U.S. National Security — Imminent Threats
“National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” –John Adams
Since the dawn of the American Republic, perilous national-security threats were symmetric, emanating from clearly defined nation-states with unambiguous political, economic and geographical interests.
Such symmetric threats are tangible, which is to say that American political leaders have been able to define them sufficiently so that the American people could generally grasp what constituted “the enemy.” World Wars I and II involved symmetric threats and well-defined adversaries. Military campaigns in Korea and Vietnam, on the other hand, lost public support because the purpose of those campaigns (and “the enemy” in the case of Vietnam) was not clearly defined, and thus, American casualties in those conflicts were not tolerated.
Regarding Vietnam, not only did Kennedy and Johnson err grievously in their arguments for escalating our involvement in that “police action,” but they, and Nixon after them, had to contend with a new arbiter of presidential messages – TV news networks, and their political agendas which were, and still are (with one exception), overwhelmingly left of center. The Leftmedia can completely undermine a President’s call to rally public support against a national security adversary, unless that call is clear and concise.
Having learned hard lessons from Korea and Vietnam, George Bush(41) did a far better job of both defining the enemy and defining American objectives when it came time to engage Saddam Hussein’s million-strong army in Desert Storm. The result was overwhelming public support. But defining the enemy and our objectives in the second round with Iraq has been much more difficult for Bush(43), because the enemy and our objective was, and remains much larger than just “containing Saddam.”
There is an imminent national-security threat, which defies all the elements and definable characteristics of symmetric threats. Thus it is difficult to sustain public support in defense against this threat – particularly when some American political leaders and their Leftmedia minions attempt to deny the threat in a brazen effort to undermine public support for the current administration. This political folly is tantamount to treason as there is, today, a clear and present danger of a catastrophic WMD attack against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.
Islamist terrorism is an asymmetric form of warfare, one that emerged in the late 1960s when Islamists inflicted terror first against Israel and Western military targets in the Middle East, and then, given rapid growth in the number of Jihadi adherents over two decades, striking targets in Europe. This threat congealed at the end of the Cold War, and in 1993 our homeland became a front line in this escalating conflict with Islamists.
On 26 February, 1993, Pakistani native Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and his Jihadi brethren (who had entered the United States on Iraqi passports under the control of Iraqi intelligence) bombed the north tower of the World Trade Center in an effort to topple that tower into the south tower and inflict mass civilian casualties. Fortunately, due to Ramzi’s lack of engineering knowledge, his crude truck-bomb didn’t cause the collapse of the building, though it created a six-story crater in the parking garage.
Although Ramzi escaped, several other terrorists were captured and tried. Ramzi himself was finally arrested in 1995, as he was formulating plans to bomb simultaneously a number of U.S. international flights. After 1995, al-Qa'ida Jihadis focused on American targets abroad – the Khobar Towers in 1996, U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 – all without reprisal from the Clinton administration.
In 2001, Ramzi’s uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the number-three thug in the al-Qa'ida organization), and Ramzi’s mentor, Jihadi sheik Osama bin Laden himself, revised Ramzi’s plan. Rather than bombing civilian aircraft, they planned to hijack civilian aircraft simultaneously and use them as missiles. On 11 September of that year, one of al-Qa'ida’s U.S. terrorist cells finished the business that Ramzi started almost a decade earlier, bringing down the twin towers of the World Trade Center and targeting the Pentagon and Capitol Building.
The intent of this Jihadi sleeper cell was not just to bring down the WTC towers, but also the U.S. economy, thus breaking the will of the American people in their effort to hold the line against Jihadi expansionism around the world.
On that Tuesday morning, the American people were awakened to an imminent threat to our homeland, and before noon that day, our collective sense of invincibility had all but vanished.
In reality, Western democracies, particularly those seen as the true beacons of liberty, have been at war with Jihadistan, that borderless nation of Islamic extremists that constitute al-Qa'ida and other Muslim terrorist groups, for at least a decade.
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, very large sects within the Islamic world subscribe to the “post-Mecca” Quran and Hadiths (Mohammed’s teachings). It is this latter group of death-worshipping sects that calls for jihad, or “holy war,” against “all the enemies of Allah.” They thus constitute an enemy without borders – a nation of “holy” warriors we at The Patriot call Jihadistan, in an effort to make this enemy more tangible.
Just who are these “enemies of Allah”? In the wake of the most recent Jihadi attacks, the murder of more than 50 civilians in London, a Muslim “scholar,” Hani Al-Siba'I, leader of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies in London, made clear just who these Islamist Jihadis consider to be their enemies.
“The term ‘civilians’ does not exist in Islamic religious law,” said Hani. “There is no such term as ‘civilians’ in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not.” Dar Al-Harb refers to the House of War – anyone who is outside the House of Islam or the Muslim faith. In other words, if you are not Muslim, you are an infidel, the enemy of Allah. Even if you are Muslim, but advocate political and economic liberty for your brethren, you are a target. (Consider the number of Muslim citizens in Iraq murdered daily by Jihadis.)
How many members of the Muslim faith subscribe to the notion that non-adherents are infidels? Perhaps fewer than five percent of all Muslims take such a hard line. But to put this in perspective, if just one percent of Muslims worldwide inhabit the national brotherhood of Jihadistan, then there are ten times more Jihadis than there are uniformed American combat personnel in our military service branches.
There has been much hand-wringing this past week by those who just can’t understand how four “British” citizens could have carried out the London bombings against their fellow citizens. But the attackers were not British citizens – they were Jihadi warriors first and foremost. Until Western leaders can clearly articulate this distinction, such attacks will continue to be viewed as detached incidents of terrorism – and not part of a uniform warfront with Jihadistan. Thus, rallying public support for that warfront will remain a daunting task.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has yet to articulate this distinction in such a way that the American people, who tend to have a very short collective attention span when it comes to national-security issues, can grasp. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, millions of Americans can recite all the sordid details about a runaway bride, a celebrity child molestation case and a girl missing in Aruba. But these same Americans know almost nothing about an adversary, which is actively seeking to slaughter us by the tens of thousands.
Fortunately, the Bush administration understands our Jihadi adversary well. As President George Bush correctly noted in October of 2001, “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.”
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 fissionable weapon in a U.S. urban center? The answer – nothing short of a determined Doctrine of Preemption as outlined by the President Bush, and a good measure of fortune – the continued grace of God.
(Part Two of this series, “The National Defense,” will be published next week.)