politics, history and the war on terror
Monday, May 24, 2004
The War on Terror: Making the Strategy Work 

In the years immediately following the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression, many Americans became interested in new forms of government. Some joined the Communist Party, which seemed to have a fair and even-handed concept to sharing wealth and power. Others joined the American Bund, which they thought showed worthy example in Hitler’s Nazi Party. One of the most famous Americans of the day, Charles Lindbergh, flatly announced “Our civilization depends on a western wall of race and arms which can hold back…the infiltration of inferior blood”. (Readers Digest interview, 1939). By today’s standards, such approval of violent and oppressive regimes seems foolish indeed. But we, of course, enjoy the benefit of examining the time through the lessons of History. We have come to expect a level of ethics and morality from our government, all the while assuming we will be protected from those who hate our very existence. Yet the War on Terror warns of both a dire threat, and the need to face our challenges realistically. The assumption that Terrorism was a menace only to Europe, Africa, or Asia, was abruptly shattered on September 11, 2001. The War on Terror can be won, but we must begin by identifying our enemy, discovering how they operate, and planning our course to destroy Terrorism as a course of policy.

Terrorism has been around, in one form or another, for many centuries. Alexander the Great is said to have hurled the carcasses of plague-ridden animals into cities he laid siege against, to break their spirit. The Romans crucified their political prisoners, in order to intimidate would-be rebels. The Hashashin of Syria murdered rulers by contract. The followers of Muhammed killed prisoners who did not convert to their religion. The Church of Rome burned heretics at the stake. During the Dark Ages, bands of cutthroats roamed Europe, destroying villages unless they were bought off, as the Vikings did in the Northern countries. The Samurai of Japan killed anyone seen as a threat to the Emperor or various warlords. Muslims and Christians killed each other, Catholics and Protestants killed each other, Monarchists and Republicans killed each other. For the better part of 2500 years, there have always been groups willing to commit crimes for the right price of cause.

So, who are we fighting in Iraq, and what does it mean for the War on Terror overall? To read the papers or watch the TV news, one might conclude that the Iraqi people have risen up against the American occupation. However, that is not the case. An ABC poll, taken a year after the war began, states “More Iraqis say the United States was right than say it was wrong to lead the invasion”, and 78% of all Iraqis find violence against US forces unacceptable . Given the conditions in Iraq right now, this is a very important indicator. More, the attacks on Coalition forces are ordered and directed by foreign groups, as Moqtada Al-Sadr’s Iran connections demonstrate, as well as the fact that many of the men captured have been non-Iraqis . The US State Department identified 29 major groups as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTOs) in April 2001, of which thirteen are Muslim and operate in the Middle East, with another three major Muslim Terrorist organizations operating in Europe and India. Islamic Terror (IT) groups then, are the largest demographic of International Terrorism, and IT groups are currently the only groups known to operate on continents separate from their base of operations. Most of the groups operating in Iraq today are not even Iraqi, but use Iraqis to shield their operations and motives. Typical is the rise to prominence of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose Lashkar-e-Jhangwi group out of Afghanistan does not even accept Iraqis as members , but whose brutality and ruthless ambition have made him a major player in the terrorist jihad against America.

How do terrorists operate? It’s worth noting that terrorists need six critical elements to exist; and one of them is so critical, it can assist in creating the other six, and without it, the group ceases to exist. These elements are Money, Information, Supplies, Support, Access, and Protection. Money is the most significant of these, and can greatly help acquire the other elements. Information is an obvious need; without it, the terrorist cannot know how to target his plan. Using the 9/11 attacks as a template, bin Laden’s men photographed and researched the WTC for months before the attack, as well as commercial airline security procedures, which provided them with the tactic of using box cutters, which were not foreseen as a weapon for hijackers. Supplies are just that; people don’t often consider that explosives, poisons, forged documents and such are not simply bought at the nearest retail store. Support is also important. When the Irish Republican Army assassinated Louis Mountbatten in the late 1970s, they discovered they had made a grave error; they went from being seen as a brave band of outnumbered patriots, to a ruthless bunch or murderers, and their support among many people simply evaporated. Access is also a prime ingredient; if you cannot reach your target, you cannot hurt it, which is one reason so many terrorist groups seek to kill many innocents - they cannot reach the targets who would truly satisfy their desires. And of course, terrorists need protection; like the pirates of centuries past, they are outcasts from every nation ruled under democratic law. Understanding these elements of terrorist operation are vital, in order to learn how to respond to them.

The first mission for the War On Terror is to interdict the money. With it, terrorists have bought information, supplies, influenced support, bribed their way to access, and purchased protection. And without it, a large part of any terrorist organization loses its motive. A telling example is Palestinian terrorist and political figurehead, Yassir Arafat. In 1973, Arafat planned and directed the kidnapping of the senior membership of the OPEC cartel. He did this to provide for the financial freedom for his Al-Fatah group. The mission also made Arafat a millionaire himself, as he established the practice of giving himself a commission from the proceeds. The United States has understood for many years, that for every terrorist willing to die for the cause, there are at least four others who are in it for personal benefit. That is why, when the Iran Government seized the hostages at the US Embassy, President Carter ordered the immediate freeze of all Iranian assets in the US. Sources in Carter’s circle later revealed that a prime reason the hostages were released, was to get access back to their money . That is why Reagan froze Libyan accounts and assets, and blocked Libyan oil transport in 1982. And that is why President Clinton froze suspected all Qaeda assets in 1998 and the Taliban’s assets in 1999. President Bush followed that pattern, but understands that the tactic, while worthwhile, has only limited effectiveness.

