George Graham

Lieberman and the Failed Strategy of America’s War on Terror

The latest attempt at blowing up an American airliner leaves this troubling question to be answered:

What are American troops still doing in Afghanistan now that the “terror” epicenter has moved to Yemen?

The answer is probably that they’re stuck there, as they were – are – in Iraq. Put those boots on the ground, blow up those buildings, kill all those civilians, lose all those American lives and what you get is a “commitment.” You can’t just go in and cause havoc and then pack up and go home. It wouldn’t look good.

terrorSurely, anyone with average intelligence must realize by now that “terror” is not a country or a regime, that terrorists move about like shadows in the moonlight, now here, now there… I don’t know how many Al Quaida members operate in Afghanistan or how many operate in Yemen (photos at right), or Somalia, or Iraq, or even Europe, Britain, Canada and the United States. But I do know the numbers change as they slink about the globe, plotting to do as much evil as they can, wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.

Whatever the real reason was for invading Iraq, it had nothing to do with “terror.” But the occupation of Aghanistan was a direct response to the attack on the World Trade Center on Nov. 11, 2001. In retrospect, nothing could have been more absurd.yemen

The talk about the Taliban providing a “safe haven” for terrorists is nonsense. Terrorists find “safe havens” wherever they can, where governments are weak, where the terrain is inaccessible and sparsely inhabited, anywhere they are free to operate their training camps and make their mischief. Think parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Think Somalia. Think Yemen.

They also have “cells” in America. So does that mean America provides “safe haven” for terrorists and American bombers should visit “shock and awe” on American cities?

I know. Ridiculous!

But not much more ridiculous than blackening the Baghdad sky with bombers and blowing the Iraq infrastructure to pieces. Not much more ridiculous than pouring billions of dollars into a tribal civil war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And not much more ridiculous than sending American drones to blow up people in Yemen and pretending it’s the government of Yemen that’s doing it.

There’s an old saying about using a blunderbuss to kill a fly. It doesn’t work. The shotgun pellets will blow up everything around the fly, but the fly will keep right on buzzing. You wouldn’t fight crime by bombing the streets of South Chicago. So why fight terror by blowing up other countries?

Yet that’s just what Joe Lieberman wants America to keep on doing. The Connecticut senator is using the Christmas Day airliner incident to promote ramped up U.S. assaults on Yemen.

“Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war,” he told Fox News. “If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”

joeOf course, “acting preemptively” is an act of war.  But Joe knows that. If there’s one thing Joe likes, it’s war. Not for himself personally, of course. He has never served in the armed forces. But for other people’s sons and daughters, husbands and fathers. He was one of the loudest advocates for the invasion of Iraq. And he and his bosom buddy John McCain (photo at left) break into song when they think about bombing Iran.

Lieberman would be just another of those aging “hawks” who try to compensate for their waning libidos by advocating mass violence if he were not still chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  For reasons that escape me, the Democratic majority has let this creepy little mouse-that-roars keep the chairmanship despite his repeated betrayals.

And you can expect him to use that chairmanship to do everything he can to keep Americans fighting overseas. The rest of us can only pray that more sober voices will prevail, that some of America’s leaders will recognize the futility of blowing up other countries in an attempt to avert acts of terrorism in their homeland.

As John Nichols wrote in The Nation yesterday:

What’s the alternative? Doing what the Bush-Cheney administration failed to do. By working with the international community and employing smart diplomacy and policing strategies, the U.S. might well be able to address concerns about what is happening in Yemen… and Somalia… and Nigeria and a host of other countries.

And, when they aren’t too busy dropping bombs and firing missiles, America’s leaders could try to address the underlying causes of global terrorism – injustices committed by interests identified with the western powers, for example.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for


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