Nepali Times
Here And There
Too late


What a horrible, horrible week it has been. The Nepali hostages, brutally murdered by men who claim to be religious. They are not. They are evil. In Israel, another suicide bombing that took innocent lives. Russians killed in the dozens, in plane crashes and bomb explosions by so-called separatists.

In America, President Bush told the truth. He said, in response to a question from a television interviewer, that the war on terror can\'t be won, in the sense that the enemy can never be completely defeated. But, Bush went on, we can make it tough for terrorists and those who support them, take away their sanctuary and funding and so on. This was a brave and sensible comment, long overdue. From just after September 11th, we kept hearing that America was going to "smoke \'em out" and "bring \'em back dead or alive".

The war against the evil men-and occasionally, as in the attacks in Russia over the past seven days, women-who take innocent lives was going to be won, US officials declared time and again. That\'s why the bombs rained from the sky on Afghanistan, 'bombing rubble into rubble', according to Britain\'s Daily Mirror. That\'s why the civil rights of Americans were curbed and thousands of Muslims rounded up on US soil. That\'s why Guantanamo Bay was made a prison for hundreds of farmers, young boys, misguided zealots and occasional evil men. Because the 'war on terror' was going to be won.

And now in a single week, we have evidence that the war is not being won-those tragic deaths in Iraq, Israel, Russia-and a candid admission from the warrior in chief that it can\'t be. Think about it. Your enemy is amorphous, there is no array of soldiers or battle tanks to bomb, very little communications to intercept, no great arsenals of weapons to take out.

Instead, you must make war on an idea and on shadowy forces that obey no rules, respect no Geneva conventions or laws of war. You must outfox your enemy, win hearts and minds in his backyard, send your spies into his secretive, vengeful organisation and make friendships that outflank him. It is a war of the intellect. And President Bush\'s words seem to suggest that he is getting the point. Only for a day though, as the pressure of politics put paid to good sense. His rivals in the Democratic party leapt all over him. His opponents-if they were elected-would win the war. But the president was giving up, or so they said. That was all it took to derail candour and good sense. Bush had made his most intelligent observation about terrorism so far, that you can\'t beat it, but you must fight it creatively, subtly and untiringly. But his latest speeches, including at the Republican convention, were all about winning the war on terror. "In this different kind of war, we may never sit down at a peace table" he said in Iowa. "But make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win."

Well, maybe. Who can say for sure? But not in time for those Nepalis who died horrific deaths in Iraq or the latest Israeli victims of Palestinian suicide bombs, or the Russians, or whomever is the latest to come into the evil cross hairs of terrorism. If we\'re going to win it Mr President, then can we hurry things up?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)