Declare victory, suggests James Fallows, renowned journalist of the Atlantic Monthly this morning on NPR. This report is interesting and highlights a lot of the problems with NPR's "coverage" of the "war on terror." Fallows does mention in passing that papers seized by the US indicate that the attacks of 9/11 were predicated on Osama Bin Laden's belief that the US political system was so bankrupt that many of our cherished ideals would be trashed and the US would launch punitive, disproportionate warfare against mainly Muslim "enemies" and find itself in a quagmire of sorts that would benefit radical, terrorist activism. Sounds to me like Fallows is congratulating the wrong side on "victory."
Besides that valuable bit of information, Fallows swallows (!) the whole the idea that there is a legitimate "war on terror" and that it has been successful! He qualifies it by stating that what has been acheived is a significant weakening of al-Qaeda "central" as a force capable of launching a terrorist attack against the US on the scale of 9/11. Well...
However there are several gross misteps in his analysis. First he posits that "political violence" is the domain of terrorist groups and is something that the "developed world just has learned to live with. This ignores that the developed world is a significant participant in violence that targets civilians--the US / Israeli assault on Lebanon being only the most recent obvious example.
Fallows also has nothing--absolutely nothing--to say in this interview about the violent, militaristic, anti-democratic policies of the US since WWII that have fostered the conditions of terrorism (the pond in which terrorist "fish" swim to use his metaphor).
Fallows and Liane Hansen rehash the canard that Israel (unlike the US) does face terrorist threats to its existence and is therefore excused for its militaristic aggression. This, by the way, helps undercut the power of Jamie Tarabay's moving report from Lebanon.
I don't have a problem with NPR interviewing Fallow's on his Atlantic Monthly story, but they should be much more challenging in the analysis. Who specifically were his "expert sources" and why see Iraq as any kind of aberration? Also what about Afghanistan as a "success" even before this past spring and summer?
Instead NPR goes along with the nonsense that US policy has helped stop terrorism, when any thinking individual would at least wonder if that policy hasn't helped create a far vaster pool of potential terrorists and --especially in Iraq-- provided them with weapons, training, skills, and a cause that someone like Bin Laden could have only dreamed of before 9/11.