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War on Terror report card: Half year point

By Jackson Murphy
web posted March 11, 2002

The war on terror has been going on for six months now. It is going to cost the U.S. $30 billion in 2002. So it is probably time to evaluate the wars winners and losers, failures and success.

The Dean's List:

George W. Bush: A
Bush has developed into the perfect war leader. His post 9/11 presidency has been the right mixture of inspiring leadership and bellicose national cheerleader. He has given not one, but two speeches of his life, prepared the world for a long war, and warned terrorists, those who harbor terrorists, and those nations that seek weapons of mass destruction.

Donald Rumsfeld: A
Rumsfeld is the greatest show in Washington. His press conferences have become more entertaining than any Montel or Springer show. He scolds reporters with what some have called a "Yoda-like Jedi mind trick."

Gen. Pervez MusharrafGen. Pervez Musharraf: B+
The indispensable man in the region has taken his broken nation and in six months moved it closer to the West, while coming to the brink with arch rival India. He is the leader of, basically, a Wild West nation and has used his dictatorial powers to help the war effort. He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard.

USA: A-
America now has forces deployed in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Yemen, Georgia, and The Philippines. They have helped topple the Taliban in Afghanistan, and have disrupted al-Qaida forces. Unfortunately they have failed to find Osama bin Laden.

Britain: A-
Britain was with the US forces the first day of bombing in Afghanistan, and they continue to operate there. Britain has proved once again that it is the number one ally the US has in international affairs.

Air Power: A
It is official; Air Power with help from boots on the ground Special Forces and laser guided targeting is an excellent military tool.

Blogs: A-
The explosion of weblogs as a form of media can be traced to the horrors of 9/11. Enter Stage Right has one, and so do journalists and regular people from around the globe.

Special Forces: A
The footage of US Special Forces in traditional Afghan robes and riding horses says it all. Likewise the actions of CIA agents interrogating the American John Walker before all hell broke loose.

The average students:

Tony Blair: B+
Tony has proven to be an able ally, and has tried to reestablish the role of Britain in this new world. In the early days he acted as a second Secretary of State for the US, and he is warming to the idea that something has to be done with Iraq.

Predator droneUnmanned Drones: B+
Unmanned Predator Drones have been a staple in the American military for years, but since Operation Enduring Freedom began they have been equipped with Hellfire missiles and have been transformed into offensive weapons rather than simply reconnaissance aircraft.

Vladimir Putin: B-
Putin was all about sucking up to the US war effort, at least until the Olympic Games when suddenly Russia seemed to regress to the heights of old Cold War antics. That said he went along with the US pulling out of the ABM, and who could have imagined that US troops would be in former Soviet nations. It seems that when Bush said Axis of evil, Putin thought he said "axel" and that explains the Olympic shenanigans.

Germany: B
Quietly Germany has cracked down on terrorist cells within and has over 2,000 troops and 7 naval ships operating for the first time in fifty years in the region. If their foreign minister keeps talking down the axis of evil rhetoric they could join France at the bottom.

Wanting to spend their summer in school:

Canada: C
Canada was quick to lend its support to the war on terror. Prime Minister Chrétien has been soft on expanding the war on terror to the axis of evil because he still doesn't get it. Sure they had a delightful "We Love NY" rally but they have done nothing with the shambles that is their military. Plus both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense don't seem to have a clue what the Canadian forces abroad are doing.

France: C-
If there is any credence to the notion of a changed world one needs look no further than France. Most believe that France has lived up to its reputation as a fascist appeasing monkey-enough said.

Osama bin LadenOsama bin Laden: C-
Hard to grade the most hated man in the world and although he was mentioned for a possible Time "Man of the Year" honor, he has been a terrible war leader. Now on the run to who knows where, the only thing keeping him from failing is that he is still alive.

Destined to repeat a year:

Saudi Arabia: F
The majority of the hijackers who perpetrated 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia as is al-Qaida leader bin Laden. They have been unhelpful in rounding up terrorists and have financed much of the terrorism of the last decade anyway.

"The Axis": Iraq, Iran, And North Korea: F
President Bush labeled them the Axis of evil and they have been true to their words. They constitute the future arenas for fighting terrorism.

The UN: D+
Three words: no help whatsoever.

Antiwar leftists: F
This is a collective grade to commentators and activists who have at every turn said that this war is not just, that it is a quagmire, and that we will eventually lose and have been repeatedly proved wrong. Their campaign to discredit the U.S. on the detainee matter has been met with a collective, "get bent."

Grading someone or something before the end of a task is always difficult, but there have been some clear winners who have seized the moment. In a day the Bush Doctrine was transformed into one of preemption rather than waiting for terrorists to strike us. This war strikes a different tone: getting them before they get us. Some people and nations have been unable to grapple with this dramatic change and it shows. Others have gone the distance. The good news for the nations slow to understand what is at stake, is that this war is going to last a long time and their will be time to make up the grade.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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