Washington Times — The Swamp — Why We Fight Now Video — Rightpundits — Fox (Victory-Not Necessarily Our Goal In Afghanistan) — UK Guardian — The Long War Journal (US Strikes In Pakistan, By The Numbers)


So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.  VP Dick Cheney (AEI Speech)

Thursday, August 6, 2009: KABUL, Afghanistan — Five American Marines died Thursday, four of them in a single strike by a roadside bomb, making it one of the bloodiest single attacks against American service members in recent weeks.  The four Marines were killed in a vehicle near Herat in the western part of the country. A fifth Marine, wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Farah Province on Wednesday, died from his wounds.

Mr. Brennan, tell the families of these brave Marines the “War on Terror” is over!


White House: ‘War on terrorism’ is over

911exnowall‘Jihadists’ and ‘global war’ no longer acceptable terms

By Jon Ward and Eli Lake –  August 6, 2009

It’s official. The U.S. is no longer engaged in a “war on terrorism.” Neither is it fighting “jihadists” or in a “global war.”

President Obama’s top homeland security and counterterrorism official took all three terms off the table of acceptable words inside the White House during a speech Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“The President does not describe this as a ‘war on terrorism,'” said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a “new way of seeing” the fight against terrorism.

The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is “at war with al Qaeda.”

“We are at war with al Qaeda,” he said. “We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda’s murderous agenda.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in March that the administration was not using the term “war on terror” but no specific directive had come from the White House itself. Mr. Obama himself used the term “war on terror” on Jan. 23, his fourth day as president, but has not used it since.

Mr. Brennan’s speech was aimed at outlining ways in which the Obama administration intends to undermine the “upstream” factors that create an environment in which terrorists are bred.

The president’s adviser talked about increasing aid to foreign governments for building up their militaries and social and democratic institutions, but provided few details about how the White House will do that.

He was specific about ways in which Mr. Obama believes words influence the way America prosecutes the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Brennan said that to say the U.S. is fighting “jihadists” is wrongheaded because it is using “a legitimate term, ‘jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal” which “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.”

“Worse, it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself,” Mr. Brennan said.

As for the “war on terrorism,” Mr. Brennan said the administration is not going to say that “because ‘terrorism’ is but a tactic — a means to an end, which in al Qaedas case is global domination by an Islamic caliphate.”

“You can never fully defeat a tactic like terrorism any more than you can defeat the tactic of war itself,” Mr. Brennan said.

He also said that to call the fight against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups — which he said remains “a dynamic and evolving threat” — should not be called “a global war.”

While Mr. Brennan acknowledged that al Qaeda and its affiliates are active in countries throughout the Middle East and Africa, he also said that “portraying this as a ‘global’ war risks reinforcing the very image that al Qaeda seeks to project of itself — that it is a highly organized, global entity capable of replacing sovereign nations with a global caliphate.”

The president’s adviser said that in discussing counter terror operations, Mr. Obama “has encouraged us to be even more aggressive, even more proactive, and even more innovative” than they have been proposing.

But Mr. Brennan lamented “inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole, and intellectual narrowness” surrounding the national security debate and said Mr. Obama has views that are “nuanced, not simplistic; practical, not ideological.”


‘Global war’ on terror rebuked: Brennan

‘We cannot shoot ourself out of this challenge:’ Obama’s terrorism adviser.

Posted August 6, 2009m by Greg Miller

President Obama’s counter-terrorism chief rebuked the Bush administration repeatedly today in a speech designed to make the case for an expanded approach to fighting Islamic extremism, just weeks before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In his first public appearance as White House counter-terrorism adviser, John O. Brennan said that the Bush administration’s policies had been an affront to American values, undermined the nation’s security and fostered a “global war” mindset that only served to “validate al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.”

“Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism – whether they are with us or against us – the administration is now engaging other countries and people across a broader range of areas,” Brennan said.

The sharp language is likely to extend the war of words between the Obama administration and conservative critics such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has carried out an unusually high-profile campaign accusing the new administration of abandoning methods that had made the country safe.

Brennan’s speech was the latest in a series of addresses by senior Obama administration figures in recent weeks outlining the president’s national security agenda. Brennan emphasized the argument that the United States must move beyond using the CIA and the military to attack al Qaeda and must work to expand economic and educational opportunities across the Muslim world.

“We cannot shoot ourselves out of this challenge,” Brennan said. “If we fail to confront the broader political, economic and social conditions in which extremists thrive, then there will always be another recruit in the pipeline, another attack coming downstream.”

