December 6, 2005
US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has made a surprise visit to Manila on the same day that the Embassy was shut down to a bomb threat.
Iran is inching closer to attaining a nuclear weapons capability. There are doubts whether it can now be averted by diplomacy or whether anyone dares stop it by force.
Yahoo is reporting that a female suicide bomber killed 27 Iraqis at a police academy.
It's common to regard the story of the war on terror as a single narrative. But in reality it consists of multiple streams, which is why, despite the efforts of Representative Murtha, it will be hard to shut down. In Kazakhstan, North Waziristan, Southeast Asia, the banlieus of France, the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East, history is on the move. The only choice America really had on September 11 was to either hold itself aloof from events shaking the world or engage them.
In retrospect, there was tremendous resistance to the idea that the certainties of the 1990s had finally come to an end. Many secretly hoped that the War on Terror would be a temporary excursion into Afghanistan after which we could go back to sequestering carbon, expanding the European Union and spreading the mantle of transnationalism over the whole world. Very few were prepared for the possibility that everthing had changed; and like the generation of 1914 we would never be 'home before the leaves fall'.
That those expectations went unmet had to be someone's fault; and what better scapegoat than President George W. Bush. Had national intelligence been better, the War in Iraq more carefully planned, more troops deployed, Europe consulted more thoroughly, we could have all come back to the world as it was on September 10, 2001. What Congressman Murtha really wanted was not a withdrawal in space, but a withdrawal in time. But even tactical perfection in the military and diplomatic spheres could not have held back events. Following the climate conference in Montreal last week I was struck by the impression that despite its rhetoric Kyoto was not about the future; it was about the past.
At some point the political discourse will change from its obsession with the past -- the 911 commission, the Valerie Plame affair -- and start being about the present. It will be interesting to see which of the major Presidential candidates explicitly does this. Maybe at around the time the Twin Towers are rebuilt.