Alexander's Column

John Kerry — Jihadistan's great white hope

Mark Alexander · Apr. 23, 2004

“If I were president, we would not be in Iraq today, we would not be at war.” –John F. Kerry on the campaign trail.

Amid all the 20/20 hindsight and politically motivated finger-pointing from a few shameless partisans on the 9/11 Commission (and you know who you are … Richie, Bobby, Jamie), an exceedingly high-stakes contest is emerging. It’s a contest about how the United States will classify and respond to terrorist threats in the future.

In an effort to undermine President George Bush’s doctrine of preemption – a dramatic doctrinal departure from the Clinton administration’s doctrine of, well, actually the Clinton administration had no coherent doctrine whatsoever – John Kerry’s high-profile minions on the “bipartisan” commission are spinning furiously. Indeed, they’re suggesting that when state-supported Jihadi terrorists do things like slam commercial airliners into skyscrapers killing thousands of our fellow countrymen, these actions constitute “criminal acts” rather than “acts of war.”

Such assertions about the nature of terrorism sound antiquated yet tragically familiar. You’ll recall that treating terrorism as a “criminal act” was the Clinton administration’s policy – an approach that left our nation all but naked on that fateful September morn. In a very real way, then, such assertions serve to remind us of the ultimate Clinton legacy – the legacy of its failure to grasp the wicked and ruthless nature of our Jihadi adversary. These Jihadis know they are serving an agenda that is far more ambitious than “criminal conspiracy.”

It’s long past time that Kerry, et al., put aside petty political agendas, which reach back to Clinton-regime malfeasance in order to make a political distinction, and rise to the defense of our nation and national interests. Treating the Iraqi warfront with Jihadistan as political fodder is not only reckless, it is treasonous.

The United States is at war. We are not – not – merely the victim of a crime. Since 1993, the year of the first Islamist attack on the World Trade Center, our homeland has been a frontline in the war with Jihadistan, that borderless, global alliance of Islamist groups that continues to target the U.S. as a focal point of revenge for Islamic nation states.

As President Bush stated the very night of the 11 September 2001 attack on our nation, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

Addressing the nation later that week, the President outlined the task ahead with clarity and purpose: “On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars – but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war – but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks – but never before on thousands of civilians. … 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. … 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 principal objective of President Bush’s doctrine of preemption is to keep the front lines of this war on our adversary’s turf, rather than our own. The protests of the Left notwithstanding, this is a war that can be resolved neither diplomatically nor defensively. Instead, this is a war that must be resolved by way of resounding military preemption. Sadly, however, the lessons of history – even very recent history – seem lost on Kerry and company.

In the interest of his political campaign (because it’s clearly not in the national interest), Kerry is now implying that President Bush was wrong to have deposed Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athist regime. Kerry, who voted in support of the Iraq war but against the subsequent funding of our troops, seems to be in denial of the possibility that Saddam’s WMD might have one day found their way into the hands of al-Qa'ida or another terrorist group. Instead, he seems certain that there never were any weapons of mass destruction and that the war in Iraq is thus unjustified. Indeed, this head-in-the-sand position has become the centerpiece of the Kerry campaign.

While the U.S. advance on the Iraqi warfront with Jihadistan is certainly just, we can only hope that Kerry is correct in his WMD assessment. Unfortunately, hope alone will not prevent the detonation of a nuclear weapon in an East Coast urban center. However, if candidate Kerry has his way, the 9/11 Commission will serve as his “big stick” to beat back the Bush doctrine of preemption, and restore Clinton’s failed “criminal acts” approach to the prosecution of terrorists.

This week, in fact, Kerry re-warmed Clinton policy, staking it out as his own: “In order to know who they are, where they are, what they’re planning and be able to go get them before they get us, you need the best intelligence, best law-enforcement cooperation in the world. I will use our military when necessary, but it is not primarily a military operation. It’s an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement, public-diplomacy effort, and we’re putting far more money into the war on the battlefield than we are into the war of ideas. We need to get it straight.”

Got that? Kerry is lecturing – or, rather, hectoring – that the politically-motivated mass murder of innocent civilians amounts to a “war of ideas” and is thus more suitable for law enforcement and criminal prosecution than for capturing or killing the terrorists preemptively. It’s an approach that’s perfectly suited to a policymaker prone to dithering and waffling, a show-horse set on talking tough and acting indifferent. (Sound familiar?)

Meanwhile, according to our analysts, the FBI estimates that there are still active Jihadi terrorist cells in U.S. urban centers on the East Coast – cells materially supported by domestic Islamic groups. Care to venture who they’ll be rooting for in this year’s presidential campaign?

Quote of the week…

“John Kerry is professing to be amazed that George Bush is highlighting the terror threat to the U.S. in this year’s election. Actually, I suspect that Kerry is more upset than surprised. Kerry knows for a certainty that if, between now and November, the American people suddenly wake up and recognize the grave threat posed to this country by Islamic fanatics, he will be toast on November 2nd.” –Neal Boortz

On cross-examination…

“The fundamental difference in this election will be between President Bush’s steady leadership in the war on terror and John Kerry’s consistent political opportunism on the war on terror.” –Steve Schmidt, Bush campaign spokesman

Open query…

“Kerry’s views on Iraq may have changed a dozen times since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, but for more than three decades he has been philosophically consistent in his indifference to America’s democratic ideals. Why would anyone vote for a Democrat who isn’t even a democrat?” –James Taranto