Brennan presented what he described as a multi-tiered approach, including using the U.S. military to train the security forces of allied countries, supporting democratic reforms and directing billions of dollars in aid to impoverished regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But even while seeking to advance the Obama administration’s agenda, Brennan often struck a defensive tone. At one point, he decried “the inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole and intellectual narrowness that has often characterized the debate over the president’s national security policies.”

Brennan had been a casualty of criticism from the left as Obama was assembling his leadership team. Widely considered a leading candidate to run the CIA under Obama, Brennan – who had spent most of his career in the agency – was forced to withdraw in the face of criticism that he was too closely tied to the harsh tactics employed by the Bush administration.

Brennan complained at the time that his critics were misinformed. He denounced the CIA’s use of water-boarding and other measures on Thursday. Such methods, he said, only serve as “a recruitment bonanza for terrorists, increase the determination of our enemies and decrease the willingness of other nations to cooperate with us.”



War on Terror is Over

By Bryan McAffee

I have good news, according to the White House, the War on Terror is over. The U.S. is no longer “officially” engaged in the “war against terror” nor are we fighting “jihadists” or a “global war”. Phew, glad that’s over, did we win? Actually, the administration is banning the use of these three phrases from the official government lexicon (man, sounds almost Orwellian).

The President does not describe this as a ‘war on terrorism,’” said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a “new way of seeing” the fight against terrorism.

The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is “at war with al Qaeda.”

“We are at war with al Qaeda,” he said. “We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda’s murderous agenda.”

Obama and his administration are still living in a 9/10 universe where they think they can treat these people like criminals or they can negotiate with them. The fact is, whatever you call it, we are in a global war against terrorists and jihadists. Specifically against jihadists as they are the one’s who have declared a jihad against us. They want to wipe us and Israel off the face of the earth. Obama says we are “at war with al Qaeda” but not in a war against terror. Well, what exactly is al Qaeda, where are they, who are they? There are tons of affiliated groups that don’t call themselves al Qaeda but they want to accomplish the same things, should we just leave them alone? What if bin Laden changes the name of his terror network to something else, are we no longer at war with al Qaeda and do we just give up our efforts? Why do we care if a bunch of people who hate us, want to see us and our way of life end, are offended by the phraseology we use to describe the biggest fight against evil since Nazism?

Hey Obama, here is some free advice. Why don’t you spend less time labeling us right-wing extremists as dangerous and more time worrying about where and when the next attack against this country is coming. Changing the words you use to non-nonsensical, feel good phrases means nothing to them. You cannot win more support by trying to make nice. Welcome to the real world and the post-9/11 universe, now grow up and face our enemies, you will be held responsible. The war on terror will continue, whatever you call it, just fight it and protect this country…


fn-headerObama: ‘Victory’ Not Necessarily Goal in Afghanistan

The enemy facing U.S. and Afghan forces isn’t so clearly defined defined, Obama explained in a TV interview

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama has put securing Afghanistan near the top of his foreign policy agenda, but “victory” in the war-torn country isn’t necessarily the United States’ goal, he said Thursday in a TV interview.

“I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur,” Obama told ABC News.

The enemy facing U.S. and Afghan forces isn’t so clearly defined, he explained.

“We’re not dealing with nation states at this point. We’re concerned with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Al Qaeda’s allies,” he said. “So when you have a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like Al Qaeda, our goal is to make sure they can’t attack the United States.”

The United States and Afghanistan are struggling to shore up security in the country, amid increasing violence. The Obama administration this year stepped up U.S. military operations in the country as the U.S. military presence begins to wind down in Iraq.

“We are confident that if we are assisting the Afghan people and improving their security situation, stabilizing their government, providing help on economic development … those things will continue to contract the ability of Al Qaeda to operate. And that is absolutely critical,” Obama told ABC News.

Rising casualties in Afghanistan are raising doubts among U.S. allies about the conduct of the war, forcing some governments to defend publicly their commitments and foreshadowing possible long-term trouble for the U.S. effort to bring in more resources to defeat the Taliban.

Pressure from the public and opposition politicians is growing as soldiers’ bodies return home, and a poll released Thursday shows majorities in Britain, Germany and Canada oppose increasing their own troop levels in Afghanistan.

Europeans and Canadians are growing weary of the war — or at least their involvement in combat operations — even as Obama is shifting military resources to Afghanistan away from Iraq.

