Oh, hell. I’m sorry, but I have to offer a brief mention of this other exchange from today’s White House press briefing, in which McClellan gets to tapdance to a slightly different tune. Specifically, whether the rise in global terrorism generally, and the recent London attacks in particular, pose a challenge to Bush’s assertions that his aggressive taking it to the evil-doers is making the world safer from terror:
Q Scott, the President has said that invading Iraq has made the world safer. But the government’s own terrorism statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of international terrorist attacks since the invasion. And the London bombings have demonstrated that the flypaper theory was just a theory. Can you explain the disconnect between the administration’s rhetoric on this issue and the reality on the ground?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, the terrorism incidents that you bring up — last week there was a report released by the National Counterterrorism Center, and they explained how they have developed a new methodology to better track terrorist attacks across the world. So your characterization leaves the wrong impression for people who might be watching this briefing, and I would dispute that pretty strongly.
Now, in terms of Iraq, terrorists have chosen to make Iraq a central front in the war on terrorism. And the President made a decision after September 11th that we were going to take the fight to the enemy; that we were going to wage a comprehensive war on terrorism that included not only taking the fight to the enemy, but also working to spread freedom and democracy, because that’s the way you defeat the ideology that terrorists espouse.
Terrorists have been carrying out attacks for years — for a couple of decades at least. I mean, if you go back and look at the attack on the Marine barracks on Beirut; you can go back and look at the first attack on the World Trade Center; certainly the attacks on September 11th. Terrorists don’t need an excuse, and there certainly is no justification for the taking and murder of innocent human life. They have no regard for human life. This is a battle of — hang on — this is a battle of ideologies. This is a struggle of ideologies. The President recognizes that this is not a limited war on terror, this is not just related to Afghanistan and the Taliban; this is about an ideological struggle, and that’s the kind of battle that we are waging. But there’s a lot history of attacks by terrorists that pre-date anything that occurred in Iraq. So that’s just a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy that we face in this war on terrorism.
Q The Rand Corporation also keeps track of statistics on international terrorism, and their data also shows that 2004 had the highest rate of international attacks in 13 years.
MR. McCLELLAN: The difference between 13 years ago and today is that we are on the offensive. We are taking the fight to the enemy. And the President has made it very clear that we are going to prevail, we are going to defeat the enemy. They are now on the defensive, and we’re going to keep them on the defensive. We’re going to continue to seek out those who seek to do us harm and bring them to justice, and try to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. We are fighting them abroad so that we don’t have to fight them here at home. The best way to win the war on terrorism is to stay on the offensive, and the ultimate path to victory is spreading freedom, because freedom — or free societies are peaceful societies.
If you go back and look at World War II and the Cold War, we defeated ideologies with the power of freedom, and we’re going to defeat the terrorist ideology by spreading the power of freedom, as well. And you may have a different view of the nature of the enemy we face and the war on terrorism, but the President knows that this is a struggle that is going to be a long struggle, it must be a sustained struggle, and we must wage it on multiple fronts. And that’s what we’re doing.
Okay. I’m done quoting McClellan. For now. Heh. But tune in tomorrow!