Alexander's Column

Pearl Harbor and Terror

Mark Alexander · Dec. 7, 2001

Sixty years ago today, Imperial Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. As with the attack on our nation September 11th, we were wholly unprepared – a sleeping giant. But the difference in the execution and outcome of these attacks is as notable as our national response to each.

The attack on Pearl Harbor required the entire military resources of Japan. On that fateful “Day of Infamy,” 353 Japanese planes attacked a military target killing 2,390 combatants. It took four years and the full military-industrial capability of the United States to defeat Japan.

The attack on 9-11 required only a hand full of Islamic zealots with some basic flight training, 19 airline tickets and some sharp instruments. On that fateful day, four commercial airliners were hijacked, three of which were used as fueled missiles against symbols of American free enterprise and strength, killing, in less than one hour, thousands of our countrymen – most of them non-combatants. The resulting war on Jihadistan may continue indefinitely, and will require highly specialized intelligence and military operations to protect against hit-and-run terrorism.

As it was in 1941, the most dangerous period for our nation’s ability to sustain continuity of government and commerce is the next 6-12 months, while we surge our intelligence and military capabilities to restore our ability to defend our shores. But there is another looming threat to the success of our campaign against Jihadistan. We are fighting an enemy with no borders, and we have become a nation with a very short memory and even shorter attention span. It will be difficult for President George Bush to overcome this internal threat of a looming lack of resolve. We may have to be reminded – tragically – that the threat posed by Islamic terrorists will defy short-term solutions.

However difficult the coming months and years may be, in the words of fellow Patriot Todd Beamer, one of the first combat fatalities in the war with Jihadistan, we say to all American Patriots: “Let’s Roll!”

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Measured progress continued in prosecution of our war with Jihadistan. In Afghanistan, only two major war fronts remained, and the siege of one, Kandahar in the south, was nearing an end. Marines from Forward Operating Base Rhino assisted Army Special Forces in tightening the noose around Kandahar, the Taliban’s “spiritual center.” Of the remaining Taliban fighters there, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made clear their options: “[I]f they don’t surrender, they’re going to be killed…. If people will not surrender, then they’ve made their choice.”

With those words, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, holed up in what is left of Kandahar, started negotiations to ensure his own survival. But nobody is listening…. Apparently Mullah Mo, who earlier in the week was repeating his mantra that Taliban regulars must fight to the death to receive their just rewards, had a change of heart regarding his own. (We suspect the arrival of SF and Marine units in Mo’s neighborhood played some role in that change.) Hell is not looking so good….

Meanwhile, in mountainous northeastern Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda diehards were hiding among the caves and tunnels near Tora Bora – awaiting their certain demise.

Though Osama is proving hard to locate, he may soon be found on the cover of Time magazine as “Person of the Year,” as the magazine confirmed he is among “a dozen under consideration” for recognition as the one person on Earth who has had the biggest effect on the year’s history. But The Federalist disagrees with the choice of bin Laden and thinks there’s no contest – Man of the Year this year is a composite, “The American Hero.” Despite the recent years of hand-wringing and whining over the loss of heroes and lack of role models, they have always been among us: the patriot-passengers of United Flight 93 who sacrificed their own lives for untold others; the firefighters, police officers, emergency rescuers and other civilians who laid down their lives at WTC to reduce the death total there; Don Rumsfeld going directly to the Pentagon crash scene to assist victims; President Bush returning to the White House before terrorist threats were known to have diminished so that he could address the nation – and leading our nation with the courage and conviction few credited him for possessing; Rudy Giuliani’s leadership in NYC amid unimaginable horror and distress; our warriors in and around Afghanistan; and the families of all the above…. This year was a new dawn for “The American Hero.”

Speaking of heroes, three Green Berets were fatal casualties of “friendly fire” in southern Afghanistan early Wednesday. Another 19 U.S. troops were injured. Five Northern Alliance troops fighting alongside the Americans died, and 18 were wounded. The Defense Department is investigating the error in called coordinates for guided munitions from a B-52. “You know, the motto of the Special Forces is to liberate the oppressed. These men died as heroes and were wounded as heroes, and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families,” said Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, the Pentagon’s deputy director for operations. (As are our own….)

On other fronts with Jihadistan, Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian terror group Hamas took responsibility for a string of vicious bombings in Israel, which murdered 26 innocents. The attacks come in the wake of Osama’s explicit linking of the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. with U.S. support for our ally Israel, as well as to our armed forces still present in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to defend those nations against Saddam Hussein’s resumption of aggressive moves on their territories.

And there is a storm brewing over Iraq again, with rumblings about when – and how – to prosecute the front with Jihadistan there. “Suddenly he’s [bin Laden] flying jumbo jets into buildings,” noted Kidhir Hamza, former head of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program. “Where did he get that expertise? This is Saddam’s work. Iraq is openly a terrorist state.” Hamza explained he had participated in Iraq’s nuclear weapons development, believing the program would prevent war by “balancing” regional powers: “The aim was to keep Iraq independent and have some leverage in the region. We wanted only limited deterrence, but it continued even after Iraq had lost the Gulf War.” Hamza assessed the effectiveness of United Nations weapons inspections harshly, stating they were “useless. You have to get rid of him [Hussein].”

Terming Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow UN weapons inspectors to continue their work in Iraq “an act of aggression” against the U.S. and its allies, Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), together with Rep. Porter Goss (R-Florida) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), introduced a House resolution listing ten offenses Iraq has or may have committed. The list notes Hussein’s 10-year war against Iran, his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and says, in part, “the President and the United Nations should insist on monitoring weapons development in Iraq” in accordance with the Gulf War surrender terms Hussein accepted. There’s that “surrender” thing again!