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Sunday, October 29, 2006

If We're Going to 'Fight Them Over There,' Shouldn't 'Over There' Refer to Where Terrorists Actually Come From?

One catch phrase is dead. 'Stay the course' died a very public death last week. It's probably for the best, since it always seemed to make people ask, "There's a course?" 'Stay the course' isn't a very good argument when the ship is obviously rudderless.

Unfortunately, catch phrases are pretty much all we have for a strategy. Now we have 'adapt to win,' which would be a little heartening if it weren't coming from an inflexible administration. Adaptation would mean change and these guys aren't about that.

So, we have two original catch phrases left -- there may be more, but it's early and I can't think of any. We have 'cut and run,' which is what we're supposed to think we shouldn't do. I guess leaving Iraq would make us sissies or something. The manly thing to do when you find yourself beating the crap out of the wrong guy is to keep beating the crap out of the wrong guy. Only wusses admit those kind of mistakes.

The other is 'We have to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here.' Compared to the other catch phrases spilling out of the pen of Frank Luntz, this one is positively verbose. It's also completely illogical.

I'm a little lost on why so many people mistake 'we have to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here' for anything approaching sense. Before the Iraq war, we were already fighting them 'over there' -- 'over there' being Afghanistan. There were plenty of foreign fighters in Afghanistan -- am I the only one who remembers this? The idea is that as long as we're warring abroad, terrorists will fight us abroad. If that's true then why wouldn't they all go to Afghanistan if we pulled out of Iraq? The logic of the argument, such as it is, would demand that they do.

But people who should know better wind up repeating the phrase as if it made something approximating logical sense. The Daily News Journal, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, reports:

Area residents approached Wednesday tended to agree with President Bush's statement of dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, but also agreed that the job of securing Iraq's freedom is vital.

"It's better to fight them over there than here," said resident Bill Cunningham, 78.

Candidates are using it as a campaign slogan. Republican Dave Weldon (not to be confused with scandal plagued Curt Weldon) writes in

The events of 9/11 showed us that we have an enemy determined to take away not only our liberties, but our very lives as well. The war on terror is about making sure we fight them over there, and never again over here.

I'm not really sure how terrorists are supposed to manage to take away our liberties, but there ya go. We're busy giving them up all on our own anyway. Nothing in that paragraph makes any damned sense. If we leave Iraq, we'll still be 'fighting them over there'. Afghanistan, the Taliban, 9/11, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, the mujahideen -- hello? Remember all that stuff?

Bush has moved the sentencing of Saddam Hussein back to November 5th, just in time for the elections on the 7th. It's a pretty transparent and desperate campaign stunt. What I hope everyone will remember (and what a lot of people in the media will bring up) is the fact that Hussein will be found guilty of war crimes.

What he won't be found guilty of is harboring terrorists, possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction, or complicity in 9/11. The Bush administration will beat their chests and howl that the sentencing is a triumph in the 'war on terror,' but none of the charges will be related to terrorism. It'll have as much to do with fighting terrorism as the traffic ticket some poor guy in Chicago will get the same day. It won't even make a dent. If you doubt that, then explain why terrorist attacks have increased while Saddam munches Doritos in the crowbar hotel? Hussein's permanently sidelined and al Qaeda couldn't care less.

To tell the truth, I have no idea why there's al Qaeda in Iraq. You've got the Sunnis on one side, the Shia on the other, and coalition forces stuck in the crossfire -- al Qaeda could sit this one out and let nature take its course.

I suppose it's PR. A sort of suicide mission to keep attention on Iraq, while al Qaeda takes northeast Africa. We're letting Somalia slide, because we're too busy with the snipe hunt in Iraq.

I just remembered one more catch phrase -- 'The central front in the war on terror.' This one doesn't make any sense either. We're fighting on two fronts; how can one of them be in the middle?

Iraq is the 'central front' only because Bush says it is. We can still 'fight them over there' if we have to. But 'over there' should be where they actually are.


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