Back to basics
By Carol Devine-Molin
In his latest weekly Radio Address to the nation, President Bush examined issues raised by a six month old classified document - the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on terrorism - which had been cherry-picked and leaked to the media by partisan forces for the purpose of inflicting political harm upon the Bush administration and, by extension, the GOP, in this run-up to mid-term elections. In response to these shenanigans, and in efforts to clarify the real intent of the overall document, President Bush declassified its key judgments for all Americans to read. In his radio address, the president stated: "Some in Washington have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home...We do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism. The terrorists are at war against us because they hate everything America stands for, and because they know we stand in the way of their ambitions to take over the Middle East. We are fighting to stop them from taking over Iraq and turning that country into a safe haven that would be even more valuable than the one they lost in Afghanistan."
Moreover, President Bush averred: "Five years after the 9/11 attacks, some people in Washington still do not understand the nature of the enemy. The only way to protect our citizens at home is to go on the offense against the enemy across the world. When terrorists spend their days working to avoid capture, they are less able to plot, plan, and execute new attacks on our people. So we will remain on the offense until the terrorists are defeated and this fight is won."
As President Bush and others have already noted, the war on terror is going to be a lengthy conflict, which might very well span generations. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is an historian who approximates that we'll be battling radical Islam, or as he refers to it, "the irreconcilable wing of Islam", for the next fifty to seventy years. That's almost difficult to fathom, but nonetheless, we're in it for the long haul. With that in mind, it's vital for our leadership to periodically review with the citizenry the fundamentals of this war, specifically delineating: Who are the enemy forces? Why are we fighting? How are we effectively conducting warfare against an unconventional or asymmetric threat such as terrorism? And, especially noteworthy, the Bush administration assiduously brought the battle to enemy turf, for reasons to be reviewed herein. In his most recent radio address, President Bush is clearly in a "Back to Basics" mode that's necessary to keep a populace on a war-footing. He touched on a number of issues that would benefit from further amplification in my humble opinion.
To begin, let's set the stage for the current discussion: Frankly, I'm tired of listening to the political Left obsess about al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden to the exclusion of the other fanatical Islamists out there. The war on terror is not just a battle against the al-Qaida group that hit us on 9/11; this is a global war against Radical Islam (or Islamo-Fascism for the more politically incorrect among you), which seeks to destroy western civilization. The "enemy" is a network comprised of lawless regimes and their proxy terror organizations. Conceptually, it's helpful to think of these terror groups as a number of mafia families that are well capable of working in tandem. Moreover, they've all been "bin ladenized" for want of a better phrase, in sync with the goals of the global Jihad movement or the "Web of Terror". These murderous thugs naturally view America, the hub of modernity and democracy, as their number one target. And make no mistake, their so-called list of grievances is not at the root of their murderous rage against us. In sum, they despise us for who we are and what we believe, not for what we've ostensibly done to them. Blaming America for the vile actions of terrorist fanatics is akin to victimizing the victim.
Nobody explains this "Web of Terror" better than Tom McInerney and Paul Vallely, the authors of Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror. These authors are retired generals who have devoted the bulk of their lives to defending the United States. Regarding the global war on terror, McInerney and Vallely fully appreciate that the fate of western civilization hangs in the balance, and that American leadership is key to the outcome of this fight. They contend, "Radical Islam sees itself locked in a war to the death against the West. To achieve final victory, it has established a Web of Terror. The Web of Terror's number-one enemy - and thus its number-one target - is the United States, because without the sword and shield provided by the US military, the rest of the West will have no choice but to submit."
From the inception of this global war on terror, President Bush has espoused that we must keep-up the pressure on the enemy or, as he is more apt say, "stay on the offense against the enemy" to keep us safe at home. Here's another Bush phrase - "Bring the fight to the enemy" - which tracks along similar lines. What are the significant implications of these statements? First point: It's imperative that we battle the terrorists on their turf, simple because it requires them to expend men, resources and energy on warfare that will keep them tied-down on another continent. In effect, we're thwarting them from waging war on us in the streets of New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, or any other city or town in this nation. Second point: It's rather convenient to deal with many of the enemy in a specific geographic location. In the NIE report cited by both President Bush and his critics, the conflict in Iraq is dubbed a "cause celeb". In other words, Jihadis are responding to the clarion call of the battle in Iraq. So that's a revelation? Iraq has been known as "Jihad Central" – the primary front on terror - for quite some time. And, to some extent, that's a good thing. We're smoking them out - The vermin are being drawn out of the woodwork to fight in Iraq, and our troops are there to kill or apprehend them. .
Given the aforesaid, those who claim that "by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home" simply do not know what they're talking about. Moreover, whenever you fight an enemy, you always encounter an initial escalation in violence. But, ultimately, you intend to wear them down and overcome them. The allure of fighting Jihad will grow stale. Young Islamists won't be thrilled to be associated with a losing cause, and recruits will dissipate. People should remember that this is just the opening round in a long conflict that will last decades. Circumstances need time to play out.
Lastly, some ask why we have to focus on killing or apprehending the enemy. Essentially, it's the only way to ensure our safety from a terror attack. For those who would rather ignore the threat, please ponder this: In a free and open society such as ours, it's impossible to protect against terror assaults one hundred percent of the time. The bottom line is that we cannot definitively control every location, every moment of time, and every person in our society. Here in the US, we've been good (adept) and we've been lucky; but it won't last. The nature of asymmetric warfare (i.e.terrorism) is that the enemy continually probes for the purpose of exploiting the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of any given society. Inevitably, a capable and tenacious enemy will succeed at perpetrating a terror strike. And what if that Jihadi is successful at pulling off an attack utilizing a WMD such as a chemical weapon? Thousands will die. And that's precisely why we need to be pro-active when it comes to terrorism. The stakes are too high to give it short-shrift.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!