George Bush, asleep at the…

George Bush, asleep at the wheel

Richard Clarke stole the spotlight at an extraordinary series of hearings into the Sept. 11 attacks, claiming President Bush hadn’t done enough to protect the country from terrorists.

A counterterrorism adviser to the past three presidents, Clarke accused the Bush administration Wednesday of scaling back the campaign against Osama bin Laden before the attacks and undermining the fight against terrorism by invading Iraq.

That’s the key point I think – that the invasion of Iraq has done nothing to stop terrorism but instead increased the possibility of it happening.

The picture emerging of the Bush Administration is that, under all their strutting machoism and belligerence, they are quite remarkably incompetent. Yet these hearings seem intent on various parties proving that By Golly, they are the toughest on terrorism. Meanwhile, it goes on. The Big Hammer approach doesn’t work, the Brits learned, or should have learned at any rate, in Northern Ireland.

To defeat terrorists, you must have a “better story”, a compelling reason for people to join your side, not theirs. Bombing them back to the Stone Age simply drives people to their side. Plus, you need to infiltrate them. And to do that you must 1) take them seriously and not think calling them Evildoers will accomplish anything and 2) learn about them, their culture, and what motivates them, because you can’t really stop them if you don’t understand them, can you?