Saturday, January 12, 2013

Greenwald: The "war on terror" cannot end

A few weeks ago Jeh Johnson, the General Counsel at the Department of Defense, gave a speech at Oxford where he began the discussion about an end to the "war on al Qaeda."
"Now that efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end? . . . . 'War' must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the 'new normal.' Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives...

"There will come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed."
Apparently this concept was a bit too much for Glenn Greenwald to comprehend.
Last month, outgoing pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson gave a speech at the Oxford Union and said that the War on Terror must, at some point, come to an end...

But despite the happy talk from Johnson, it is not ending soon. By its very terms, it cannot.
The first thing to notice is that while Johnson referred to the "war on al Qaeda," Greenwald talks about the "war on terror." One can only assume that Greenwald prefers to use the framework of the Bush administration, since almost from day one of this administration the conflict has been refocused on al Qaeda.

But even more interesting is that Greenwald seems to be affirming that the actions he's spent so long criticizing (ie, detention, drones, etc) are indeed part of a "war." In that, he is agreeing with Attorney General Eric Holder. That pretty much negates every critique Greenwald has made of these policies given that he's based them all on domestic criminal laws - not the laws of warfare.

From there Greenwald's argument descends into gibberish. He basically says that because the current administration is engaging in these activities, they can't/won't stop...therefore the war is indefinite...therefore its wrong.

One has to wonder what happens to Greenwald's arguments when that "tipping point" that Johnson referred to is actually reached. He never addressed why the General Counsel at the Department of Defense would broach such a topic. Does he think Mr. Johnson just went rogue on the administration? Its much more likely that when that tipping point is reached, all of Greenwald's arguments will be shown to be false. And that's going to be pretty embarrassing for him. Therefore, the war cannot end.


  1. Excellent. Sometimes I think you and I (and many others :)) are the only ones who actually listen to the President's words. He's made it clear that the war in Afghanistan will come to an end and with it, the "war on terror" as defined by the Bush adm. They've also made it clear that the intense drone program will as well, it is actually a part of the "war" and not just the status quo now as Greenwald fantasizes about.
    Because you know, once it's over, GG will lose one of the 3 topics that he writes about. :)

    1. Hearing less from GG about drones and detention will not be the main reason I'll celebrate the end of this war. But it will certainly be part of the reason.

    2. "He's made it clear that the war in Afghanistan will come to an end"

      That's usually what happens when one loses, and the spent occupation force finally gives up on trying to bend the local population to its ways.

  2. The worst thing that could possibly happen to Glenn Greenwald would be for the so-called "war on terror" to end. What would he do with all the outrage from which he now derives his livelihood? How sad that someone who is supposed to be anti-war has such a vested interest in maintaining the war. And how difficult would it be for Glenn Greenwald to have to admit that the Obama administration has from the beginning been trying to shift the country away from a state of perpetual war with vague and never-ending goals to more concrete and limited targets.

    1. It's very difficult for Greenwald to admit when he's wrong. Whenever he's challenged by someone with substantive facts, he pivots, and changes the subject, Joe. No matter what President Obama does, it's always going to be wrong in Greenwald's eyes. Jeh Johnson knows much more about the war on terror than Greenwald, but because his comments didn't align with what Greenwald thinks, it automatically means that Jeh Johnson is wrong, even though he is an expert in this policy area.


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