Jay Reding.com

Seeing The Larger War

Eric Scheie raises the important question about whether this war is about bin Laden or the larger question of radical Islam. One of my biggest criticisms of the John Kerry position on the war is that it’s based on the assumption that al-Qaeda is the only threat we need to be worried about. Just “going after bin Laden” will never be enough because bin Laden is a symptom of a larger problem. If bin Laden is in fact dead, or sometime in the future he ends up in hellfire courtesy of a Hellfire, the war isn’t going to be over. As the Anchoress quite astutely observes:

The ugly truth no one wants to admit, particularly within the left, is that this enemy is going to keep coming and coming at us…when we take one out, another will -for a while yet – be able to step up into his place. When we foil one ring, another will be just about ready to attack. While we’re cleaning out one rat’s nest, three more are being formed. That is why this is going to be a decades-long effort, no matter WHO gets into the WH in a few years, and no matter how much some would like to pretend that all of this is simply George W. Bush’s doing, because – you know – terrorism never existed before he got into office, or before he went to Iraq.

The Democrats know that they cannot win on national security right now. The Democratic Party has become so throughly permeated with the Blame America First crowd that to strongly come out against our enemies without risking their party splitting right down the seams. Hugh Hewitt has a very perceptive analysis of this situation as it regards to the left-wing blogosphere and The Daily Kos:

I’m sure Markos is appalled by the developments of this week. That’s not because he’s outraged by Chavez’s or Ahmadenijad’s comments; he considers making such analyses and reaching such conclusions either above or below his pay-grade. All he cares about is the politics of any situation and he surely knows that the events this week are bad news for the left.

Part of the reason he knows it’s bad politics is because the progressive blogosphere, which he putatively (but does not in actuality) lead, could not exercise any discipline when Chavez dangled red meat in front of it. Their knees jerked, and they wrote rubbish like how they preferred Chavez and Ahmadenijad to Bush. Any Americans paying attention would be appalled. More importantly, a lot of Americans who don’t really pay attention, i.e. the vast majority of the country, can’t help but notice that America’s enemies are insulting our nation on our soil. And they’re using the rhetoric of America’s left. In a crude equation, therefore, America’s left is the equivalent of America’s enemy.

That is a crude equivocation, but it also has the benefit of being true. When Hugo Chavez starts holding up a book by left-wing icon Noam Chomsky, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the connection. When Osama bin Laden’s last video statement sounds like Fahrenheit 9/11 the idea that there’s an ideological connection between the left and America’s enemies becomes rather hard to retort. When you have the radical fringe of the Democratic Party openly emphasizing with America’s enemies as many did last week, the idea that the left and America’s enemies share common cause no longer becomes a slur, but a legitimate point of argument.

I don’t personally think that the Democratic Party is the equivalent to al-Qaeda, and I think it’s stupid and disrespectful to make that argument. At the same time, they don’t have to be. What is true is that the Democratic Party would not prosecute this war in the way it needs to be prosecuted. They don’t have a sufficient awareness of the threat, and it’s fair to say that they would prefer to get bin Laden and change the subject as quickly as possible.

It was common to say that America “woke up” after 9/11. Sadly, that isn’t true for a large segment of our population. We’re still not seeing the larger war here, the clash of civilizations that is now being thrust upon us. There is a civil war within the heart of Islam, and the entire world is caught in the crossfire. Al-Qaeda is currently the noisiest faction, but Hizballah, Hamas, and a whole slew of minor jihadi groups have already attacked American interests and will do so again. Their demands are that either the United States completely and totally submit to the will of Islam or be destroyed — we can’t negotiate our way out of this situation, and so long as these groups are allowed to exist and find purchase any “peace” will only be a delay of the time when the United States sees the kind of terrorism that has ripped through countries like Israel and Iraq.

Sadly, I think that many in this nation are too self-obsessed to notice the danger until it is too late. We’re in the panem et circenses stage in our country where the piddling interests of playing partisan political football are of far more interest then in actually winning the war. It has become quite clear that many on the left, perhaps a majority, feel that defeating George W. Bush is more important than winning the war, and are perfectly willing to set the war effort back in order to achieve their political goals. That is certainly true of the Kossacks who now wield a huge influence over Democratic Party politics.

The next terrorist attack will be even more devastating than the brutality of September 11, 2001. Biological and chemical weapons are ideally suited to terrorism, and it is only a matter of time before a terrorist uses such a weapon to devastate an American city. Especially in the case of bioterrorism, where one vial of weaponized smallpox could decimate the American population, the results would be nothing short of apocalyptic. It is far better that we take the chance that democratization of the Middle East may fail than it is to wait for the day when our backs are pushed to the wall. The left wants Iraq to fail, despite the fact that it would hand al-Qaeda the greatest victory they’ve ever had.

Thankfully, the President may have many faults, but at least he and many in our government do see and understand the threat. The Democrats may be purging the Scoop Jackson/Harry S. Truman/JFK wing of their party, but those who have been left behind have found an uneasy alliance with the GOP. The withdrawal-now ideology has found little purchase outside the radical fringe of the Democratic Party. It is fortunate for us all that American politics tends to seek the center and punishes radicalism.

