January 8th, 2009
11:03 AM ET

How Bush botched war on terror

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/07/us.troop.plans/art.soldier.afp.gi.jpg caption="A U.S. soldier patrols in a village north of Kabul, Afghanistan, last month."]

Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

President-elect Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisers and speechwriters are wrestling with one of the most important speeches of his presidency, his inaugural address.

One of their toughest conceptual challenges is how to describe and recast what the Bush administration has consistently termed the "war on terror."

The dean of military strategists, Carl von Clausewitz, explains the importance of this decision-making in his treatise "On War": "The first, the supreme, the most decisive act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish...the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into something that is alien to its nature."

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Filed under: Military • Peter Bergen • War on Terror
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. earle,florida

    Ref: Teresa,OH Bravo!

    January 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Teresa, OH

    This article reminded me of something I believe Osama bin Laden said many years back: he said he was going to destroy the US and he was going to BANKRUPT us. Does anyone else remember that?
    The bombing of the T Towers was just the opening bell.

    I dont know how, but Im thinking he did it. He was going to try to get the US to spend as much money as possible. Look at us now.

    Bush's war on terror is really a war on ourselves.

    January 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Jim Dittmer

    I've forgotten who made the comment to the effect that by terming this a war instead of a crime, we have turned terrorists into resistance fighters instead of criminals. We've turned them into freedom fighting heros instead of the cruel, fanatical, organized criminals that they are.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  4. earle,florida

    Please don't tell us now, after the entire world was fully aware of this "Play-Ground Fight", just who screwed-up! It's alittle late. This country has been dying to pick a fight with the middle east ,and to call this, "America @ War" sickens me! What war? What country? What's going on that our leaders still say were a," country @ war"? Have we all become delusional,...! There's a handful of idiots out there that want to destroy the world,but guess what? There in every country thru-out this entire world. The "Blue-Blood" leaders of our great country ,have been inbreeding so long they're officially "Insane/Lunitics,.."PS. Go secure the canadian/mexican borders, which makes more sense to me.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    Yes, its been a disaster. I believe that making war on terrorists does not solve the problem. Terrorists believe that the West has been unfair, that the West is corrupt or worse...... satan!

    We have to come up with new solutions. We need to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. War only serves to recruit more terrorists and to continue the killing of innocent people.

    I am hoping that the brilliant minds which Obama is gathering around him will offer some new solutions, and perhaps begin the long road to peace.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  6. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Terrorism isn't war, terrorism is a technique of war. The fact that Bush labeled this debacle as The Global War On Terror is certainly a subtitle to a greater issue. The religious aspects of this war are vastly more far-reaching than the politics of it. As distorted as the concept of Islam's hatred of Christian and Jewish based culture, the fact that these radicals will sacrifice any life, including their own their children, their parents , brings the escalation of atrocity to a heightened level. I hope PE Obama and his diplomats recognize the true core of this conflict, everything of moral value depends on it.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Harry Ried is absolutely correct. G W Bush is the WORST President in our nations history BAR NONE !

    That being said it's now time to seriously try him for crimes against the American People and for Crimes against Humanity in General. I hope the incoming U.S. Attorney General at least explores the possibility ! Thje pain and suffering this malicious idiot has caused innocent people here and abroad is simply UNFORGIVABLE !

    P.S. and if he is Tried Stupidy and Ignorance should not be allowed to be entered as a plea for not-guilty !

    January 8, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  8. Max

    I wonder where the WORLD would be NOW if BIN LADEN was STILL alive and the SADDAM HUSSEIN was still in POWER.

    The greater WORLD community needs to be CAREFUL what ALLIES we choose and WHERE.

    THERE are a lot of FRAUDS that sounded GOOD to START with ...

    Didn't SOME think HITLER was O.K. way back WHEN????

    January 8, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  9. Cindy

    Another Bush basher on CNN...what's new!?

    I do like Bergen but enough is enough. The fact of the matter is that Bush has kept us safe! Have there been any more attacks here in the states? If he wouldn't have declared war on terrorists there probably would have been.

    And Hamas, Hezbollah and any other extremist group out there that wants to annihilate us are terrorists. I don't care where they are or how powerful they are or not you can't let them get to a point where they can attack you and kill many people. To say that Bush was wrong for calling them terrorists is stupid. They are what they are! I don't care what they run or what part of the government they hold if they hate us and their main objective is to destroy us and our allies then they are terrorists.

    And just so ya know...most terrorists don't call in anywhere before they attack people like the Irish Republican Army....to think that if Bush was more lax then they'd tell of their attacks beforehand is absurd! Did they call in before they hit the World Trade centers and we weren't even thinking of them!? Come on...use common sense!

    You can attack Bush all that you want but he has kept us safe. If you don't believe that then go live elsewhere and see how safe you are!


    January 8, 2009 at 11:29 am |