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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Considering victory conditions in the wider war and the importance of ideology 

With all the talk over measuring "victory" and the absence thereof in Iraq, one is almost forced to think about the definition of victory in the wider war against Islamic jihad. It is always important to define victory in war, but it is especially so in a shadow war. This is because our leaders demand exceptions from usual constraints during war (such as, for example, the requirement for wiretap warrants or the availability of the writ of habeas corpus). We need to grant them certain of these exceptions, but we also cannot allow the war to become an excuse for the unwarranted concentration of power. We have to have some sense of when the war will end.

In a hot war between nation-states, the victory condition is usually obvious: the surrender of the other side. In a shadow war, though, victory is hard to define and therefore there is the risk that wartime exceptionalism will outlive its true usefulness.

It is not necessarily obvious how a shadow war will end, even during the waging of it. In 1950, the West had no idea that the Cold War would end 25 years later with the Helsinki accords, 39 years later with the fall of the Berlin Wall, or 44 years later with the fall of the Soviet Union. Similarly, we cannot know today how the war against Islamic jihadism will end, or how clear it will be when the end comes that it has come. Nevertheless, the very ambiguity of this war makes it all the more important to debate the question of victory conditions. There will be no surrender ceremony on a battleship or signing of a cease fire agreement, so we need to know what to look for instead.

These questions have become especially acute in light of the present debate over balancing security and privacy interests. In that political argument, opposition to the Patriot Act and outrage over the NSA's dropping of eaves seems inversely correlated, however loosely, with whether one actually believes we are in a global war for our survival. Even those of us who accept the existence of the war, though, want to know what victory will look like, both so that we do not extend wartime exceptionalism beyond its useful life and so that we do not quit the fight too soon.

With that in mind, this post will discuss victory conditions in the wider war against Islamist jihad, and ways to measure our progress in the meantime.

Background

About a month ago I published an updated version of Steven Den Beste’s famous “strategic overview” of the war on Islamic jihad and the position of Operation Iraqi Freedom within that struggle. At the time I said that the purpose of the exercise was “to organize my thinking about the war,” and that I would in all likelihood use it as the basis for other work. Much of the analysis in this post assumes that you have read that annotated strategic overview, or at least some of the source materials linked therein. You do not need to read that document in order to understand this post, but I would appreciate it if you would before you flog me in the comments. Nothing against comment flogging, but it should be informed.

One cannot articulate victory conditions for a war without defining the war’s strategy. While I have done that at length in the annotated strategic overview and in numerous disparate posts, here I propose a series of minimalist statements that may be made about the war against al Qaeda and Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the end, the victory conditions almost write themselves.

A note on Iraq

The most complicated and contentious part of the discussion involves Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom had many objectives, some of which were largely unrelated to the war on Islamic jihad (the elimination of Saddam Hussein and his sons as a strategic threat to the region, the ending of the sanctions regime, the securing of Iraqi Kurdistan, and the redemption of the United Nations Security Council), and some of which were very relevant. We have manifestly achieved the former, and in that sense have already "won." But the Iraq war is also a battle in the wider war, which we have not yet won. Most public discussion of victory conditions in Iraq fails to distinguish between these two different purposes, partly because the Bush administration has not done a very good job of articulating these purposes, partly because it has to some degree dissembled on purpose, and partly because the mainstream media and domestic and foreign opponents of the Bush administration have willfully ignored what the President has said. This post encompasses the battle for Iraq, but does not try to define victory in that battle independently of the wider war.

What we may say about the war

Al Qaeda is an ideological movement with a deep philosophical history. It seeks to establish an oppressive regime run on roughly the same basis as the Taliban ruled Afghanistan -- anything less is "apostate." This “Caliphate” is to extend to the high water mark of Islamic conquest in ages past. In al Qaeda's vision, the Caliphate’s lands embrace essentially the entire world from al Andalus (you might call it “Spain”) in the west to East Timor in the east. In the extended version, the Caliphate eventually rules the entire world.

The Caliphate cannot emerge, al Qaeda says, as long as "apostate" regimes rule Muslim lands.

Accordingly, Al Qaeda’s primary enemies are the “apostate” regimes that rule the Muslim world under an authority or according to laws that are inconsistent with al Qaeda’s ideology.

The occupation of “Muslim lands” by Jews is particularly offensive to the jihad.

Al Qaeda believes that neither the apostate regimes nor Israel can defeat al Qaeda over the long-term without the support of the United States and its allies. Therefore, the United States must be induced to withdraw all support for Muslim apostate regimes and the “Zionist entity.”

Al Qaeda means "the base." According to its ideology, it does not intend to win the struggle itself, but to create the conditions under which the Caliphate can emerge.

Al Qaeda and its affiliated and allied organizations are networked. It disseminates its ideology over the web and its orders through routed messages and public pronouncements. If we destroy one part of that network, it will eventually route around the damage.

Al Qaeda’s resources are not, however, unlimited. It relies on supporters for money and people. Therefore, al Qaeda can raise money and recruit people only for so long as its ideology remains credible enough to attract money and people.

The credibility of al Qaeda and its ideology derives from victories against al Qaeda's declared enemies. Bin Laden and his old guard established their credibility against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and strengthened it since through victories in numerous attacks (e.g., Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Yemen, New York, Washington, Bali and Madrid).

Al Qaeda’s ideology has roots that go back a long time. This ideology has significant support throughout the Muslim world and some support in the West. This should not surprise us. Communism also long enjoyed considerable support in the non-communist world, until it was discredited. We should assume that al Qaeda's support will persist until its ideology is discredited.

Jihadis in al Qaeda’s networked war are embedded throughout the world, including in the West. Some of these jihadis were trained in Afghanistan during al Qaeda’s golden years, and others are locally recruited amateurs. Some jihadis are unrecruited amateur rogues who believe the ideology they hear from radical imams or read on the web and decide to act outside the network.

Al Qaeda and its followers are of greatly varying training and competence. A veteran of Afghanistan who can travel in the West is extremely dangerous. An untrained Dutch Muslim on the streets of Amsterdam can kill a few people, but probably cannot kill a great many people and certainly will not be trusted by the people in al Qaeda with that organization’s most precious secrets or assets.

