Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The War Metaphor and Its Limits

Media Matters notes that yesterday, Lou Dobbs took a long enough respite from complaining about Mexicans to allow Washington Times columnist Diana West to say the following about Barack Obama's approach to The War on Terr'rTM:

Senator Obama's made it very clear that he believes terrorism is simply a matter of cops and robbers. So, I think that what we're looking at is the divide between the so-called September 10th mindset of Senator Obama and the so-called September 11th mindset of John McCain.
Media Matters duly notes that Obama's approach to fighting terrorism is not, in fact, "simply a matter of cops and robbers," but includes the full gamut of military, diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement resources, as he outlined last August and elsewhere.

All well and good, but I think it's worthwhile to add another corrective to Ms. West's nonsense. Taking her September 10th mindset vs. September 11th mindset on its own terms, what would Ms. West have had the US do differently on 9/10/2001? Presumably it would not have involved a "cops and robbers" approach, since that's only for limp-wristed milquetoasts who hate America.

So thinking back to the 9/11 attacks, how would an appropriately manly, America-loving mindset have shown itself? Wikipedia has a timeline leading up to one of the attacks on the World Trade Center:
On September 10, Atta picked up al-Omari from the Milner Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, and the two drove their rented Nissan to a Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where they arrived at 5:43 p.m. and spent the night in room 232 only to catch a US Airways flight back to Boston the following morning. .... The FBI also states that Atta made a credit-card purchase in Manhattan, New York on the 10th ... The two spent their last night pursuing ordinary activities: making two ATM withdrawals, and a 20-minute stop at Wal-Mart. FBI reports specified that "two middle-eastern men" were seen in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut, but despite alluding to Atta and Abdulaziz, does not explicitly say it was them ... On the morning of September 11, they drove to the Portland International Jetport, and took the 6:00 a.m. Colgan Air (U.S. Airways Express) BE-1900C flight to Logan International Airport in Boston.
Would Ms. West have scrambled F-16s and firebombed hotels, Wal-Marts, Pizza Huts, car-rental desks, airports, and ATMs stretching from Portland, Maine to Boston to Manhattan? Would she have dispatched ground troops and unleashed a naval bombardment of all such locales along the northeastern seaboard?

Or is Ms. West -- and everyone else who repeats this incredibly slapdash bit of pro-McSame wisdom -- perhaps a little too committed to the war metaphor?

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