The only question is whether our polity will come to an understanding as to what our goals are in this war before we have no choice but to confront a radical Islam that has metastized throughout the world and threatens our society in a way we can’t even yet imagine. When terrorists are routinely targeting school buses and shopping malls, we’ll have no choice but to confront the enemy that threatens us — however, we should never allow things to get that bad before we take action.

6 responses to “Seeing The Larger War”

  1. Mark says:

    “Eric Scheie raises the important question about whether this war is about bin Laden or the larger question of radical Islam.”

    Too bad Eric Scheie didn’t raise the REALLY important question about whether this war is about the larger question of radical Islam or a secular dictator with no real world ties to radical Islam. Assuming it’s the latter, invading Iraq was the greatest foreign policy blunder in world history.

    This entire argument is a strawman. Bin Laden is the driving force behind al-Qaeda. It’s fair to say that if not for Osama, radical Islam would have neither the resources nor the motivation necessary to commandeer the anti-American jihad that they have undertaken. Does that mean that the “larger question of radical Islam” would go away tomorrow if Bin Laden was determined dead today? Of course not. But just as toppling Saddam Hussein was the necessary first step in the path to regime change in Iraq, delivering a full body blow to radical Islam requires the capture of its mastermind and chief financier.

    I’d love to make a deal with conservatives though. If by some stroke of luck the Bush administration succeeds in capturing or killing Bin Laden, I will agree with Republicans that Bin Laden is merely a powerless figurehead whose capture means nothing in the larger war on terrorism if the Bush administration holds only one press conference following his capture where they refuse to take any credit for the “hollow victory” of capturing victory, and then move onto other issues. Deal?

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Too bad Eric Scheie didn’t raise the REALLY important question about whether this war is about the larger question of radical Islam or a secular dictator with no real world ties to radical Islam. Assuming it’s the latter, invading Iraq was the greatest foreign policy blunder in world history.

    Except Iraq did have ties to radical Islam, and also happens to be geographically in the middle of the region where radical Islam draws its strength. The only way to win this battle is to fix the problem that feeds radical Islam, and that is the cultural failure of the Middle East in adapting to modernity. Iraq was and still is central to that goal, and while it may be a very long time before we can win that battle, it doesn’t at all follow that we shouldn’t try.

    This entire argument is a strawman. Bin Laden is the driving force behind al-Qaeda. It’s fair to say that if not for Osama, radical Islam would have neither the resources nor the motivation necessary to commandeer the anti-American jihad that they have undertaken.

    Except radical Islam is much bigger than Osama. He was just the first to develop an organization capable of striking the US directly. Right now, Osama isn’t providing anything but moral support to the worldwide jihadi movement – he’s too isolated to be in any direct control.

    Does that mean that the “larger question of radical Islam” would go away tomorrow if Bin Laden was determined dead today? Of course not. But just as toppling Saddam Hussein was the necessary first step in the path to regime change in Iraq, delivering a full body blow to radical Islam requires the capture of its mastermind and chief financier.

    Which assumes he’s still either of those things. It’s rather hard to plan operations when you’re in the middle of a cave — or possibly dead. In terms of the day-to-day operations of radical Islamists worldwide, bin Laden isn’t important except as a figurehead.

    Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ice the bastard if we can, but taking him out won’t change the operational assessment by much at all. Zawahiri’s almost certainly the operational head of al-Qaeda now — taking him out would probably be a bigger blow than taking out Osama.

    I’d love to make a deal with conservatives though. If by some stroke of luck the Bush administration succeeds in capturing or killing Bin Laden, I will agree with Republicans that Bin Laden is merely a powerless figurehead whose capture means nothing in the larger war on terrorism if the Bush administration holds only one press conference following his capture where they refuse to take any credit for the “hollow victory” of capturing victory, and then move onto other issues. Deal?

    It would be a major moral victory for the US, but nobody in the Bush Administration thinks that capturing Osama would end the war — although Senator Kerry and his ilk have argued exactly that on more than one occasion.

  3. Justin says:

    “It would be a major moral victory for the US, but nobody in the Bush Administration thinks that capturing Osama would end the war — although Senator Kerry and his ilk have argued exactly that on more than one occasion.”

    Citations, please?

  4. Justin says:

    Yeah, that’s kind of what I thought. I followed Kerry’s campaign pretty closely and I don’t remember a single instance where he ever implied that the capture of bin Laden would end the war on terror.

  5. Jay Reding says:

    Yeah, that’s kind of what I thought. I followed Kerry’s campaign pretty closely and I don’t remember a single instance where he ever implied that the capture of bin Laden would end the war on terror.

    Except for the fact that Kerry had no plan beyond just “going after Osama” — well, other than an arbitrary pullout of Iraq.

  6. Justin says:

    “Except for the fact that Kerry had no plan beyond just “going after Osama” — well, other than an arbitrary pullout of Iraq.”

    Are you just making this up as you go along? Part of your Kerry Derangement Syndrome, I guess. Wasn’t it you who started calling him “John Fucking Kerry”? That’s certainly the mark of a dispassionate political observer who we can trust to have an accurate recollection of Kerry’s campaign positions.