Ending terrorism requires more than targeting terrorists, their leaders,
or their organizations. It requires recognizing and defeating the body
of ideas known as militant Islam or Islamism. The war cannot be won
until politicians and others focus on this ideology rather than on
terrorism, which is merely its manifestation.
This said, bin Laden’s capture or death could indeed have a
major beneficial impact on the war on terror – by helping to re-elect
President Bush against his presumptive Democratic opponent. Who wins the
forthcoming presidential election will deeply affect the future conduct
of the global war on terror. To adopt Fred Barnes’ formulation in The
Weekly Standard, “George W. Bush is a September 12 person. John
Kerry is a September 10 person.”
Just as Saddam Hussein’s capture in December helped to end Howard
Dean’s candidacy for president of the United States, so bin Laden’s
capture might harm Kerry’s.
That’s because Kerry has lashed out at the way the war on terror is
conducted, blaming Bush for everything from faulty tactics (allowing bin
Laden to escape near capture in Tora Bora), to poor strategy (“only an
ad hoc strategy to keep our enemies at bay”), to an overall failed
policy (“the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign
policy in modern history”). Kerry goes so far as to claim that the
United States is worse off now than on September 11, 2001.
Such over-the-top criticisms render Kerry vulnerable should bin Laden
actually be caught or killed. Which makes catching or killing bin Laden
truly an urgent war imperative.
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