In the world of George Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, three world powers – Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia – were in a continual state of conflict:
At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge, which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore, Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.
Just as Oceania did in the book, the U.S. has fought prolonged conflicts with unclear objectives.
Now, the U.S. draws another parallel from Orwell's classic: a sudden, unexplained shift in the status of the conflict and our enemy. Last week, a State Department member had this to say to The National Journal:
"The War on Terror is over. Now that we have killed most of al Qaeda, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaeda see an opportunity for legitimate Islamism."
It seems that our politicians have decided that the war is no longer politically expedient and that some of our enemies (enemies by their own declaration) can legitimately pursue their objectives.
The State Department official must feel our memories are sufficiently “under control.” It unfortunately appears as if they are partially correct, at least with a large enough portion of the population to make the case stick.
But how is the War on Terror over? We didn't officially declare the war and we can't decide when the actual struggle will end. So how do we, by a simple declaration, make it go away? We tried this once before in 1973 with Vietnam. That war did eventually halt – two years later. The communists won.
Our military has significantly weakened al Qaeda, but wars aren't won on simple majorities. And declaring war solely on al Qaeda makes just as much sense as declaring war on Japan's 1st Air Fleet after the attack on Pearl Harbor, then saying it was over when we sank most of that fleet's carriers during the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. We had a lot of war left at that point. And we still do – whether our president wants to fight it or not.
Wars don't just end in the real world; they have winners and losers. How is our government defining victory, defeat, and a number of other important principal concepts? What exactly do they mean by “legitimate Islamism”? Shouldn't our supposed watchdogs in the media be asking these questions? Where is our mass media in all this and to whom is their allegiance given? Questions with questionable answers loom everywhere in this public arena debate.
Oceania's government eliminated critical thinking – even going to the extent of rewriting the language to exert total control over the population. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has gradually attempted to shift our understanding of our enemy to fit his political agenda – from sanitizing government lexicon and counterterrorism training programs of anything critical of Islam to diverting attention from obvious jihad-inspired domestic terrorist attacks. Our government must think that (to paraphrase Mark Steyn) Allahu Akbar is Arabic for nothing to see here.
Whoever controls the language controls the debate. In Oceania, undesirable thoughts became “thought crime,” Undesirable individuals became “nonpersons.” In reality, we have hate crimes and Islamophobia. The 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference is attempting to make anything unpalatable to Islam a global crime. Surely this must be one of the legitimate Islamist groups the Obama official was referring to.
Exactly where does our government draw the line between a legitimate Islamist and an Islamist targeted by a Predator missile? The Muslim Brotherhood – likely one of the so-called legitimate Islamist movements – was banned in Egypt, a nation of 90 percent Muslims. Their own people wouldn't engage them, why should we?
The means the Muslim Brotherhood employs to accomplish an agenda may vary from that of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Taliban, but the end result is the same. It's as if the State Department bargained with the Islamists, coming to an agreement that they can subjugate the U.S. – provided they do it in a more politically correct fashion.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, perpetual war served the state's interests. In an increasingly Orwellian United States, appeasement serves our state's interests. So much so that our leaders must rewrite reality in order to fit the narrative they have created. Our enemies have not compromised. They have not conceded any ground. They are still on the offensive. Al Qaeda may have been weakened, but the jihadist ideology that spawned that terror group – and many others – has not been weakened.
It seems that today, the enemy is only an enemy until it is no longer advantageous to political re-election campaigns to be an enemy. Declaring a non-declared war “over” after killing “most” of one particular branch of our enemy and then carving out a portion of the enemy as “legitimate” only furthers President Obama's political agenda. We deserve better.
(Commentary by Chris Carter/May 1, 2012)