Alexander's Column

National Security Primer 3: The Long War

Mark Alexander · Jan. 8, 2006

The Long War against Jihadistan

“Our war on terror begins with al-Qa'ida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. … This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion.” –George W. Bush

In the 1990s, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was a new sense of security in the West, particularly in the U.S. But the Free World had unwittingly traded the Cold War for the Long War – “unwittingly” because after eight years of the Clinton administration’s national security malfeasance, and eight months of the newly installed Bush administration’s effort to reorder national priorities, most Americans were unaware that a deadly enemy had coalesced in our midst.

That false sense of security terminated abruptly on 11 September 2001, when one of this enemy’s brigades attacked the World Trade Center – for the second time. The first WTC attack on 26 February 1993 was treated by the Clinton administration as a “criminal act.” Subsequent attacks by this enemy against a U.S Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia’s Khobar Towers, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole were also investigated as criminal acts.

On Clinton’s watch, terrorist cells under the control of Osama bin Laden had settled into several U.S. urban locations. For two years, they planned and prepared for a catastrophic attack on our nation. On 9/11 these al-Qa'ida cells emerged and attacked the U.S., murdering almost three thousand of our citizens and causing more than a hundred billion dollars in damages and economic losses. U.S. stocks, in fact, lost $1.2 trillion in value that week.

Fortunately, President George Bush had the resolve to call this attack what it was – an “act of war” – and respond accordingly. He implemented the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emption, which proposed that the only way to defend against such an enemy is to respond offensively. It is a doctrine that must be maintained as long as there are Islamists who would do us harm.

President Bush told the nation, “This is a long war, and we have a comprehensive strategy to win it. We’re taking the fight to the terrorists abroad, so we don’t have to face them here at home. We’re denying our enemies sanctuary, by making it clear that America will not tolerate regimes that harbor or support terrorists.”

Indeed, it will be a Long War, and his Doctrine of Pre-emption is the best directive for strategy.

How long? That depends, in part, on how one defines its origin.

If the war began in 627 AD, five years after Islam’s founding, when Mohammed committed his first genocide against a Jewish tribe, then the war is an epic and ongoing struggle between Islam and other religions, especially against Jews and Christians. Which is to say that its conclusion is not foreseeable. If the war is an extension of the Middle-Age invasions of the West by rapacious Islam, whether the start date is the victory of Charles Martel at Tours (732 AD), the back and forth of Crusades (1095-1669) or defeats like Constantinople (1453 AD), the siege of Vienna (1529 AD), the fleet at Lepanto (1571 AD), or the gates of Vienna (1683 AD), then the war is a clash of civilizations which likely has centuries of conflict yet ahead.

But if the war against Jihadistan began, as The Patriot would suggest, on 11 September 2001, taking into account that Jihadi attacks on Western targets date back to the 1960s, then it will likely continue for decades.

“Our generational commitment to the advancement of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq,” says President Bush. Indeed, it is a “generational commitment” – a long war.

Because Jihadistan lacks any central governing authority (other than the Islamist protagonist of the day – currently Osama bin Laden) or any central funding mechanism (other than the Saudi government and Islamist support groups in the West), its methods are unconventional. That is to say, it will use the most devastating weapon in its arsenal to succeed in its objective of destroying “the infidels.”

Indeed, given that objective, and past performance, what’s to prevent surrogate terrorists from detonating a nuclear weapon in a U.S. urban center? Perhaps only a determined and dedicated application of the Doctrine of Pre-emption as outlined by President Bush. Clearly, there can be no defeating this enemy without the national will to prosecute a long-term engagement. In addition, our nation will require a good measure of fortune - and the continued grace of God.

National Security Primers