Sweep aside the bromides of welcoming in a new decade which it is hoped, will bring us bigger, better, and brighter things.
The coming recession belies seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
George Bush's war against terror continues, and at an accelerating pace and in a larger global context. Before yesterday, Afghanistan; yesterday Iraq; today Afghanistan and Pakistan; and tomorrow Yemen and points north, west, and south and east of Suez. We won't visit the small brush fires of war and ethnic and racial and religious strife, which are burning yea these many long years now.
US president Obama [BHO] suggests that we should drop the grandiose description of war on terror for something a more manageable label. Call it what you will, we are living through an on going, low level war, with an elusive enemy who wears the djellaba of Islamic fundamentalism.
The long lived Orientalist Bernard Lewis, who is not welcome in some ideological quarters, wrote an interesting study on the 'Hashishim', a group of assassins, who smoked or chewed the hemp weed, for narcotic courage to kill for political or religious reasons, during the dying Abbasid caliphate and the Ottoman empire. These 'assassins', a radical Islamic sect, have very much in common with today's Al Qaeda and Taliban. Lewis' 'Assassins' is worth reading, if its available in English; he well tells a tale of caution of the centuries it took to search and destroy the fanatics surfing on a drug induced high, to achieve political goals. It took centuries then.
Will it take that long for the 'war on terror' to achieve its end?
Probably not. But the moral of the tale is the same. Ripping out root and ranch the 'tree' that nourishes these fanatics who for paradise now, will self destruct whilst they kill the enemies of theirs. Or wage a guerrilla war against troops who are less skilled in non conventional warfare.
Sadly the tried and true path lies in 'exterminating the beast', which is sugar coated with social improvement of the down and out of traditional third world countries.
Thus, it is a sad truth, an old truth of an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It however is more. It has to convince a population to abandon protecting terrorists, through persuasion or terror. It is never clean; it is never clear cut. It is not strictly efficient, but the oceans of blood spilt, and the toll of death among the 'believers' becomes so great that they either abandon the fight or remain a fanatical kernel who against the tides of time, persist in following a god that hnotas failed.l
Some may raise a fist in anger, saying that today's Al Qaeda or Taliban, has no need for a drug induced reason to die for his ideal. Maybe so. On the other hand, the suicide bombers say on the Afghan Pakistan border, young men hardly out of adolescence, are feed a savvy dose of opium, for
the courage to blow themselves and others up.
Opiate fueled or not, the terror which induces a seemingly face and timeless war, continues into 2010 and beyond.
It is a long war, for it is taking the US, the west, and other nation states a good length of time, to remember old lessons of war, or adapt to fighting and defeating the Islamic fundamentalists of every stripe. Yet the war itself is sapping the strength of the countries engaged in the war of terror. The resulting exhaustion is worth it in the longer run.