An editorial in the Boston Globe today says that 'a crucial reason to applaud the demise of Osama bin Laden is that it may enable the United States to move beyond the harmful narrative of a global war on terror'. I thought the Obama administration had long ago tried to move beyond that narrative. So the Boston Globe provides a vindication, in its way, of the theme aired repeatedly, tiresomely, on this blog: that the struggle formerly known as the war on terror has remained what it was, a war on terror, the coyness of the Obama administration about the phrase itself notwithstanding. The Globe's argument now for jettisoning the war on terror in favour of 'aggressive policing' includes what strike me as two weak premises in support of that prescription. The first is that it would be better for America not to be seen 'as the "far enemy" propping up unjust regimes in the Muslim world'. This would indeed be better. But it doesn't necessarily mean America should discontinue its central role in attempting to defeat the worldwide terrorist threat. Second, the editorial says:
The democratic uprisings unfurling across the Arab world demonstrate how thoroughly Al Qaeda has lost the hearts and minds of most young Muslims. They are risking their lives in peaceful protests for representative government, freedom of expression, and economic opportunity. They are the best antidote to bin Laden's madness. The more America is identified with their rebellions, the safer Americans will be.
Agreed, the US should support democratic movements in the Arab world (and elsewhere); and if these have weakened Al-Qaida, all well and good. But America's support for them is just another thing the country should be doing. There's no reason that that shouldn't be complementary to the effort to strike at Al-Qaida and other such outfits in the way it just has.