Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said yesterday before the 9/11 commission that the Clinton administration didn’t embrace a stronger military policy against Bin Laden because of a ‘pre-9/11 mindset.’
Peter D. Feaver (in the must-read of the day) comments that Ms. Albright ‘is partly correct; there was a pre-9/11 mindset that shaped Clinton-era responses. The mind-set was “counterterrorism as law-enforcement.”
But he tackles the notion that Bush’s military action after the attack was so obvious that he hardly deserves any credit from deviating from the old cops and terrorists model.
‘In the words of Bush’s most recent and surprising critic, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke: “Any leader whom one can imagine as president on September 11 would have declared a ‘war on terrorism’ and would have ended the Afghan sanctuary by invading.”
Golly, call me anile (we at the IWF are scrupulous about gender language), but I do seem to recall a lot of nasty palaver about the American cowboy and even a peace march or two springing up in the wake of 9/11.
“While most of the recent media attention has focused on early internal debates about Iraqi involvement, in fact the early public debate about 9/11 was over whether Bush was rash in declaring “war” on the terrorists. Most experts and pundits — especially among our allies — still clung to the “counterterrorism as law enforcement” mind-set. And viewed from that frame, it was foolhardy to declare war.
‘For starters, declaring war seemed to elevate the terrorists to co-combatants, rather than leaving them as criminals to be dealt with by police dragnet. The decision to invade Afghanistan was even more controversial. Suddenly armchair experts were quoting Kipling and ruminating on how the Afghans had twice defeated reigning military powers, first the British Empire and then the Soviet Empire.’
And here’s the big question, the one should all be asking, especially now:
‘Would a less stubborn commander in chief [than Bush] have pursued the risky war plan that ultimately toppled the Taliban and put al Qaeda on the run? The record of the ’90s suggests otherwise. A White House that cut and ran after the death of 18 soldiers probably would not have had the stomach for the possible casualties.’
By the way, I had an amusing glimpse into How Liberals Think in an email from an American pal who lives in Oxford, England and listens to the BBC.
My friend, incensed about the recent and controversial assassination of Ahmad Yassin, described the master of terror as
‘this old, nearly blind man in a wheelchair.’
And Hitler was a pet lover.