Conservatives & the War on Terror

In the 20th Century, the Vietnam war stiffened the resolve of conservatives to never again suffer defeat at the hands of a foreign enemy. The War on Terror began with the attack on 9/11, and conservatives remain largely divided about what the battle parameters should be. Most believe the War on Terror must be won at all costs.

The decision to invade Afghanistan to search for Osama bin Laden found favor with many conservatives as did the invasion of Iraq to find al Queda operatives.
Despite liberal opposition, conservatives see victory in Iraq as the key front in the war against international terrorism.

Latest Developments

In November, 2007 -- eight months after President Bush ordered a "surge" of 30,000 troops into Iraq to stem the imminent threat of an all-out civil war -- the ploy finally seemed to be working and rollbacks of American troops began.

However, the most important developments in the global war on terror may have taken place just recently. The western-backed Lebanese government reached a peace accord with its Hezbollah-backed opposition, and Israel and Syria recently announced they have been in peace talks for nearly a year.


The Vietnam war cast a long shadow for conservatives. The desire to maintain a strong national defense was bolstered when the terrorist attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001.

The terror group al Queda took responsibility for flying planes into the World Trade Center, the most revered symbol of American virility and the Pentagon, the international symbol of American power.

The group's leader, Osama bin Laden, issued a strong rebuke of the United States and called for an international jihad against it before going into hiding.

Support for the War on Terror

For many conservative and liberal Americans, finding those responsible and bringing them to justice was the only concern in 2002. It was a uniting factor.

For several weeks following the attacks, Americans of every political stripe rallied around President Bush as he built an international coalition in what would later become the War on Terror. When the decision came to invade Afghanistan to root out the Taliban, which was suspected of harboring bin Laden, Bush received wide support.

Within months the unpopular ruling Taliban suffered defeat and was relieved of power in Kabul, but bin Laden reportedly escaped into the hills of Tora Bora, which border Pakistan.

Opposition to the War

In 2003, with the terror attacks firmly in the rear-view mirror, Bush embarked on an unpopular invasion of Iraq, arguing that Saddam Hussein harbored al Queda fugitives and was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Despite repeated sucesses in the intial phases of the war -- capturing several high-ranking al Queda leaders, killing Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay Hussein and bringing Saddam himself to justice -- the American media and anti-war protesters focused on US setbacks, which included the failure to discover any WMDs in Iraq and the ever-increasing loss of American lives both in the private sector and the military.

Demonstrators also focused on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which involved photographic evidence of US war crimes against Iraqi prisoners.

Where It Stands

There have been many positive developments in the Iraq war, but they often go un-reported by media outlets. One of those stories was the steady decline in the number of monthly US casualties since May 2007. In October 2007, the casualties had reached a new low of 28.

Meanwhile more and more Iraqis continue to sign up to take back control of their country, and the global war on terrorism has earned a mixed bag of success.

In March 2008, for example, the US found and apprehended a top-level al Queda leader, but in May, it was reported a US sniper had used the Quran for target practice and President Bush was forced to apologize.

The 2008 presidential election is largely expected to be a referrendum on the global War on Terror.