The United States, which runs the NATO-led force, has about 59,000 troops in Afghanistan — nearly double the number a year ago — and thousands more are on the way. There are about 32,000 other international troops in the country.

The new U.S. emphasis on Afghanistan has raised the level of fighting — and in turn, the number of casualties. July is already the deadliest month of the war for both U.S. and NATO forces with 63 international troops killed, including 35 Americans and 19 Britons. Most have been killed in southern Afghanistan, scene of major operations against Taliban fighters in areas that had long been sanctuaries.

The leaders of the largest contributors to the coalition find themselves having to justify both their reasons for deploying troops and their management of the war effort. Britain, Italy and Australia are among those adding forces ahead of Afghanistan’s Aug. 20 presidential election.

They say a Western pullout at this time would enable a resurgent Taliban to take over the country and give Al Qaeda more space to plan terror attacks against the West. Some emphasize humanitarian aspects of their missions, like development aid and civilian reconstruction.



Timothy Gardon Ash, Wednesday 15 July 2009 21.30 BST

Even in New York, the war on terror is over. And few feel it has left them safer

Terrorism is now one threat among many – including the legacy of conflicts and tactics that were supposed to end it

The first thing I see every time I come to New York is something that is not there. That soaring absence of the twin towers on the skyline of Manhattan remains this city’s most haunting presence. A landmark of air. But the shadow cast by the absent twin towers is no longer the defining feature of world politics in the way that the shadow cast by the Berlin Wall was for nearly 30 years. Most people don’t any more feel that we live in a “war on terror” in the way that we did feel that we lived in a cold war. Not across the world. Not in America. Not even in New York.

At the end of last month, Janet Napolitano, the US secretary for homeland security, confirmed that the Obama administration has junked the term “global war on terror”. So, as a slogan, what was billed as an epochal struggle like the cold war – or “World War IV”, according to the neo-conservative Norman Podhoretz, for whom the cold war was World War III – lasted little more than seven years, from the autumn of 2001 to the autumn of 2008, when Obama won the presidential election.

For most Americans, Iraq is over – though not, of course, for those Iraqis who are still alive and have to go on facing the consequences. “Goodbye, Iraq, and good luck” was the headline on Tom Friedman‘s column in Tuesday’s New York Times. The headline doesn’t do justice to the column, but it perfectly sums up a general American attitude which, if I were Iraqi, would make me incandescent with rage.

PettingACatAs a grieving Britain knows only too well, the war in Afghanistan continues. The original, necessary and justified response to the 11 September 2001 attacks has been deformed and betrayed by the disastrous diversion of resources and attention to an unnecessary, unjustified war in Iraq.

Obama has staked his reputation on success in Afghanistan, but the definition of success has been realistically downscaled. The goal is not a flourishing democracy, just a halfway stable state, which is not a haven or breeding ground for terrorists. Even in the United States, he can no longer depend on public support for this war. In a USA Today/Gallup poll in March, 42 per cent of those asked said that the US made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan. In November 2001, the figure was just 9%. The headline “Goodbye, Afghanistan, and good luck” may be only a few years away.

Americans do not necessarily believe that they are that much safer from terrorist attack, despite all the extraordinary measures that have been taken in the name of making them so. In a series of polls, the Pew Research Center has asked whether Americans feel that terrorists’ ability to strike the US is greater, the same, or less than it was on 9/11. In August 2002, 39% said it was the same, 34% less, and 22% greater. In February this year, 44% said the same, 35% less, and 17% greater. So nearly eight years on, a clear majority still considers that terrorists’ ability to strike the US is the same as, or greater than, it was on 9/11. They may be wrong, but that’s what they say.

So there is a general and surely correct sense that a long-term struggle against diverse terrorists continues. However, a decreasing number of Americans think their own safety will be secured by foreign wars. There’s still a sharp partisan divide on this. In this year’s Pew poll, nearly two out of three Republicans insisted that military operations would have a greater effect in reducing the terrorist threat than diplomatic efforts; with Democrats, it’s the other way round. In total, exactly half of those asked said decreasing the US military presence abroad would reduce the threat from terrorism.

