Taking The War To The Enemy

Michael Ledeen has a very good column in NRO on why the US must not confine the war to Iraq.

In other words, we cannot win in Iraq without defeating the other terror masters as well. Simple common sense required that we do what President Bush proclaimed shortly after September 11: move forcefully against the terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor and support them. But we did not do that. Instead, the president permitted himself to be dragged into the same trap he fell into after Afghanistan: delaying any further action until the Israel/Palestinian problem was "solved." This time it was called a roadmap, but, both in concept and consequence, there was no meaningful difference between this scheme and the earlier Saudi trap. Just as it was folly to believe that peace could be achieved in any part of the Middle East merely because Afghanistan had been freed of the grip of the terror masters, so it was a mistake to expect terror to end simply because Saddam Hussein had been overthrown. Just as the delay after Afghanistan permitted our enemies to organize their political, diplomatic, and terrorist forces against us, so our current defensive stance enables them to intimidate and indoctrinate the Iraqi people, murder our own men and women on the ground, and galvanize the president’s critics and opponents, both at home and abroad.

Ledeen is right about this. We are not engaged in a war against Iraq’s Ba’athists alone. We are engaged in a war against a network of terrorist groups any of which poses a direct threat to this nation. We cannot go after al-Qaeda and ignore Islamic Jihad, nor can we be content to just sit in Iraq and allow terrorists to continue to destablize that nation.

When we entered into this battle after September 11 we did not just enter into a war that can be left half-finished. We cannot just assume that eliminating one threat gives us immunity from others. We cannot afford to continue to allow the murderous status quo to continue in the Middle East. We have to put increasing political pressure on the Syrians to end their occupation of Lebanon and their support for Hizb’Allah. We have to support the Iranian democracy movement in every way we can. We must also let the House of Saud know that their support of terror is unacceptable.

If we do not do these things, then we will only see a continuation of the status quo. We simply cannot afford such an option. As Ledeen states:

So long as President Bush remains entrapped by the false vision of the "peace process" and plays defense in Iraq, initiative passes to the terror masters. He often speaks as if he understood his peril, but his diplomatic and military policies remain paralyzed by false vision. Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia organize, fund, and support the terror war in Iraq, but instead of supporting freedom fighters in Iran to topple the world’s major sponsor of terror, we plaintively implore the mullahs to hand over some al Qaeda leaders so we can get on with lifting sanctions and “normalizing” relations. Instead of bringing real pressure to bear on the Baathist regime in Syria and the cunning Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, we plead with the tyrannical leaders of those countries to behave better, so we can have better relations.

This is unworthy of a serious country, and the peoples of the region — whose destiny is at stake in this matter. Understand that while we say we’re at war, we’re certainly not waging it at the moment. Unless we escape from the trap, it is only a matter of time before our soldiers and diplomats in Iraq fall prey to the terror masters on a greater scale.

The longer we delay the inevitable reckoning, the more costly it will be. It’s time to get out of the trap and resume the war.

Mr. Ledeen is right – the best defense is a good offense. So long as the terrorist groups and the regimes that sponsor them are playing offense we will not see the kind of progress in Iraq that must be made. However, if we’re willing to take the fight to them, then we gain the upper hand.

Our strategy in this war cannot be one of leaving things undone. It would have been foolish for the Allies to have only liberated France and try to negotiate with Germany in World War II. It is just as foolish to liberate Iraq without working against Islamic Jihad, Hizb’Allah, and the states that support them. Until terrorists have no hiding place in the Middle East and elsewhere, we cannot consider this war won.

4 thoughts on “Taking The War To The Enemy

  1. I’ll be really curious to hear how you intend to fight even more wars without the deployment of additional troops. I think sooner or later, you’re gonna have to wake up to the fact that spilling the blood of all of the world’s dissenters cannot be done with the current level of soldiers, already spread thin with two major military operations. You and your tender-hearted, soft-skinned chickenhawk College Republicans colleagues will have to (God forbid!) practice what you preach, abandon your cushy dorm rooms, frat houses and mama’s home cookin’, and don the garb and armor of a warrior just like the people getting killed over in Iraq. Once you guys do that, your foolish rhetorical bravado will at least be backed up by action. I don’t see it happening until to you get your “Friends and neighbors have selected you” letters, followed by a collective shrill cry of “Mommmmy!” that will be heard from the mailboxes of suburban chickenhawks across the nation.

  2. Ah, the typical logic of the liberal. If you can’t win on substance, just start attacking the person.

    The fact remains that we don’t need another 100,000 troops to do this. What we need are better HUMINT capabilities on the ground in Arab countries. For Iran, we need to sent more covert support to pro-democracy activists, even if it’s just in the form of cash or radio transmitters. For Syria, all we need to do is leverage political pressure on President Assad to start cleaning up. In the case of Egypt, we demand that they end their practice of supporting terrorism or we end their foreign aid payments.

    And for the record, I graduated from college a long time ago…

  3. Personally I’d rather have my military decisions made by people who were actually in wars, not folks whose dads were so rich they got to sit Vietnam out in a cushy military post office… But I guess I’m crazy like that.

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