Operation Iraqi Freedom -- Just the facts, please
"America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat." -- James Madison
Last Friday, the Bush administration released its second National Security Strategy, an outline of U.S. national interests and what we will do to secure them. The NSS serves as the primary guidance for the conduct of all U.S. government agencies in regard to those interests.
Topping the list of critical national interests is the protection of our homeland from terrorist attack, and a reiteration of the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emption, making clear that the U.S. "will, if necessary, act pre-emptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense."
Also of note within the 2006 NSS is the following bold assertion: "The advance of freedom and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution to the transnational terrorism of today."
That brings us to the third anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the primary front in the Long War against Islamic terrorists.
OIF, like Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, is much more than a bid to keep conflicts with terrorists on their turf. It is a determined effort to establish a functional democracy in the heart of a region critical to U.S. interests -- a region ruled by secular and theocratic tyrants who have become state sponsors of the Islamic terror alliance, which declared war on the U.S. and our Allies.
The first round fired against the U.S. homeland in this war was not 11 September 2001.
No sooner had we relaxed our national defense posture as Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Bloc adversaries subsided than our homeland was attacked by a second-tier adversary, radical Islamists.
On 26 February 1993, a terrorist cell headed by Jihadi operative Ramzi Ahmed Yousef (who entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport) bombed Tower One of the World Trade Center in an effort to topple it into Tower Two and murder up to 30,000 occupants of those buildings. Fortunately, due to Ramzi's lack of engineering knowledge about where to park the truck bomb, Tower One withstood the blast.
In 1995, after Ramzi's capture, he was being flown to New York for prosecution. As the transport helicopter passed the WTC towers, an FBI agent removed Ramzi's mask so he could see that the towers were still standing. Ramzi commented gravely, "We are not done yet." Indeed, Ramzi's computer, seized in the Philippines before his arrest in Pakistan, detailed a plan to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as flying bombs against U.S. targets -- which his cadre succeeded in doing on 9/11.
For eight long years after the first WTC bombing, the Clinton administration refused to take the domestic terrorist threat seriously enough to make deterrence a priority. Eight months into George Bush's first term, it became resoundingly clear that a small terrorist cell armed with nothing more than box cutters could, in a matter of minutes, kill thousands of Americans and cause in excess of $250 billion in damages to the U.S. economy.
The 9/11 attack demonstrated that not only are there Islamist factions intent on the wholesale slaughter of Americans on U.S. soil, but that those factions won't hesitate to use the most destructive means at hand. In other words, they will certainly detonate nuclear or radiological devices in U.S. urban centers, given the accessibility to such weapons and an operational capability to deploy them.
President Bush's 2002 NSS recognized this threat, and his 2006 NSS reaffirmed that the best method to deter asymmetric nuclear attacks is to pre-empt them through short-term tactical operations combined with long-term strategic operations. The short-term operations consist of military interdictions in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, to kill terrorists and disrupt their operations. The long-term operations consist of both military and civil actions designed to democratize the Middle East's political and economic culture so that it no longer serves as a breeding ground for our terrorist adversaries.
Clearly, then, while the tactical and strategic operations in Iraq come at great cost, they are absolutely necessary. Indeed, they are the best, if not only, method for preventing an asymmetric nuclear attack on our homeland. However, some national-security analysts now consider such an attack "inevitable" because deterrence operations are a decade late.
Despite enormous progress in our tactical and strategic operations to seed democracy in a region that has known only tyranny for its entire history, the Democrats and their Leftmedia have politicized these operations for one stupefyingly inane purpose: To undermine support for the Bush administration, and thus, Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
This week, the Democrat National Committee released its anti-OIF talking points, the now-familiar pack of lies they've been disseminating for three years. In addition, they encouraged their nationwide cadre of peacenik Sheehanites to propagate these lies in letters to local media outlets.
"President Bush has utterly failed in his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief," reads the DNC memo. "He sent our troops to war without ... no [sic] plan for success." You know the routine -- the Demos insist that Bush lied about Iraq's WMD, all while hoping nobody remembers what Demos said about Iraq's WMD. Their implication is that President Bush sent our military men and women into harm's way because he doesn't care about them or their families, and now he wants to spy on American citizens back home.
To suggest that such political folly is dangerous would be to understate the matter. To suggest that it is nothing short of treason is more accurate, and those media outlets who would willfully propagate such partisan rubbish are equally culpable. Idiocy of this sort undermines not only the safety of American military personnel abroad, but also that of our civilians here at home.
Our colleague James Phillips, Research Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at the Heritage Foundation, has summarily dismantled the Democrat leadership's politically-motivated criticism of OIF. His detailed analysis, "The Myths About Iraq" is not only a well-researched treatise, it is required reading for anyone interested in the truth about OIF. (Philips's report preceded the just-declassified evidence from Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte establishing additional links between Iraq and al-Qa'ida prior to 9/11.)
It is not only critical that we know the truth about OIF, but essential that we also know "the enemy." Unlike enemies past, this one is not defined by geographic borders, but by ideology alone. Consequently, the Bush administration, in its effort to avoid casting all Muslims in the al-Qa'ida mold, has not clearly defined the enemy in terms that most Americans can grasp.
