkpoints.

Greg Hunt said...

" A War on Terror is ultimately destined to be as fruitless as would be a war against any other wrong"

I read that through a bit overquick, and where you wrote "destined", I saw "designed", which read "The War on Terror was designed to be fruitless", and I thought, "Yeah, that pretty much makes sense."

Then I had to rethink what I'd just thought, and re-read what you'd wrote. I'm not happy to realize that I think these "Wars" are designed to fail, with the unstated ultimate purpose of turning our land into a Police State. But that sure as heckfire makes more sense that anything else they're claiming.

Brad K. said...

I always felt that we would have been better off considering acts of mass crimes just another criminal act.

Of course, doing it this way did put an edge on the Army and drone operators. And we demonstrated on Saddam Hussein's (no relation to B. Hussein, that I know of) regime. I mean, no sensible government would really like the US Government to come "help". Like any other armed marauder, it is simpler to whack those in charge than to be fair to those that live there. But we did manage to affect the government in Iraq. And in Afghanistan. And in Syria.

Wait -- didn't B. Hussein (Obama) campaign, back in '08, that he needs a Civilian National Security Force at least as powerful as the army? That sounds like he intends to deal with Americans just like he did with Afghans, and Syrians, and Iraqis, and . .


fast richard said...

Would changing the name from "war on Terror" to something else help? What should the new name be? There does seem to be an ongoing conflict, dating back for decades, at least since the Iranian revolution or even the Munich Olympics.

How should we define that conflict? Does it qualify as a war? What should our response be?

Calling it a war on terror does not seem to be getting us very far anymore. It may be time to reframe our approach, but i'm not sure just how.

LCB said...

Can't argue with Tam's take on the name. But...am I the only person who heard this news and wondered, "Is this the beginning of a whole string of 'we stopped this attack' stories"...all designed to make O look like a successful wartime prez? The details are all so vague...

What's the movie? Wag the Dog?

Ken said...

There is a War on Mugging of a sort, and it seems to involve disarming everyone (for given values of everyone). They'd stick us all in oversized dog crates 24/7 too, if they could figure out how to still extract taxes from us.

Anonymous said...

"I don't declare a "War on Mugging" and run around shooting every shifty-looking character between Broad Ripple Avenue and 49th Street."

Too bad. The final, last-ever "View From The Porch" post written by guest-blogger RobertaX would be awesome!

Mike James

Windy Wilson said...

Actually I think Obambi declared unilateral peace as his way of saying The War on Terror was over and why the emphasis on stuff that didn't happen is suddenly so important.
And as for Wag the Dog, did anyone else notice that bad employment numbers came out, so the next thing you know someone took the muzzle off of Joe Biden and now the focus is on what stupid things he said instead of how bad the economy still is?