U.S. National Security — The Long War or the Short Surrender
“[I]t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.” –Benjamin Franklin
In the 1990’s, 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 Clinton administration antics, and eight months of the newly-installed Bush administration’s effort to reorder national priorities, most Americans were unaware that another 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 Khobar Towers, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole were also investigated as criminal acts. The same would have been true after 9/11, except that President George Bush had the resolve to call this attack what it was – an “act of war” – terrorism carried out by an asymmetric enemy calling itself “al-Qa'ida” (The Base), which was part of an international unified Islamic terrorist network supported, in part, by nation states like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
This was a new kind of war, but it was war nonetheless.
Unlike symmetric threats emanating from clearly defined nation states like Russia and China – nation states with unambiguous political, economic and geographical interests – this asymmetric enemy defies nation-state status, thus presenting new and daunting national-security challenges for the executive branch and U.S. military planners.
Perhaps the most difficult of these challenges is the task of keeping Americans focused on why this asymmetric threat must be engaged (short of periodic catastrophic wake-up calls). Unfortunately, in deference to sensitivity and diversity, the Bush administration has yet to use the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” when attempting to define or, dare we say, “profile” this enemy. But the Bush administration, and the administrations of our Allies, depend on public support to prosecute the Long War ahead with Islamists.
Targeting al-Qa'ida and its Saudi protagonist Osama bin Laden may have initially precluded diminishing public support for the so-called “War on Terror,” but protests against operations in Iraq and elsewhere are taxing morale both at home and on the warfront. Only two things can curtail this retreat. Either the Bush administration can do a better job of defining this enemy and its lethality, or the enemy can hit us again – and as noted in parts I and II of this series, this enemy has the potential to hit much harder than it did on 9/11.
The latter is assured if the former fails.
President Bush must rightly define this enemy as Islamist zealots of Jihadistan, a borderless nation of Islamic extremists constituted by al-Qa'ida and other Muslim terrorist groups, calling for jihad, or “holy war,” against “all the enemies of Allah.” (If you’re reading this, you are likely a non adherent – and an enemy of Allah.) These Jihadis seek to disable the U.S. economy using any means at their disposal, and thus, undermine our political, military and cultural influence around the world. Ultimately, they want to contain or kill those who do not subscribe to their Islamofascist cult of hate.
The President must also convince our countrymen of the certainty that against Jihadistan, there is no neat Cold War doctrine like Mutually Assured Destruction to stay offensive measures. In this war, the only doctrine that can keep the enemy at bay is that of preemption – and it must be maintained as long as there are Islamists capable of doing the West 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. But short of clear public comprehension of what constitutes “the enemy,” which is a prerequisite to sustained public support, this essential war will be short-circuited, and Jihadis will, once again, move the warfront to our homeland.
There are plenty of domestic enemies who would undermine public support for the war against Jihadistan for purely political reasons. After all, there are midterm elections in 2006 and a presidential election in 2008. Rep. Nancy Pelosi claims, “The president’s frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments. He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of September 11, knowing that there is no connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq.”
Sen. Harry Reid (who voted for Operation Iraqi Freedom) says, “The president’s numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq. … ‘Staying the course,’ as the president advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek.”
John Kerry alleges that President Bush has fabricated a “third rationale” for the war: “The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy. And now…it’s to combat the hotbed of terrorism.”
The President, in the national interest, must take the offensive against these opportunistic detractors in order to restore public support and confidence in the Long War. For we can be certain that this war will last beyond his presidency. Just how long might it last? 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 suggested here, 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. After all, it took 70 years to topple the Evil Empire.
“Our generational commitment to the advancement of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq,” says President Bush. As we approach the fourth observance of 9/11, we can be sure that Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, Kennedy and their Leftist cadre will run a masterful campaign of disinformation. Such a campaign will surely test the resolve of the American people, and the Bush administration would be well advised to begin vigorously cultivating public support by forthrightly defining this mortal enemy.
The Long War may yet end on a day when the West and its beacon of liberty, these United States, surrender. Of course, the consequences of surrender will be much worse than the consequences of the war itself, but a free nation must be free to do as its collective will chooses – even it that means choosing to lose.
For the duration, pray that our capability to defend the U.S. on more than one theater warfronts while prosecuting the long war against Jihadistan is not tested.
Quote of the week…
“September 11 for me was a wake up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again.” –British Prime Minister Tony Blair