Apologies to all for the late dive in, but I’d like to pick it up from this deceptively simple and much underestimated fact pointed out by Alistair Millar: “No matter how much the US spends militarily or otherwise, America cannot be everywhere at once”. Thus, one priority for the new president, as far as I can see from the other side, will be to acknowledge the major mistakes of the Bush admin’s approach to the “war on terror”, starting perhaps with this very title. Two major issues will have to be examined without delay: First, how to retrieve some of the moral high-ground that America has lost miserably and UNNECESSARILY, and second, how to devise a smarter strategy through which we can (seriously this time) isolate terrorists from the rest of a given society and contain wannabees.
That will be very difficult to accomplish before the new President says sorry for all the dirt of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the extraordinary rendition program. It won’t be easy before he shows sympathy with Palestinians unnecessarily humiliated at check points. It won’t be easy before he seriously criticizes corrupt Arab regimes. It won’t be easy before he says he can’t understand how an Egyptian family of five can live on $50 a month, not because poverty is a disgrace but because they haven’t been given an equal opportunity in a global economic system dominated by America. It won’t be easy before he categorically demonstrates that the West has no quarrel with Islam but with some Muslims who will be judged NOT on their intentions but on their deeds. Irrespective of their background, those who kill civilians are criminals and should be treated as such. Declaring that we are “at war” with a terrorist gives him far more privilege than he deserves. But war or otherwise, moral high-ground is what needs to be restored before we begin to discuss troops. Even if you did not believe in it, restore moral high-ground and you will begin to stand a chance of charming a predominantly oral culture and turn its men into a neutral position if not into troops for you. Not only is it cheaper, it also happens to be the right thing to do.