It is therefore important to kill or capture al Qaeda veterans. Yes, others will spring up as long as the ideology remains sufficiently credible to attract new blood. But -- and this is a huge "but" -- the new recruits will take time to train (especially now that Afghanistan is interdicted) and an even longer time to earn the leadership's trust. Every new recruit is a potential spy, and will not soon be trusted with WMD even if the network acquires them in deployable form.

The interests of the United States in the Middle East are so deep that it will not be driven away by garden-variety terrorism. Even multiple bombings such as in London or Madrid would not do it. Only massive casualties might provoke a revision of American policy in the region. Everything else would stiffen American resolve rather than erode it.

Mass casualty attacks are tough to conceive, plan and execute. After September 11, they are even tougher for people who do not blend in well in the West. This means that well-trained Westernized jihadis are even more valuable than they were.

Recognizing that the collapse of the Twin Towers was a “lucky break” from Bin Laden’s perspective, mass casualty attacks are hard to pull off without "weapons of mass destruction" ("WMD").

WMD are difficult to obtain, develop, transport and deploy without the resources of a state and a refuge in which to operate.

There are many states in the world that would love to hurt the United States. These states need not support al Qaeda’s ideology to be willing to strike the United States through al Qaeda.

Nevertheless, many, if not most, of those states can be deterred from doing so, however much they wish it were otherwise.

Our ability to deter these states depends not on our capacity to retaliate (which is indisputable), but on the credibility of the threat that we would retaliate.

A few states have demonstrated such total irrationality that they cannot be deterred, or we cannot rely on the mere hope that they will be deterred. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was one of these regimes, as were the Taliban. Iran may not be deterrable, but is skillful enough at brinksmanship that it probably is (Iran is a lot of things, but it does not appear to be reckless, and recklessness is the most reliable indicator that a country cannot be deterred). Undeterrable states must be interdicted.

“Soft” considerations such as the alleviation of Arab Muslim poverty or a two-state peace in Palestine will have little or no impact on the credibility of al Qaeda’s ideology. There is no evidence that leading jihadis are now or have ever been poor. The sort of people who would be attracted to al Qaeda's ideology are not interested in peace with Israel, only its annihilation. Therefore, these otherwise positive developments will not weaken al Qaeda, at least not in the short term.

Al Qaeda is so embedded in the Muslim world that the West alone can neither destroy its organization nor discredit its ideology. We need help from Muslims, particularly Arabs, to separate the bad guys from the neutrals and the allies. Muslims must bear the brunt of this war, which is for the political heart of Islam.

In the long run, al Qaeda poses an existential threat to Muslim regimes. In the short run, they will respond in the war according to short-term interests. For example, for more than a decade the Saudis bought peace from al Qaeda. Pakistan's cooperativeness ebbs and flows with the pressure brought to bear on its government by the United States and the Islamists, respectively. Both al Qaeda and the United States coerce front-line states into cooperating with varying degrees of success.

For the United States, cooperation means deploying the assets of the state, including the police, intelligence agencies, and military, to fight Islamists, prevent sympathetic citizens from supporting the jihad, deny the jihad safe haven and support American counterterror operations.

For al Qaeda, cooperation means "neutrality," plus a refusal to cooperate with the United States.

Until September 11, the government of Pakistan cooperated with al Qaeda. Since then, it has cooperated with the United States within its political constraints. Those constraints include strong support for Islamists among its population and within its army and secret police. The United States pressures Pakistan whenever it waivers by playing the India card, which the Bush administration has done deftly.

Until the invasion of Iraq, the government of Saudi Arabia cooperated with al Qaeda. Since then, Saudi Arabia has waged a ferocious war against al Qaeda. This switch occurred because the willingness of the United States to put soldiers into the heart of the Arab Middle East redefined the credibility of America's threats, and constituted a commitment from which the United States couldn't easily withdraw. This meant that the United States was deadly serious about the war, as it had not been during the Clinton years, and that gave the Saudis assurance that we would not retreat behind our oceans when the going got rough.

Today's Muslim regimes cannot win this war in the long term. Most of them are absurd governments of kings and princes or brutal generals whose idea of succession planning is primogeniture. (Kings?!? How often do we Americans, who institutionalized lèse-majesté, consider how idiotic a system monarchy really is?) These kings, princes, sheikhs and generals-for-life are clowns, and anybody who views any of them -- even the "moderate" ones -- as better than contemptible is seriously deranged. History is against them, and every thoughtful person in the world knows it. The question is, what will replace them? The jihadis are fighting to install a Caliphate and lower a dark curtain over a fifth of the world. The United States and its courageous allies are fighting to create room for modern democratic governments based on popular sovereignty.

Since the region's clown governments lack credibility and citizens who are willing to take great personal risks to defend them, al Qaeda is able to create spaces in those countries in which to operate (see, e.g., southern Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's "tribal regions"). Where al Qaeda flourishes, it is able to cajole and coerce the local population -- the Average Abdul -- into cooperating. This creates a local base from which it can "vex and exhaust" the apostate regime.

We need Average Abdul to stop cooperating with al Qaeda and to start turning in the jihadis in the back of the mosque. Unfortunately, he won't turn in the jihadis because he is more afraid of them than the local regime and he will not bear any risk to defend the clowns. The jihadis will kill him and his family for blowing the whistle, but the clown regime will neither punish him for keeping silent or induce him to fight the jihadis out of patriotism. Average Abdul, simply put, is unwilling to risk his life for the clown regime, which has not earned his devotion, even for money.

Average Abdul will, however, risk his life for an idea, just as al Qaeda's jihadis do. Once, that idea was pan-Arabism, or Communism. Today, both are discredited. "Moderate Islam," whatever that means in a dusty town in Syria, Jordan or Egypt, obviously does not have the fire to motivate Abdul to risk his life to fight the Islamists. The only idea with the juice to do the job is popular sovereignty. Democracy. This is the realist case for the Bush administration's "democratization strategy."

The jihadis understand this, and fight against democracy in the Arab world with everything they've got, even if it costs them their Ba'athist allies.

In fighting against democracy in the Arab world, the jihadis polarize Arabs. While many decry this polarization as "instability," by its nature polarization creates more enemies of the jihad. Some of these new enemies of jihad will be disgusted with al Qaeda's mass casualty attacks. Others will be inspired by their last, best chance at representative government. Either way, enemies of the jihad pick up a weapon, walk a post and -- most importantly -- drop a dime on their enemy, even if they don't like Americans. Wherever a reasonably representative government emerges, Average Abdul will start to turn in the jihadis in the back of the mosque, now for his own reasons.