Just as importantly, the terrorist threat has been joined or overtaken by other problems, some of which feel more urgent and others which seem more important. The economic meltdown, first of all. The people I watched hurrying to work past the construction site at Ground Zero early yesterday morning were surely not thinking about buildings collapsing as a result of terrorist attack. For in the meantime that same financial district has seen banks collapsing as a result of what the Oxford economist Paul Collier called the crime of bankslaughter. So those New Yorkers hurrying to work are more likely to be thinking about saving their jobs, or stoking the embers of a fragile market recovery.

Meanwhile, looming in the background are other epochal challenges, such as climate change and the rise of China. If future historians ask, “Who was the winner in the war between America and al-Qaida?” they may yet answer, “China”. To be sure, China was rising anyway. But geopolitically it is also the unintended and unintentional beneficiary of a diversionary struggle in which the United States, under the Bush administration, also harmed itself.


Even leaving aside the economic costs of the global war on terror, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo have damaged the US far more than al-Qaida ever could by any direct assault. But then, this has ever been the terrorist’s dream: to provoke the target state into hurting itself, in a kind of bloody judo. Lest we forget, Dick Cheney is still with us – and most recently stands accused of having instructed the CIA not to report the development of a covert anti-terrorist operation, reportedly including assassination plans, to Congress. Yet Cheney still has the gall to suggest that dropping the term “war on terror” will increase the terrorist threat to the United States.

Sure-footed and subtle, Obama is doing his best to restore America to its better self, in Michigan (where unemployment now exceeds 14%) as in Washington (where healthcare reform and climate change are at last being addressed, albeit with painful compromises in the offing); and in Egypt (where he spoke eloquently to the Muslim world) as in Ghana. But, although Obama is himself a weapon of mass attraction, the national power resources at his disposal are significantly less than they would have been had he assumed office in January 2001, and the challenges he faces, at home and abroad, are in many ways larger.

Down at Ground Zero, the concrete and steel foundations of a new tower are already visible. In five years’ time, there will be a new landmark on the Manhattan skyline, and not merely the haunting presence of an absence. According to the local authorities, the building will officially be called 1 World Trade Center, but I trust that it will continue to be widely known by the originally proposed title, Freedom Tower. Its base will be fortified against terrorist attack. But whether the United States will again appear as a beacon of freedom, whether the heart will lift again at the shimmering prospect of the Manhattan skyline – that will depend on American policies on many different fronts, among which the incremental struggle against terrorism is only one, and probably not the most important.




Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:10 AM

The ‘War on Terror’ is Over! Well, Sorta…

Holly Bailey

We missed this yesterday, but the Washington Post blogs about a Pentagon email that went out Monday asking its staff and speechwriters to officially stop using the phrase “Global War on Terror.” The new name: “Overseas Contingency Operation.” Uhh, come again? Here’s the Post:

“Recently, in a LtGen [John] Bergman, USMC, statement for the 25 March [congressional] hearing, OMB required that the following change be made before going to the Hill,” Dave Riedel, of the Office of Security Review, wrote in an e-mail.

“OMB says: ‘This Administration prefers to avoid using the term “Long War” or “Global War on Terror” [GWOT]. Please use “Overseas Contingency Operation.'”

Riedel asked recipients to “Please pass on to your speech writers and try to catch this change before the statements make it to OMB.”

This isn’t first time Washington has tried to lose the “war” label. Two years ago, George W. Bush and his aides tried to change the “Global War on Terror” to the “Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.” And we all know how that caught on. More recently, we’ve noticed that Barack Obama and his aides have barely used “war on terror” at all, in favor of more broad terms like the “ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism.” But let’s face it: “Overseas Contingency Operation” does not exactly roll off the tongue. Just as “The artist formerly known as Prince” was always still “Prince,” the “war” will probably always be the “war.”


US strikes in Pakistan, by the numbers

By Bill Roggio – August 5, 2009 10:44 AM
Charts on the number of US airstrikes inside Pakistan per yer, the frequency of strikes in 2008 and 2009, the number of deaths in 2008 and 2009, a distribution of strikes by tribal agencies, and the territories targeted. See LWJ report, US Predator strikes in Pakistan: Observations for a breakdown of the data.

US Marines MEDIVAC an Afghan boy


Petty Officer 3rd Class Simon Trujillo runs for cover as a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter prepares to take off during the air evacuation of an Afghan boy in the Nawa District in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Read more. By Bill Roggio

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The Strata Sphere:  Coming Soon – The Battle Over The War On Terrorism

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Dailymail (UK):  In peril in Pyongyang? How jailed female journalists were in greater danger sharing a plane with Bill Clinton

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Updates:  Added new related links.