Perhaps the best way to encapsulate this enemy is to label it "Jihadistan," a borderless "nation" of Islamic Jihadis (holy warriors), constituting al-Qa'ida and other Islamic terrorist groups around the world. A borderless nation? Indeed. The "Islamic World" of the Quran recognizes no political borders. Though orthodox Muslims (those who subscribe to the teachings of the "pre-Medina" Quran) do not support acts of terrorism or mass murder, some radical sects within Islam subscribe to the "post-Mecca" (revisionist) Quran. It is this latter group of death-worshipping sects that calls for jihad (holy war) against all "the enemies of Allah" (all non-Muslims).
These Jihadis are characterized by the toxic Wahhabism of al-Qa'ida's Osama bin Laden and his heretical ilk -- those who would remake the Muslim world in their own image of twisted hate and deathly obsession. In the words of bin Laden himself: "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us." Al-Qa'ida seeks to disable the U.S. economy using any means at their disposal and thus undermine our political, military and cultural support for liberty around the world. Bin Laden's plan, "American Hiroshima," outlines an attack on the U.S. with multiple nukes. (Here we might suggest that a Doctrine of Indiscriminate and Exponential Retribution would encourage all good Muslims to seek out and destroy the al-Qa'ida in their midst.)
Perhaps fewer than five percent of all Muslims subscribe to the Islamist notion that non-adherents are infidels. To put this in perspective, though, if just one percent of Muslims worldwide have joined the brotherhood of Jihadistan, then there are ten times more Jihadis than uniformed American combat personnel in our combined military service branches.
To be sure, Jihadistan is a formidable enemy, but it is not insuperable. Success in Iraq is our most critical strategic objective if we are to contain and defeat Jihadistan. Once again, as noted by the current NSS, "The advance of freedom and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution to the transnational terrorism of today."
Iraq won't be lost on the ground. Of its 26 million citizens, 80 percent are pro-democracy Shi'a Muslims or Kurds, and only a small fraction of the remaining 20 percent of Sunnis are aiding the insurgency. As we've said before, the President's supplemental National Strategy For Victory In Iraq articulates a winning strategy.
Nevertheless, Iraq can be lost here at home. And if it is lost, it will be at the inducement of our latter-day Eugene McCarthys, Walter Cronkites and Jane Fondas -- Kennedy, Kerry and Clinton -- who continue to hack away at our national will through the court of public opinion. Clearly, the Democrats and their Leftmedia trucklings hold a great deal of sway over American public opinion. They are, in this respect, a most effective public relations machine for al-Qa'ida. During the past week alone, the Leftmedia's "death of a thousand cuts" campaign has featured Iraqi reconstruction malfeasance and incompetence, dire pronouncements of civil war and car bombings galore -- all in support of the Demos' unseemly midterm political strategy.
On the 19 March anniversary of OIF, President Bush highlighted successful operations in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, al-Qa'ida's strongest outpost. Of course, The New York Times and The Washington Post responded with stories refuting the success in Tal Afar. However, the best account we've authenticated has never appeared in either the Times or Post.
Here, then, is an excerpt from a letter written by the mayor of Tal Afar, Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri, to Gen. George Casey, Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, in January: "Our city was overrun by heartless terrorists, Zarqawi and his followers, who unloaded their bloodthirsty and voracious action of evil on this city for several months by indiscriminately killing men, women and children. Tal Afar was a human slaughterhouse. Simple services were not possible, causing the people to suffer, till the day you dispatched your troops, who were our lion-hearted saviors. Your troops came to rescue Tal Afar led by our heroes, whom Tal Afar will never forget. After the major operation, your wonderful soldiers started nursing the wounds of this city by rebuilding the damaged lives and buildings with great compassion and speed. These soldiers have done more than their original mission required of them. ... God bless this brave [3rd Armored Cavalry] Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. ... Let America, their families and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life."
One of our military readers in Iraq, a Marine officer, wrote us in disbelief of the Democrats' efforts to politicize OIF. His comments aptly sum up the whole debate. "I work with Mayor Najim. He gets it. The vast majority of the Iraqi people get it. Almost all of us in uniform over here get it, as do our families back home. If the Democrats don't stop the nonsense and get it now, I can assure you, al-Qa'ida will give it to all of us later."
In March of 2003, the president and a bipartisan congress insisted we needed to invade Iraq in order to thwart Saddam's plans to develop WMD and outsource it to Jihadi surrogates. The nuclear WMD risk was, and remains, a perilous impending threat, though significantly reduced with the removal of Saddam's regime. But seasoned intelligence and national security analysts would argue that our ultimate objective -- to establish an Islamic democracy in the cradle of the Islamic world in order to protect our vital national interests -- is as critical, if not more so today, as it was in 2003.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The greatest affirmation of the critical significance and success of OIF comes in the form of daily e-mail accounts to The Patriot Post from uniformed Patriots on the ground in Iraq. Few of those accounts are reprinted for security reasons, but OIF veterans, and their family and friends, have other outlets to voice their opinions about Iraq. One such outlet, Vets for Freedom, was just launched by former Marine Lieutenant Wade Zirkle, who spent the last year recovering from injuries received after his unit was attacked. (Six of Wade's fellow Marines were killed in that attack.) We also encourage our readers to visit other sites dedicated to the truth about OIF, like The Patriot's "To Support and Defend... So Help Me God". You can also help by supporting Operation Shield of Strength and inviting your family and friends to sign an Open Letter in Support of America's Armed Forces.