Of course, the clown regimes will also try to subvert the democracy movement, which is ultimately as great a threat to their longevity as al Qaeda. That is why they are at least tacitly supporting the resistance in Iraq and fighting political reforms in their own countries tooth and nail, hammer and tongs.

In Iraq, al Qaeda is so concerned that democracy might take root that it has drawn a line in the sand. Having fled Afghanistan and taunted the West with bloody but fundamentally low-impact attacks from London to Bali, al Qaeda has finally put its credibility on the line in Iraq.

Unfortunately for al Qaeda, Iraq is a strategic trap, because the conditions of the battlefield are forcing al Qaeda to inflict massive collateral damage. Its only tools are targeted assassinations, publicized atrocities (such as webcast decapitations) and indiscriminate mass casualty attacks. None of these is endearing al Qaeda to Arabs. It is one thing, after all, to slaughter Westerners, Russians and Jews, but Arab children are another matter entirely. And al Qaeda has no opportunity to build support by doing good in Iraq, as it did in the Taliban's Afghanistan (and as insurgencies from Indochina to Palestine have done). In Iraq and elsewhere in the Muslim world, the jihad cannot build schools or help the poor -- it is the Americans who are doing that. Al Qaeda can only lash out.

In Iraq, al Qaeda's indiscriminate violence does not stand a snowball's chance in Ramadi against 9 million purple fingers. Even its Sunni rejectionist allies will desert the jihadis once they have coerced the best deal they can get from the majority. Al Qaeda has staked its prestige on Iraq. If it is discredited there -- whether by our guile or its own lack of it -- so will its ideology be.

As al Qaeda suffers defeats, its ideology will slowly lose credibility, just as communism did. As its ideological credibility degrades, it will be much harder to attract recruits and money. Also, al Qaeda's ability to coerce the front-line apostate regimes will diminish, and those governments will increasingly cooperate with the West, hoping to preserve some measure of privilege once the war peters out.

So, progress in the war against al Qaeda consists of these elements:

Over the short-term

a. Arrest or kill the jihadis whenever and wherever possible. Yes, their network will route around the damage, but new fighters need to be trained and trusted enough to deploy. When we destroy the old guard we buy critical time.

b. Coerce Muslim states, including especially the clown regimes, into cooperating with the United States. If successful coercion requires that the United States stake its own credibility -- as in Iraq -- so be it.

c. Interdict states, Muslim or otherwise, that we cannot reliably deter from assisting jihadis to acquire and deploy WMD.

d. Do not lose a chance to humiliate al Qaeda on the battlefield.

Each of these methods will inspire -- and have inspired -- resentment in the Muslim world and, indeed, among anti-Americans in the West. While that resentment costs us something and more skillful management of the war might mitigate it, we cannot allow the resentment of others to stay our prosecution of the war.

Over the long-term

x. Give the average Muslim an idea worth fighting for. Average Abdul need not "like" the United States or give us "credit" in any way, shape or form for this strategy to work. He only needs to want to choose his own government and have an idea how to do that.

y. As the winds of history sweep away clown regimes, see that credible, serious, non-jihadi governments take their place. These governments need not be secular, and their institutions do not have to be instantly mature. But they need to be credible and serious, and derive their legitimacy from a broad swath of the population willing to defend them against jihad.

z. We must do what we can to humiliate al Qaeda on the battlefield and foster the repudiation of jihadi ideology in the Muslim world. While public diplomacy may help, one lesson of Iraq is that al Qaeda will discredit itself if we goad it into fighting in the Muslim world rather than in the West. By some accounts, bin Laden wanted the United States to invade Iraq, thinking that it would be a strategic trap for the Americans. If al Qaeda fails to stop the new democracy there, however, Iraq will have been a strategic trap for bin Laden.

The victory condition

Once sufficiently discredited, the ideology of the jihad will no longer attract money and volunteers. We will have won when al Qaeda no longer has the human and financial resources to develop or acquire mass casualty weapons and deploy them in the West or against Western interests in the Middle East.

A final observation

There are more lessons in the Cold War than Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft ever will admit. Like jihadism, communism was conceived 70 years or so before it established its first regime. Thereafter, like jihadism, it enjoyed considerable support even within the countries of the West that opposed it. Nevertheless, after most of a century, communism as anything other than a name was discredited everywhere that mattered, and could no longer attract money or volunteers or even favorable coverage in university newspapers. It will take much less time to discredit the jihad because its first regime was Afghanistan, not the largest Great Power of its age. But we will not have won until we have done so.

48 Comments:

By Anonymous Jim - PRS, at Tue Dec 20, 10:53:00 PM:

OUTSTANDING POST!!

KUDOS!!  

By Anonymous Richard Aubrey, at Tue Dec 20, 11:21:00 PM:

Well done. I especially like the point that it is unnecessary that Average Abdul like us. Very true.

That means when Average Abdul does like us, we're ahead of the game by miles.

It appears that many Iraqis, both civlian and cop/soldier, like our guys. So dropping a dime to help our guys will happen. Gravy.

The earthquake relief effort has changed minds in Pakistan. So, while most of the folks who now like us are not in a position to help, they are at least neutral as regards a chance to hurt, however that may come to them. That's a gain. Ditto in Afghanistan.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Dec 20, 11:24:00 PM:

A tour de force, Hawk. I'm going to have to chew on this one and read the background material.

Nice addition to the conversation.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 20, 11:40:00 PM:

Clear, concise and on point. This one should be mandatory reading for anyone who cares about the future of our country.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 12:02:00 AM:

So right yet so hard for the world to understand as they would have to read all the words you have written. This would be to much work for the leftists who already know who the real ememy is and that enemy is not Jihadists. Keep up the great work.

Cheers,

Jody Green  

By Anonymous Bill Whittle, at Wed Dec 21, 12:30:00 AM:

Good Lord, Man! That was some magnificent thinking!

Really, REALLY first rate analysis. Bravo!  

By Blogger TmjUtah, at Wed Dec 21, 12:31:00 AM:

Tremendous post.

We race to discredit jihadist ideology while the Western Left races to discredit our president, our democracy, and anything else that they can think of that might develop into short term political advantage - all this while we bleed lives and treasure in search of freeing a fifth of the world from barbarism. While we wait for the next mass-casualty attack.

