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Preventing a Phase II fizzle: Salvaging the War on Terror
By Wayne Dunn
Phase I of the war was prosecuted far better than many expected. Though Iran -- the seat of Islamic fundamentalism, and, according to the State Department in 1996, the "most active state sponsor of terrorism" -- should have been first in our crosshairs, how could a rational person oppose toppling the Taliban and putting Osama bin Laden on the run?
All in all, Bush did well but if recent headlines are any indication of events to come, Phase II will bring the war to a floundering halt.
There's certainly nothing inherently wrong with U.S. forces training and advising Philippine, Georgian and other nations' armies to fight terrorists in their respective backyards. But believing that America can "advise" its way out of danger, can cajole supposedly friendly nations into doing what we have every right and incentive to do ourselves, is a grave error.
Pursuing a few terrorists cowering in a Georgian gorge or a Philippine jungle while virtually ignoring, or even courting, the governments that inspire them, is an engraved invitation for future assaults on America. If office-holding patrons of religiously-inspired terror are exempt from U.S. retaliation simply because they're too savvy to overtly tie themselves to attacks on us, much as a Mafia boss might not personally hire the hit man who does his bidding, then we doom ourselves to perpetually chasing our tail around the globe, depleting our resources for the paltriest of payoffs.
There are thousands of men (and women, Israel has recently learned) like the September 11 suicide bombers. We can't possibly net them all. But, primarily, it's not individual fanatics we must chase -- though I hope they're all caught or killed; it's the governments who encourage and finance such murderers we must obliterate. (And, even more fundamentally, it's the philosophies that breed such governments we must battle.)
How then do we prevent a Phase II fizzle?
First, to hell with training Yemeni soldiers and the like -- we must attack Iran. We must unseat the ayatollah and mullahs who control its government. The budding Iranian freedom movement must be fostered and an American-like constitution, one that divides church and state, instituted. This may require our forces occupy Tehran, just as Gen. Douglas MacArthur's army occupied defeated Japan. U.S. combatants, of course, would likely suffer causalities, but unless we topple the throne of Muslim fundamentalism, U.S. civilians most assuredly will.
Second, we must squash Saddam Hussein. Iraq must be meted the same fate
we deal Iran. And although it's true Hussein is not religiously motivated
-- his hatred of America is more personal than philosophical -- his quest
for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is infamous. He must not
be allowed to survive this war.
However, the most sobering hazard of dismantling Iran and Iraq's governments, followed by a period of occupation, is the extreme risk to our fighting men and women. But if we shirk this task now, will it be any less perilous later, after our enemies acquire deadlier weapons?
The proper role of government is to defend the lives and rights of its citizens, to respond with force against any and all who initiate it. Americans' rights have been violated -- property has been destroyed and lives have been lost. The strategy of the Bush administration then ought not to hinge on, say, advising other nations' militaries, but on completely and unequivocally unleashing our own -- and pointing them in the right direction.
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