Alexander's Column

The Bush Doctrine — A Retrospective

Mark Alexander · Sep. 12, 2003

On September 12, 2001, the day after the attack on our countrymen by al-Qa'ida terrorists, we wrote in Federalist No. 01-37: “As the ancient military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu observed in his classic treatise The Art of War, ‘Attack [your opponent] where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. … Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.’ Al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden clearly understands this doctrine. For eight long years (since 1993), our nation has ignored it. The price for such ignorance is now apparent.”

Osama bin Laden and his al-Qa'ida terror network closely adhere to that doctrine today, having aptly demonstrated its success on 9/11 when, in an hour and ten minutes, a cadre of 19 Islamists killed 3,016 Americans and caused $50 billion in property damage and economic loss, which, in turn, extended the economic recession, costing an estimated $500 billion in additional economic loss.

Shortly after the attacks, President Bush called Dick Cheney from Air Force One, and said, “We’re going to find out who did this and kick their @$!” On September 20, in an address to the nation, the President outlined how he would accomplish that goal in what has become known as the “Bush Doctrine” – the most important doctrinal policy shift since the First World War.

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done,” said the President. “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign…. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. … The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”

The primary objective of al-Qa'ida and their Jihadi collaborators was, and remains, to disable the U.S. economy permanently, and thus, disrupt its political and, equally important, cultural influence around the world. To be certain, al-Qa'ida operatives will use any method at their disposal to achieve this objective, including existing plans to detonate a nuclear weapon in an East Coast urban center – an option that would likely have been exercised had Saddam Hussein not been deposed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Indeed, in a just-released al-Jazeera video of Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, Ayman warns, “What you saw until now are only the first skirmishes. The true epic has not begun.”

As President George Bush noted this week, “We have…uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States.” Our intelligence sources indicate there are at least six additional al-Qa'ida cells remaining – as of yet, undiscovered – in the U.S. That is the current reality of the al-Qa'ida threat, and the reason we have taken our war against Jihadistan (that borderless nation of Islamic extremists) to their turf. “The surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans,” said President Bush. “We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.”

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. commander in Iraq, affirmed that strategy, saying, “The only way we will fail in this country is if we decide to walk away in Iraq and fight the next battle in the war on terrorism in America.”

Perhaps the greatest measure of the Bush Doctrine’s success is that al-Qa'ida has not been able to carry out any attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 – as of this morning. However, the Bush Doctrine not withstanding, our nation remains exposed to the Jihadi terrorist threat.

The cost of defending our nation is great (albeit minuscule when compared with the cost of recovering from a catastrophic nuclear attack in a major urban center). President Bush has asked Congress for an additional $87 billion in appropriations for the reconstruction and democratization of Iraq and the conduct of our war with Jihadistan, prompting loud objections from Clinton regime leftovers who advocate retreat and surrender – and redirection of those tax revenues down the social welfare drain. Undoubtedly, al-Qa'ida is rooting for the Left to prevail.

If the costly and painstaking reconstruction of Germany after World War II had been subject to the scrutiny of opportunistic politicians and Leftmedia talkingheads via 24-hour news outlets, we likely wouldn’t have a piece of the Berlin Wall in our office.

For all of the Left’s ranting over the failures of the war on terrorism, here is what they themselves have failed to acknowledge: the liberation of two dictatorships in as many years; the largest restructuring of government since WWII with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security; the dismantling of al-Qa'ida as a centrally organized, cohesive fighting force; the capture of 42 of the 55 most-wanted Saddamite Ba'athists; the severance of diplomatic ties with Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat; the significant efforts aimed at containing North Korean and Iranian nuclear proliferation; the counterinsurgency operations against Islamic terrorists in the Philippines; and early successes in the development of an ICBM shield for the U.S. and its allies. Clearly, these results are nothing to scoff at – even if you are a candidate in the ‘04 Democrat presidential primary.

As yet unresolved are the whereabouts of Saddam’s known nuclear and biological weapon stores. In November of '02 and again in February of '03, The Federalist reported that our intelligence sources believed Saddam’s biological and nuclear WMD caches had been moved to Syria and the Bekaa Valley. There is now additional information from Israel’s Mossad that Saddam’s primitive nukes (possibly with cores for three) were taken through Syria to a protected site in Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley. It is our fervent hope that U.S. Special Ops Task Force 20 and IDF recon teams interdict those weapons before they are delivered to al-Qa'ida terrorist cells in the U.S.

All this having been said, though we rightly chastised George Bush in this column last week for his poor domestic policy leadership, his leadership as Commander-in-Chief has been second-to-none.

And a footnote from yesterday’s memorial services: Listening to the recitation of 2,792 names of victims who died at the World Trade Center two years ago, we were reminded that Lady Liberty was within earshot. Those names reflected family origins from around the world, including many from the Middle East.

Quote of the week…

“Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there – and there they must be defeated. This will take time and require sacrifice. Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“Terror and tragedy have made us more aware of our vulnerabilities and mortality…. We’re living through a time of testing and consequence and pray that our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us.” –Condoleezza Rice

Open query…

“Imagine the date is September 12, 2001. Ask yourself this question: Are you willing to bet that two years will pass and there will not be another terrorist attack on American soil? … There is one reason – and one reason alone – that Americans have been safe for the almost two years since the 9/11 attacks. That reason is the aggressive war that President Bush and the American military have waged against international terror and its Axis of Evil.” –David Horowitz

In other news…

What, then, is the real Clinton legacy? Another excerpt from Federalist No. 01-37 written the day after 9/11: “This momentous event, the worst terrorist attack in world history, caps the tragedy of years of appeasement of rogue nations and terrorists, appeasement that reached a zenith during the eight years of Bill Clinton’s administration. … These attacks on U.S. soil are the natural culmination of foreign-policy negligence…declining military and intelligence capabilities, appeasement of Islamic terrorists, and a long span of tragically misguided blunders in Middle East diplomacy. The real legacy of Bill Clinton was sketched in graphic images yesterday, across the skyline of Manhattan, before the eyes of the entire world. Clinton’s DNC lapdog Terry McAuliffe said, 'There are no partisans today, only patriots.’ But, to be sure, the partisans of yesterday have patriot blood on their hands today.”

As President Bush reiterated this week: “For a generation leading up to September 11th, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond without facing a sustained and serious response. The terrorists became convinced that free nations were decadent and weak, and they grew bolder, believing that history was on their side. … We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness.”

Undoubtedly, he was referring to the first al-Qa'ida attack on the WTC in 1993, the al-Qa'ida attack on Khobar Towers; the al-Qa'ida attacks against U.S. facilities in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam; the al-Qa'ida attack on the U.S.S. Cole; and the al-Qa'ida staging and preparations for the second attack on the WTC – all of which occurred on the Clinton-Gore watch – none of which resulted in a decisive response.

Some on the Left have suggested that President Bush was no more concerned about al-Qa'ida than his predecessor, but the facts do not support such criticism. In a terrible case of irony, a report detailing military options for knocking out al-Qa'ida strongholds in Afghanistan was completed on September 10, 2001, and delivered to the White House the day of the attacks.

We are reminded of this admonition from Ronald Reagan in 1986: “There is no security, no safety, in the appeasement of evil. It must be the core of Western policy that there be no sanctuary for terror. … Self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty….”