I don't see any evidence that the higher - profile political operatives (if there are any such remaining in positions of influence) on the Left truly realize what they've invested themselves into, and what the price will be for said investment.

It matters which side you choose in a war. There are consequences.

There are many agendas about to be discredited in this next slice of forever. I see a serious shift in western political culture, and it won't have as much to do with the fruits of victory over jihadism as it will over a drastic reassessment and realignment of our own poltical movements.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 01:10:00 AM:

Not-so-Anonymous Jody Green, 12-20, 11:40 PM.--

I couldn't agree more, but it's not just the leftists for whom the Hawk's thinking would be too much effort. Would Bush, or Cheney, or Rumsfeld take the time and make the effort to profit from the work of people like DenBeste and Tigerhawk? Fat Chance.John Van Laer  

By Blogger PacRim Jim, at Wed Dec 21, 01:17:00 AM:

Most important of all is to increase America's economic and military stengths. When it becomes evident to even the most benighted Muslim that they are falling even further behind, a light bulb, however dim, might pop on in their collective head, causing them to wonder why they are circling the drain of history. Then again, perhaps extinction is their fate and not to be naysaid.  

By Blogger gcotharn, at Wed Dec 21, 02:26:00 AM:

The honor of creating one's own national government is trumping Bin Laden's proffer of honorably fighting the American infidel. The honor of living a good life is trumping Bin Laden's proffer of "loving death." The War Against Islamic Extremism is a war of idea vs. idea. Brilliant strategy.

And excellent post.  

By Blogger Tom Grey, at Wed Dec 21, 03:31:00 AM:

Fine and important post.

I think that you fail to mention the strongest point of AQ ideology: anti-West, meaning against the "worst" of the West.
Pornography, divorce, promiscuity, immodesty (especially of women); gross economic inequality; corruption.

As long as the West suffers from these problems, and Sex Lib for women isn't going away from the West, AQ and/or Communism and/or secular Deep Green Environmentalism will keep offering an "alternative." And will remain attractive, if militarily impotent. In this respect, Communism the idea has NOT been thoroughly discredited, only its name.

With respect to "democracy" discrediting AQ, the biggest weakness is corruption. And so far, all democracies suffer from it -- even pseudo-democracies like the EU and UN.

It's too bad the Iraqi "oil wealth" wasn't temporarily put into a Trust Fund for all Iraqis, allowing them to vote later to keep a Trust or not, so as to directly give the people much of the cash, rather than have it for politicians to fight over and reward their supporters with.


I really like your "clown regime" characterization. My own definition of victory is easy:
A World Without Dictators.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 03:47:00 AM:

The most striking incongruity of your text is that, while you describe kings and dictators as clowns, your America herself acts as an omnipotent sovereign: she eliminates enemies, she coerces, she imposes ideology, she dictates conditions of surrender, etc. In the meantime the rest of the world, including one billion Muslims and one and a half billion Chinese (mind you, they are still communists), submits in awe.  

By Blogger tom_d_perkins, at Wed Dec 21, 06:03:00 AM:

Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 03:47:51 AM wrote:

The most striking incongruity of your text is that, while you describe kings and dictators as clowns, your America herself acts as an omnipotent sovereign: she eliminates enemies, she coerces, she imposes ideology, she dictates conditions of surrender, etc. In the meantime the rest of the world, including one billion Muslims and one and a half billion Chinese (mind you, they are still communists), submits in awe.

That would only begin to be true if a desire for politically enforceable individual rights was not the best organizing principle for human nature. It is. It is for China. It is for the Moslem world.

In what fashion, do you think, does t require awe in order to submit to your own most reasonable and heartfelt desires. The US will overthrow the common and benighted thinking of the Moslem world, because it must, it can, and it should. It will also probably have to overthrow the current Chinese clown regime, because it too has too many internal inconsistencies, and inconstistencies with human nature, for it to be a tolerably safe and stable system of government.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp  

By Blogger kathianne, at Wed Dec 21, 06:26:00 AM:

Awesome, I hope GW or associates come by a copy and begin using it to add definition to what is going on. Bravo!  

By Blogger Kelly, at Wed Dec 21, 07:12:00 AM:

Yeah, great stuff. One other thing to toss in the mix, perhaps implied but important to reiterate nonetheless: What the Founders referred to as "inalienable rights" belong to -- and are desired by -- EVERY man and woman, not just whites or Europeans or whatever. I believe that Dubya operates with this as a "First Principle"...that everyone, be he or she Arab, Korean, Chinese, African, or Floridian, wants to live long, as a free and rational actor, and to acquire the means to make for better lives for his/her children, which is a large Happiness. If you choose to believe that some races or cultures REALLY want death, imprisonment both bodily and economically, and no way to pursue better lives for their kids, go right ahead...but then it's like "Who's the racist now?" Will Average Abdul decide to get a job building automobiles at an assembly plant in Baghdad? Who's to say no?  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Wed Dec 21, 07:22:00 AM:

Average Abdul, simply put, is unwilling to risk his life for the clown regime, which has not earned his devotion, even for money.

Average Abdul will, however, risk his life for an idea, just as al Qaeda's jihadis do.


Bingo. Ideas are, at the end of the day, the most powerful force in the universe. This is what I've been arguing for two years. This isn't a war for oil, it's a war for ideas, and anyone who can't see that isn't playing with a full deck because the set of ideas you live under controls everything about your life. Our volunteer military aren't willing to die for oil. They sure as hell are willing to die for an idea: the idea that all men have the right to live under freedom. Forgive me for quoting myself - it's a nasty habit:

Our military - brand new immigrants who enlist before the ink is dry on their visas - believe in those words so strongly that they will lay down their lives to spread the fire of democracy. They also believe (as I do) that their purpose is to serve American foreign policy aims, no matter how abstract and long-term they may seem. No matter how difficult to explain to the American people. No matter how frustrating in the short term.

What kind of world will we bequeath to our grandchildren? It may be that long before we know. But our actions today will have an incalculable effect on that far-off tomorrow. And if our policy is not firmly grounded in the spread of those long-ago words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...

...then I wonder if we shall not be the first Americans who fail to pass the blessings of liberty on to the next generation?


Talk about a WMD. Al Qaeda's got nothing in their arsenal to combat something as powerful as that.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Wed Dec 21, 07:31:00 AM:

And by the way, that was a hell of a post my friend. I'm afraid to go to sleep any more for fear I'll wake up and you'll have written a 100-page foreign policy treatise.

