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An End to War(s)

By Dan Froomkin
12:09 PM ET, 01/29/2009

Roger Cohen writes in his New York Times opinion column: "In his first White House televised interview, with the Al Arabiya news network based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, President Obama buried the lead: The war on terror is over.

"Yes, the with-us-or-against-us global struggle — the so-called Long War — in which a freedom-loving West confronts the undifferentiated forces of darkness comprising everything from Al Qaeda to elements of the Palestinian national struggle under the banner of 'Islamofascism' has been terminated.

"What's left is what matters: defeating terrorist organizations. That's not a war. It's a strategic challenge.

"The new president's abandonment of post-9/11 Bush doctrine is a critical breakthrough. It resolves nothing but opens the way for a rapprochement with a Muslim world long cast into the 'against-us' camp. Nothing good in Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan or Iran could happen with that Manichean chasm."

Los Angeles Times opinion columnist Rosa Brooks raises Cohen three wars: "Barack Obama ended four wars during his first week as president. With just a few words and strokes of his pen, the president ended the war on terror, the war on Islam, the war on science and the war on women....

"Don't make the mistake of thinking that these assorted 'wars' were only metaphors, incapable of producing real harm. The 'war on terror' was practically a gift to Osama bin Laden: Our detention and interrogation policies probably fueled far more terrorism than they prevented. Ditto for the Bush administration's undeclared war against Islam.

"The Bush administration's replacement of science with ideology was equally devastating: How many lives will be lost or blighted as we all pay the price for a decade of denial about the human causes of global warming? And some estimate that as many as 500,000 women worldwide have died since 2001 as a result of botched abortions, many of which might have been prevented if the Mexico City policy hadn't pushed abortions and abortion counseling underground in many countries.

"Obama's job is just beginning. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be far harder to end.

"Still, not bad for a week's work."

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