Michael Goodwin: Not Enough Urgency In Fighting War On Terror
(The Wichita Eagle) If you’re looking for a true sign of how far we’ve come since Sept. 11, skip the new video from Osama bin Laden and focus on the police bust of terror plotters in Germany last week. The basic facts of the case — the nature of the plot, who was behind it and the fact that the good guys won — tells you what you need to know about how we’re doing.
My scorecard sees some good signs, but not nearly enough for us to win. And remember — there can be no ties in this war.
If that seems too pessimistic, consider that the issue is no longer bin Laden. It is bin Ladenism, a dagger of nihilistic violence aimed at the heart of civilization. The monster himself remains an important symbol, but the evil movement he spawned has taken on a life of its own. Even without him, World War III would continue.
This time the cancer popped up in Germany, where two of the three initial arrests in the plan to attack transit systems and a U.S. military base involved German natives who converted to Islam. Similar homegrown cells are increasingly responsible for attacks and plots. Some, like in Madrid and London, were successful. Others have been thwarted.
Our military in Afghanistan and Iraq is fighting heroically and with increasing, though shaky, success. Our intelligence and law enforcement have gotten smarter in thinking globally and locally, yet still don’t always communicate. Their counterparts in most of Europe and parts of Asia are now more fully engaged, as the German arrests and recent ones in Denmark and Great Britain prove.
Yet it’s all still too slow and too hesitant. From President Bush on down, we lack a sense of urgency.
The enemy is changing faster than we are.
We endlessly debate and contest something so fundamental as the USA Patriot Act. The liberal media call warrantless wiretapping “domestic spying,” giving an important tool a bad name. Iraq has been mismanaged from the start. Mistakes, stupidity, political opportunism and legitimate divisions are crippling us.
The enemy acts, we react. Sooner or later, we will be too late. And if that is when it uses a weapon of mass destruction, our losses will be unfathomable.
Michael Goodwin is a columnist for the New York Daily News.
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