Very well done :) I'm going for another cup of coffee and a re-read.  

By Anonymous Tim, at Wed Dec 21, 07:49:00 AM:

The same analysis could be used in the US's struggle for racial equality.

The ideas of the KKK and their ilk ruled the south for 100 years before their ideas were found to be deficient. This thought is important in deciding what is victory.  

By Blogger EddieP, at Wed Dec 21, 07:55:00 AM:

Great analysis, great post. Should be mandatory reading for the lefties in the Congress and MSM who haven't figured it out yet.

TmjUtah

Are you suggesting GWB and company don't realize that this GWOT is a war of ideas?

What would you call that which they are pursuing?
Regards  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Wed Dec 21, 08:09:00 AM:

Damn, TH. Bill Whittle comments that you wrote a first rate analysis? You may have just jumped the shark. Things can't get much better from here. You may want to consider retirement.  

By Blogger Skippy-san, at Wed Dec 21, 08:10:00 AM:

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

So many things are wrong here, I do not know where to begin. First, I will start with the perception of Al Quaeda as a monolithic unit. Its not and never was. As you state they got lucky on Sept 11 and are really not in a position to pull it off again, mainly due to the military action in Afghanistan NOT the one in Iraq.

Furthermore, economic progress is what really benefits the US and that does not require democracy as the UAE and the rest of the Trucial states have proven. For that matter China proves that point every day. Also you are confusing what may be good for the average Arab on the street with what is good for the US. They are two different things and the only thing the US should care about is what is good for us. Screw the Arabs, for they will do the same for us, regardless of the government in place. Iraq will, like Weimar Germany vote its own dictator into place soon because in the end people will be willing to trade security for some of their freedoms. The only question is whether it will be a benign strongman like in Singapore or a harsh one. Actually Iraq would probably benefit from a strong monoarchy or a one party state like Singapore and allow itself to grow economically.

You would be better off thinking of this "war" as simply the fruits of our not encouraging the British and the French in 1956. Had we supported them in Suez we would probably not be here today.

In the end, two things will need to happen for real peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians need to give up the fantasy that they can have a functional state and get their lazy Arab asses elsewhere and allow Israel to exist. And B) they need to rid themselves of the albatross that is Islam. They will do neither, unfortunately so they will have to be dealt with. I do not care if they have democracy or not, so long as the governments that are there are aligned with US and sell us oil which is their only real puprose on earth to begin with.

This is not a war in any sense of the word, but a struggle to regain national sovereignty and security. That never has an end state but is an ongoing struggle.

This simply is more tripe for the masses........  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Wed Dec 21, 08:15:00 AM:

"There are more lessons in the Cold War than Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft ever will admit." I revisited the assumptions of my comfortable status quo internationalism after the Wall fell. Reagan's direct challenges worked. It's not enough to play a 4-corners stall. Sometimes, you've got to shake things up.  

By Anonymous Willis, at Wed Dec 21, 08:43:00 AM:

Its a shame that the two great divisions of political thought reflected in blue states and red states can't collaborate to contest the war against terror. We are such a great country and could achieve so much if we had not become the house divided against itself that Lincoln sought to avoid. One possibe achievement could be to define different levels of war with different modifications to our civil liberties for each condition, rather than having to agree on one definition of war and decide when it existed or not.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 09:15:00 AM:

So many things are wrong here, I do not know where to begin. First, I will start with the perception of Al Quaeda as a monolithic unit. Its not and never was. As you state they got lucky on Sept 11 and are really not in a position to pull it off again, mainly due to the military action in Afghanistan NOT the one in Iraq.

It does not need to be monolithic for this essay to be perfectly valid, it need only be true that the differing organizations claiming allegiance to AlQaeda be similar enough to that headed by BinLaden personally—and they are.


Furthermore, economic progress is what really benefits the US and that does not require democracy as the UAE and the rest of the Trucial states have proven. For that matter China proves that point every day. Also you are confusing what may be good for the average Arab on the street with what is good for the US. They are two different things and the only thing the US should care about is what is good for us. Screw the Arabs, for they will do the same for us, regardless of the government in place. Iraq will, like Weimar Germany vote its own dictator into place soon because in the end people will be willing to trade security for some of their freedoms. The only question is whether it will be a benign strongman like in Singapore or a harsh one. Actually Iraq would probably benefit from a strong monoarchy or a one party state like Singapore and allow itself to grow economically.

As the riots recently occurring in China show, even in the most authoritarian regimes, economic progress cannot be long unaccompanied by politically enforceable individual rights. Economic progress without such rights benefits the people producing the progress only at the whim of the clown running the regime, and eventually they slow progress to untenable levels or they overthrow the regime.

You would be better off thinking of this "war" as simply the fruits of our not encouraging the British and the French in 1956. Had we supported them in Suez we would probably not be here today.

Sure. Two powers who had no prayer of having the wherewithal to keep their empires could magic up the force to keep Egypt out of its own backyard—and we weren’t going to help them if it meant fighting the Soviets in the Sinai. This fight was at least 100 years in the making, with the specifics of Wahhabism springing quite naturally from the nature of Islam itself. This war is about the failure of Islam to conquer the world, and the trouble Moslems are having accommodating themselves to that fact.

In the end, two things will need to happen for real peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians need to give up the fantasy that they can have a functional state and get their lazy Arab asses elsewhere and allow Israel to exist. And B) they need to rid themselves of the albatross that is Islam. They will do neither, unfortunately so they will have to be dealt with. I do not care if they have democracy or not, so long as the governments that are there are aligned with US and sell us oil which is their only real puprose on earth to begin with.

The Palestinians already in Israel have a functional state, and for the most part they want to keep it. The Palestinians not in Israel have nowhere to go and no one can justifiably make claims on them to leave. Yes the Palestinians in the Gaza and West Bank should get rid of their clowns, and they may not. It is not in America’s best interests--with respect to the wider war on terror, which is our greater concern--for the Palestinians to be dealt with, for example, in a fashion that involves the creation of Greater Israel, or the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in great or small numbers.

This is not a war in any sense of the word, but a struggle to regain national sovereignty and security. That never has an end state but is an ongoing struggle.

America has not lost national sovereignty, and its security has never been that bad, compared to the rest of the world. Of course that struggle is ongoing, what a banal and un-insightful thing to write.

