When reading the article published today in The Financial Times, Pentagon sees ‘war on terror’ lasting 20 years, it is difficult not to get reminded of George Orwell’s well-known doublespeak sentence in his novel “1984”: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength“. Gore Vidal does deserve some credit too, having warned in his book “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” about the situation described in the Financial Times’ article.
“The US “war on terror” against al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last “at least 10 to 20 years”, a senior Pentagon official warned on Thursday, an indication of the concern in the Obama administration about the spread of Islamist radicals in the Middle East and north Africa.”
“Speaking at a congressional hearing, the Pentagon officials said threats from “murky” groups linked to al-Qaeda justified the continued application of the 2001 law that underpins the “war on terror” despite criticism from some senators of the way the law had been used.”
“The comments about the terrorist threat contrast with the tone of official discussion last year when senior administration officials talked about how the “core” of al-Qaeda had been “decimated”, even if some of its affiliates remained active in places such as Yemen.”
“Asked how long he believed the “war on terror” would last, Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary for special operations at the defence department, replied: ‘I think it’s at least 10 to 20 years.'”
“Robert Taylor, the Pentagon’s acting general counsel, said the US remained in a state of armed conflict with both al-Qaeda and “associated forces”, a phrase the administration now uses to justify military operations in places very distant from the initial battlefield in Afghanistan.”
“The expansive interpretation of the law used by the Pentagon was sharply criticised by senators who said it contradicted Congress’s power to declare wars. Angus King, an independent from Maine who sits with the Democrats, said the evidence from Pentagon officials was “the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing” he had witnessed at a hearing. “You guys have essentially rewritten the constitution here today,” he said.”
“John McCain, the Republican senator who supports expanding the law to cover new threats, told the Pentagon officials their legal interpretation meant ‘basically you’ve got carte blanche as to what you are doing throughout the world‘.”