War on Terror report
card: Half year point
By Jackson Murphy
posted March 11, 2002
The war on terror has been going on for six months now. It is going to
cost the U.S. $30 billion in 2002. So it is probably time to evaluate
the wars winners and losers, failures and success.
The Dean's List:
George W. Bush: A
Bush has developed into the perfect war leader. His post 9/11 presidency
has been the right mixture of inspiring leadership and bellicose national
cheerleader. He has given not one, but two speeches of his life, prepared
the world for a long war, and warned terrorists, those who harbor terrorists,
and those nations that seek weapons of mass destruction.
Donald Rumsfeld: A
Rumsfeld is the greatest show in Washington. His press conferences have
become more entertaining than any Montel or Springer show. He scolds reporters
with what some have called a "Yoda-like Jedi mind trick."
Pervez Musharraf: B+
The indispensable man in the region has taken his broken nation and in
six months moved it closer to the West, while coming to the brink with
arch rival India. He is the leader of, basically, a Wild West nation and
has used his dictatorial powers to help the war effort. He may be a bastard,
but he's our bastard.
America now has forces deployed in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan,
Yemen, Georgia, and The Philippines. They have helped topple the Taliban
in Afghanistan, and have disrupted al-Qaida forces. Unfortunately they
have failed to find Osama bin Laden.
Britain was with the US forces the first day of bombing in Afghanistan,
and they continue to operate there. Britain has proved once again that
it is the number one ally the US has in international affairs.
Air Power: A
It is official; Air Power with help from boots on the ground Special Forces
and laser guided targeting is an excellent military tool.
The explosion of weblogs as a form of media can be traced to the horrors
of 9/11. Enter Stage Right has one, and so do journalists and regular
people from around the globe.
Special Forces: A
The footage of US Special Forces in traditional Afghan robes and riding
horses says it all. Likewise the actions of CIA agents interrogating the
American John Walker before all hell broke loose.
The average students:
Tony Blair: B+
Tony has proven to be an able ally, and has tried to reestablish the role
of Britain in this new world. In the early days he acted as a second Secretary
of State for the US, and he is warming to the idea that something has
to be done with Iraq.
Unmanned Predator Drones have been a staple in the American military for
years, but since Operation Enduring Freedom began they have been equipped
with Hellfire missiles and have been transformed into offensive weapons
rather than simply reconnaissance aircraft.
Vladimir Putin: B-
Putin was all about sucking up to the US war effort, at least until the
Olympic Games when suddenly Russia seemed to regress to the heights of
old Cold War antics. That said he went along with the US pulling out of
the ABM, and who could have imagined that US troops would be in former
Soviet nations. It seems that when Bush said Axis of evil, Putin thought
he said "axel" and that explains the Olympic shenanigans.
Quietly Germany has cracked down on terrorist cells within and has over
2,000 troops and 7 naval ships operating for the first time in fifty years
in the region. If their foreign minister keeps talking down the axis of
evil rhetoric they could join France at the bottom.
Wanting to spend their summer in school:
Canada was quick to lend its support to the war on terror. Prime Minister
Chrétien has been soft on expanding the war on terror to the axis
of evil because he still doesn't get it. Sure they had a delightful "We
Love NY" rally but they have done nothing with the shambles that
is their military. Plus both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense
don't seem to have a clue what the Canadian forces abroad are doing.
If there is any credence to the notion of a changed world one needs look
no further than France. Most believe that France has lived up to its reputation
as a fascist appeasing monkey-enough said.
bin Laden: C-
Hard to grade the most hated man in the world and although he was mentioned
for a possible Time "Man of the Year" honor, he has been a terrible
war leader. Now on the run to who knows where, the only thing keeping
him from failing is that he is still alive.
Destined to repeat a year:
Saudi Arabia: F
The majority of the hijackers who perpetrated 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia
as is al-Qaida leader bin Laden. They have been unhelpful in rounding
up terrorists and have financed much of the terrorism of the last decade
"The Axis": Iraq, Iran, And North Korea: F
President Bush labeled them the Axis of evil and they have been true to
their words. They constitute the future arenas for fighting terrorism.
The UN: D+
Three words: no help whatsoever.
Antiwar leftists: F
This is a collective grade to commentators and activists who have at every
turn said that this war is not just, that it is a quagmire, and that we
will eventually lose and have been repeatedly proved wrong. Their campaign
to discredit the U.S. on the detainee matter has been met with a collective,
Grading someone or something before the end of a task is always difficult,
but there have been some clear winners who have seized the moment. In
a day the Bush Doctrine was transformed into one of preemption rather
than waiting for terrorists to strike us. This war strikes a different
tone: getting them before they get us. Some people and nations have been
unable to grapple with this dramatic change and it shows. Others have
gone the distance. The good news for the nations slow to understand what
is at stake, is that this war is going to last a long time and their will
be time to make up the grade.
Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the
editor of "Dispatches"
a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him
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