This simply is more tripe for the masses........

Well, certainly what you have written is tripe.

Yours, TDP, ml, ml, & pfpp  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 09:28:00 AM:

Once more, with formatting…

Skippy-San wrote:

So many things are wrong here, I do not know where to begin. First, I will start with the perception of Al Quaeda as a monolithic unit. Its not and never was. As you state they got lucky on Sept 11 and are really not in a position to pull it off again, mainly due to the military action in Afghanistan NOT the one in Iraq.

It does not need to be monolithic for this essay to be perfectly valid, it need only be true that the differing organizations claiming allegiance to AlQaeda be similar enough to that headed by BinLaden personally—and they are.

Furthermore, economic progress is what really benefits the US and that does not require democracy as the UAE and the rest of the Trucial states have proven. For that matter China proves that point every day. Also you are confusing what may be good for the average Arab on the street with what is good for the US. They are two different things and the only thing the US should care about is what is good for us. Screw the Arabs, for they will do the same for us, regardless of the government in place. Iraq will, like Weimar Germany vote its own dictator into place soon because in the end people will be willing to trade security for some of their freedoms. The only question is whether it will be a benign strongman like in Singapore or a harsh one. Actually Iraq would probably benefit from a strong monoarchy or a one party state like Singapore and allow itself to grow economically.

As the riots recently occurring in China show, even in the most authoritarian regimes, economic progress cannot be long unaccompanied by politically enforceable individual rights. Economic progress without such rights benefits the people producing the progress only at the whim of the clown running the regime, and eventually they slow progress to untenable levels or they overthrow the regime.

You would be better off thinking of this "war" as simply the fruits of our not encouraging the British and the French in 1956. Had we supported them in Suez we would probably not be here today.

Sure. Two powers who had no prayer of having the wherewithal to keep their empires could magic up the force to keep Egypt out of its own backyard—and we weren’t going to help them if it meant fighting the Soviets in the Sinai. This fight was at least 100 years in the making, with the specifics of Wahhabism springing quite naturally from the nature of Islam itself. This war is about the failure of Islam to conquer the world, and the trouble Moslems are having accommodating themselves to that fact.

In the end, two things will need to happen for real peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians need to give up the fantasy that they can have a functional state and get their lazy Arab asses elsewhere and allow Israel to exist. And B) they need to rid themselves of the albatross that is Islam. They will do neither, unfortunately so they will have to be dealt with. I do not care if they have democracy or not, so long as the governments that are there are aligned with US and sell us oil which is their only real puprose on earth to begin with.

The Palestinians already in Israel have a functional state, and for the most part they want to keep it. The Palestinians not in Israel have nowhere to go and no one can justifiably make claims on them to leave. Yes the Palestinians in the Gaza and West Bank should get rid of their clowns, and they may not. It is not in America’s best interests--with respect to the wider war on terror, which is our greater concern--for the Palestinians to be dealt with, for example, in a fashion that involves the creation of Greater Israel, or the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in great or small numbers.

This is not a war in any sense of the word, but a struggle to regain national sovereignty and security. That never has an end state but is an ongoing struggle..

America has not lost national sovereignty, and its security has never been that bad, compared to the rest of the world. Of course that struggle is ongoing, what a banal and un-insightful thing to write.

This simply is more tripe for the masses........

Well, certainly what you have written is tripe.

Yours, TDP, ml, ml, & pfpp  

By Blogger Sammler, at Wed Dec 21, 09:31:00 AM:

An earlier, anonymous commenter said:
The most striking incongruity of your text is that, while you describe kings and dictators as clowns, your America herself acts as an omnipotent sovereign: she eliminates enemies, she coerces, she imposes ideology, she dictates conditions of surrender, etc...

This is a perfect example of the "Nations are People Too" fallacy.  

By Anonymous Cecil Turner, at Wed Dec 21, 09:33:00 AM:

Good post. I found it reminiscent of one of Bush's best strategy speeches (at last year's Air Force Academy graduation):
"We bring more than a vision to this conflict -- we bring a strategy that will lead to victory. And that strategy has four commitments:
"First, we are using every available tool to dismantle, disrupt and destroy terrorists and their organizations. . . "
"Secondly, we are denying terrorists places of sanctuary or support. . . "
"Third, we are using all elements of our national power to deny terrorists the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek. . ."
"Fourth and finally, we are denying the terrorists the ideological victories they seek by working for freedom and reform in the broader Middle East. . . "


It appears to me he gets it, and for obvious reasons, the President needs to be somewhat careful with his statements. Still, he could use some more plain speech on the subject (with the emphasis on *more*). Again, nicely done.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 09:40:00 AM:

You may be overemphasizing Al Qaeda, which has been beaten and backed into a cave by the US. Al Qaeda only survives in the public mind by lending its name to other Islamic terror groups. It would be more correct to say we are fighting the Wahhabis, of which Al Qaeda is a part. More to the point, Al Qaeda is an iceberg broken off from the Wahhabi glacier of Islamic bigotry in Saudi Arabia, the nexus of all this evil.

The problem of this murderous Islamic bigotry is bigger than Al Qaeda or the Wahhabis. It is part of Islam, which has waged war against non-Muslims for most of its history and continues to do so now. The current campaign of Wahhabi terror is part of the general jihad against the world that occupied the Muslim world for the first millenium of their existence, until they grew too exhausted and Western technology too powerful to fight. Their will to jihad has been refreshed by petrodollars after three centuries respite.

I disagree that Saudi Arabia has turned against Al Qaeda or Islamic terrorism in general. They, like other Muslim countries, are for Muslim terror in infidel countries. They only oppose it when waged in their own country. Had Al Qaeda not been beaten back into their Saudi homeland, the Saudis would still be fully funding their beheadings abroad.

While the Saudis fight the terrorists trying to overthrow them, they are still indoctrinating new cohorts of college students in jihad in their universities, still sending terrorists around the world to places like Thailand to stoke the jihad. The covert foreign policy of Saudi Arabia is bloody religious imperialism. This war will continue as long as the Saudis are not directly confronted for this and while Saudi Arabia remains a sanctuary for the Islamic war against the world. Simply put, Saudi Arabia must end: Saudi Arabia delenda est.

The petrodollars that feed Wahhabism must be cut off. The oil fields of the eastern provinces and the people of the Hijaz should be stripped out of Saudi control and formed into its own state, perhaps ruled by more moderate Hashemites, like those in Jordan. Give the Wahhabis back to the bare desert they came from. Let them preach jihad to the camels and sand fleas.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Wed Dec 21, 10:18:00 AM:

Hawk,

I don't know how to do all that fancy trackbackin', but you've been linked at Scrutiny Hooligans.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Wed Dec 21, 10:49:00 AM:

My response to Skippy-san was WAY too long to put in a comment, so it is in a post (above).

To summarize, rubbish. What's good for us *is* good for Abdul, and vice versa. The world is far too connected now for us to pretend we live in some kind of Luddite, Jeffersonian utopian. Maybe when the caliphate takes over and they take away our cell phones, Internet, and cable TV you'll have your way again and we can all be isolationists again.

I leave you to it, but that sort of thinking went out with the dinosaurs.  

By Anonymous sam, at Wed Dec 21, 11:04:00 AM:

Great writing. I'm a Democrat in terms of party registration, but I pretty much agree down the line, especially on the "clown reigmes" issue. You also did a good job of summarizing why I haven't been able to follow fellow Dems over the pullout cliff.

That said, I'm a bit concerned by agenda items x. and y. To date, I see the Bush Administration performing little groundwork for the event of future, non-clown governments outside of Iraq. The neoWilsonian rhetoric is all well and good, but I think the Bush Administration has pretty well proven that it cares little about what those outside the U.S. think about U.S. policy and this record makes it easy to for enemies (or less than helpful allies) to undercut a long term hearts and minds campaign. I also see little articulation of what a post-clown middle east would look like. Lebanon was an interesting glimpse, but outside the blogosphere, I don't see too many people throwing that out as an example for others to follow.

Anyway, I know the U.S. has enough on its hands, but I think those of us on both side of the stand-and-fight camp agree that the Prez has to do a way better job of articulating the long term game plan. If the House of Saud collapsed tomorrow (inshallah), do we have a contigency beyond securing the oil fields? That's 25 million people who haven't even seen a parliamentary election, much less a copy of "Common Sense." The Saud's are financing mosques and madrassa's around the globe. What are we financing inside that country to take the place of monarchy?

Long story short, Tigerhawk, I'm with you on a. b. c., but
I'd like to see a little more government action on x., y. and z. Wars tend to work better when there's a glimpse of a better world on the other side. We still have yet to cross the Emancipation Proclamation stage of this bloody struggle.  

By Blogger TM Lutas, at Wed Dec 21, 12:02:00 PM:

The preconditions for replacing the clown regimes is simple, a graduated series of elections where politicians pursuing bad policies get a chance to show how bad they are. They get discredited over time and either exit the political stage or change their policy prescriptions. As long as elections themselves are not discontinued, bad policies will, eventually get replaced by better policies. The arab states are very likely going to go through what the slow performers in E. Europe did, some pretty unattractive governments that mutate into something better.  

By Blogger Electronic Bubba, at Wed Dec 21, 01:48:00 PM:

hell fire feller, you musta tap into my brane! i wuz tellin ned same thang tuther day!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 03:10:00 PM:

Some truly inspired commentary there, Tigerhawk. I'll be passing this link around.

This is a tough topic, but important as hell.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 03:12:00 PM:

Excellent overview, very much to the point. The only thing I take issue with is this: "This switch occurred because the willingness of the United States to put soldiers into the heart of the Arab Middle East redefined the credibility of America's threats, and constituted a commitment from which the United States couldn't easily withdraw. This meant that the United States was deadly serious about the war, as it had not been during the Clinton years, and that gave the Saudis assurance that we would not retreat behind our oceans when the going got rough." Since we first put troops into the heart of the Middle East in 1990 and kept forces there, periodically bombing and Tomahawking Iraq and other places during the 1990s, I think there was ample proof of our seriousness during the "Clinton years." It's indisputable that there was no consensus anywhere along the political spectrum for invading Afghanistan to excise al-Qaeda and its Taliban host before 9/11. Events create new realities and a new consensus. Invading Iraq, however, is more ambiguous: it's nice to knock off one of the "clowns" who has been abusing his people and destabilizing his region, but there's not much evidence that the Bush administration calculated the long-term cost. Which we're clearly going to pay, no matter how much or how long.  

By Blogger Skippy-san, at Wed Dec 21, 06:01:00 PM:

Perhaps what I have written is tripe, since I happen to still believe in the concept of national soverignty, namely that nations can and must develop on their own path with out interferene from other nations.

I simply do not accept the premise that the US or anyone else can forcilbly midwife democracy in the Middle East. It will have to come on its own with the US on the sidelines cheering it on, not invading and being in the middle of a nation we have no buisness being involved in. There are a lot more eloquent men who have written the same opinion far better than I. Brent Scowcroft and James Webb are too that come instantly to mind.

Be careful what one wishes for , for we will surely get it...within 5 years Iraq will have a Shite strongman at the helm, and automomous Kurd region and a civil war on its hands. It will have all been democractically voted in and our ability to influence events will be diminished because of decisions we made in 2004 and 2005....

You are correct that I am biased in favor of Israel. I support Eretz Yisrael and always will. And I am predjudiced against Arabs. Spending a year in Israel will do that to a person......  

By Blogger Dr. Demarche, at Wed Dec 21, 07:23:00 PM:

Simply an outstanding post that touches on many key themes- most importantly that it does not matter if they like us, as long as they have something that is more important to them than hating us. I am concerned with our ability to deal with the "long term" goals, as our definition of long term does not match the al Qaeda idea of a multigenerational struggle, however. Great job, thanks for posting this.  

By Blogger TmjUtah, at Wed Dec 21, 08:07:00 PM:

EddieP -

I'm not sure where in my above post I might have been construed as suggesting this isn't a war of ideas.

I believe the administration published its strategy effectively beginning with the AFA academy speech, and hasn't wavered since in presenting the rise of democracy as the best solution to the threat.

Granted, you have to get past newspapers, TV, and magazines to actually read the speeches in their entirety to get an accurate picture.

The Bush Doctrine is an implicit statement in support of representative democracy for ALL people. Constitutional democracy, based on individual rights and individual sovereignty via elections.

I do believe that the unambiguity of the Doctrine, combined with Bush's previous disinterest in putting on an endless nineties-styly PR campaign contributes much to what pisses off the Left. They don't think it works here, much less as a potential system where the brown people are concerned. Sad what "liberal" has come to mean.

Engaging Average Abdul on the terms of his own interest isn't revolutionary political theory except in the sense there's never been an opportunity for it to happen before.

This was never a war to be won by brute force. I never saw it as being presented that way at all. The Left HATES the very idea that this administration has promulgated this policy; they have damned conflict of the moment as failure of the entire endlessly for just that reason.

Think back to "Mission Accomplished". That was NEVER about winning the war, from the administration - it was about celebrating/honoring success on the way to victory. Can't be having any of that, said the defeatists.

Respect,

TmjUtah  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 21, 09:22:00 PM:

Nice analysis.

As an ideological war the emphasis currently seems focused on al Qaeda loosing as opposed to democracy winning. One has to wonder whether a greater emphasis on democratic regimes regaining their technological advantage might not be more productive overall.

If the US had paid more attention to its own technological and economical might I doubt it would have had to go into Iraq in the first place. In showing such weakness the US has opened itself up to such ideological challenges, and this will not be the last.

Pete.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Wed Dec 21, 09:55:00 PM:

The bumpersticker version is

They don't have to like us,
They just have to like democracy.  

By Anonymous AmberJanePS, at Wed Dec 21, 10:25:00 PM:

As a liberal democrat, war opponent, surgeon, and occasional habituée of the liberal blogosphere, I enjoyed this post a great deal because it lays out, in a measured and non-shrill fashion, some of the argument for staying in Iraq, what victory there actually might look like, and the general conditions under which our troops might be able to be withdrawn.

I don't agree with these arguments necessarily. But the debate is elevated by your making them. Thank you.

One example: Securing the blessings of liberty to people other than ourselves and our posterity is frankly, in my opinion, their problem. As Goldwater put it succinctly, "We are friends of liberty everywhere, but the guardians of only our own." You spell out a chain of reasoning that leads from "Al Qaeda means us harm" to "Democratizing the middle east undermines them fatally" that mostly holds together, but I think the chain branches more than your essay indicates.

For example, undeterrable regimes can be interdicted. They can also be contained. Though containment was working poorly in the time prior to the invasion of Iraq that doesn't necessarily invalidate the strategy, just its implementation in that case.

The continuing conflation of Iraq's former regime and Al Qaeda troubles me as well. The president said something in the presidential debate last year about "We had to make sure Saddam didn't have a WMD because he might give it to Al Qaeda." It seems to me that if he were able to develop a WMD he'd do what Kim Jong Il has done - announce that he has one or several and use that to secure the integrity of his regime. I don't see how even a rogue regime is going to give its greatest strategic asset to a terrorist group, ever.

It is, I believe, widely accepted that the secular Ba'ath regime was as anathema to Al Qaeda as the Soviets or the US, almost. And Saddam never treated Islam as anything more than a suit of clothes to put on occasionally as it suited him.

Finally, it's important to distinguish aims from outcomes. Al Qaeda claims to want, and in fact probably does want, all sorts of stuff. Heck, I want stuff too. I'd love to have a 24 inch waist again but I don't think it's going to happen on this side of the holidays at any rate. What Al Qaeda can actually obtain, however, is another matter. I'd argue that it's more important to constrain their capabilities, and to understand what those are, than to design strategy around the opponents objectives in isolation.

And as for objectives, TigerHawk's observation of the long term way to beat these people is spot on: offer a better ideology. Maybe democracy is it, maybe it's just Mammon. Or stability. Dubai today, and Singapore two decades ago, are both nice, if not terribly democratic, places.

Thanks again. Much appreciated.

Jane C. Bernstein, MD  

By Anonymous tatiana, at Thu Dec 22, 02:23:00 AM:

On how to discredit AQ: feminists surely have a role to play here. More attention should be given to how women are treated by the Islamic fundies. Women and men who care about women should be horrified!! Where is Hollywood when you need it? They could be making teeth curling films about women's lives in the coming Caliphate.  

By Blogger Solomon2, at Thu Dec 22, 08:43:00 AM:

Pretty good, more concise than my "dialogue" of a year ago, with some new elements added and others emphasized. The victory condition seems insufficient, however, as it implies the U.S. can "relax" once it is achieved - it assumes other non-state entities won't form and be tempted to attack the U.S. again.  

By Anonymous gringoman, at Thu Dec 22, 07:22:00 PM:

Commendable attempt to light up the labyrinth. But I wonder if 'AQ and its off-shoots' is an adequate definition of what the West is up against. Does it include the prospect of a post-Dec. 15, 2005 Iraq of Shia fanatics ("democratically elected")or nuclear mullahs in non-Wahabbi Iran? Does it factor in a politically correct West which cannot or will not grapple with Islam? (At my site there's a little post on this subject: BOB DYLAN, ALLAH AND SECULAR SAMMY)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 23, 05:07:00 PM:

I'm a troglodite (World War II Vet)
and today, I see the Jasons and Freddies of Al Quaida copying the self-immolation tactics 0f the Japanese Empire. At the time it took a horrible shock or two to snap the Japanese out of their murderous trance. Now they seem to be saying "thanks, I needed that."  

By Blogger geoffgo, at Wed Mar 01, 01:22:00 AM:

Weaponize Freedom1
Inflict Democracy!
Islam free your slaves!

IMHO, there should be no drawdown near-term. Why bring home the battle-hardened troops, when we have other clown regimes to deal with? A pullback to secure eastern and western bases, at both the Iraqi and Afgani borders seems more appropriate.

As to the long view, Islam has tens of millions of potential activists/rabble rousers/agents in every country in the West; we have few in any Islamic countries. And, they've demonstrated they can issue the call/fatwah, and tens of thousands, perhaps millions will answer.

Does anyone doubt that call to murder will go out, for any action we decide to take in Iran?

I endorse our host's beautifully articluated principles, but I have to ask: what do we do about the hate-spewing imams, while we wait for freedom to work its magic?

Can the West endure the death by a thousand cuts these fanatics advocate every friday, and not get really p*ssed? Just askin.  

By Blogger Poons, at Wed Aug 08, 01:16:00 AM:

Iran is a friend of Afghanistan against Taliban/Al Qaeda and an enemy of US in a war against Al Qaeda.
Go figure! Iran is Afghanistan's friend and US' enemy in an Upside down War!  

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