Part of that is why bin Laden rose in the terrorist world. The bin Laden family is well known through the Arab world, largely as an engineering concern, to Arabs what Halliburton or Bechtel is to the West. Osama spent a number of years as a civil engineer, and originally served the Taliban after the Soviet exit, by building roads and government buildings. Osama’s estimated net worth is usually guessed at, by taking the bin Laden family net earnings and dividing by a fraction. But while Osama has resources, they are not so liquid as one might think; most of bin Laden’s purported wealth is tied up in materials and property, not the sort of thing he can easily use to promote terrorism. Which is where Saddam Hussein comes into the picture. Saddam is a known sponsor or terrorism. He not only gave shelter to such notorious men as Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, but also created and maintained a number of camps to train terrorists , including the infamous Salmon Pak site. The United Nations Security Council specifically linked Saddam Hussein to terrorism in UNSCR 687. Or, to put it bluntly, if you’re worried about a man worth some $300 million, but who can’t spend most of it, you should worry about a man with access to over $2 billion in liquid funds, with a character and history for terrorist support.

The next mission is decapitation. In the light of Nick Berg’s murder, that term may seem ill-chosen, but it describes a historic and effective policy. During the Kennedy Administration, there were many plans and attempts to kill Castro , and the CIA has been accused of numerous assassinations of inconvenient opponents. The futility of killing leaders is apparent, from the continued violence and hostility in the regions where this has happened. However, decapitation can also mean the capture of a key leader. When Saddam Hussein was captured on December 13, it began a two-week period with no new attacks, because the terrorist had to regroup. When bin Laden is captured or killed, a similar pause should occur, which may allow an opportunity for US forces to exploit that advantage. Just as Americans respond to good and bad news, so also do terrorists.

The third mission, both the most difficult and most effective, is turning the terrorists into outcasts. The good news here, is the support not so much of Americans for what we are doing, but the Iraqis themselves. While most Iraqis are looking forward to Coalition forces leaving, most do not want the US to leave anytime in the near future, and most Iraqis say the war has left them with better hopes and opportunities . Iraq has become a land of three tribes: The Coalition forces, the Terrorists, and the Iraqi people. When the Coalition has defeated the terrorists, the Iraqi people will take up their new government and prosper.

Who says this, some hack for President Bush? Actually, none other than that same “Sheikh” al-Zarqawi . Back in February, Coalition officials discovered a letter believed to have been written by the de facto leader of the Terrorists in Iraq. The letter was doubted at first, but since al-Zarqawi’s actions have fit those he predicted in his letter, it is now reasonable to review his words. And Zarqawi fears the Iraqi people. Speaking of cooperation between American and Iraqi forces, he wrote, “With the spread of the army and police, our future is becoming frightening.” Zarqawi writes about the need to strike the Iraqi police “with force in the near future, before their power strengthens.” Does this like a man who is happy with his likely future? It sounds a lot more like a man who knows the US is winning. Or, let Zarqawi say it in his own words:

"Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases. By god, this is suffocation!"

Want more evidence? Interrogation of Osama’s top planner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, revealed that Al Qaeda planned a lot more attacks to follow up 9/11 , but they were thwarted by Bush’s unexpected response; Bush was more decisive and careful than they expected. That quality has continued. There have been no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11, a fact often kept quiet for fear of jinxing things, but it deserves to be noted. It’s not as if the terrorists stopped trying, or we just got lucky. A lot of intelligence and military people busted their butts to stop a lot of plots, and Bush was smart enough to see that taking the fight to the Terrorists’ backyard would keep them occupied over there. For all the grim scenes of American servicemen coming back in coffins, it’s right to realize that these men died to make sure those coffins didn’t have to carry housewives and children.

It’s also worth noting how the terrorists are working together. This is exactly what we want, actually, because in their cooperation to fight us, they have given up the anonymity and isolation which protected them in the past. As each is killed or captured, some desert, some simply flee in the chaos, and some are left to ponder why it is, that the average Arab, when called to arms to raise Jihad against America, prefers to take care of his family, and hope for peace through American force. No one likes violence in their own town, but an increasing number of Iraqis are cooperating with Americans; there is now a functional Iraqi police force in every major city, and in Najaf crowds have held multiple protests calling for the Terrorists to leave . The fact is, this is no insurrection at all, but the attempted hijacking of the Iraqi Democratic republic. Fortunately, the Iraqi people are beginning to realize this is their country we’re talking about, and they are beginning to take charge. June 30 is looking more and more, like it will be just the right date for the handover.

So, it’s not that simple, is it? Of course not. The one thing liberals have right about the “Iraq is Vietnam” claim, is that we can always lose if we are weak or cowardly enough to desert the Iraqi people. That’s one reason this election is so important. A John Kerry presidency would mean we’d leave the Iraqi people to the mercies of the sort of men who cut the heads off unarmed civilians, provided they are tied up and outnumbered five-to-one. A George Bush re-election will show the assumptions about us were wrong, that we are in this for the long haul, to keep our promise to Iraq, to the American people, and to the world. The liberals worried about wars in Syria and Iran, but they don’t understand, that victory in Iraq is enough; once one Arab nation finds out about Liberty through its own experience, it will catch on. Not every nation will follow suit, sure, but enough that it will counter the tide against the killing of innocents for jihad, and a greater Arab world will emerge.

Some say the Jihadists want the world to return to the 12th Century. Actually, in a way that’s me. In that day, most of the Arab world knew nothing of war. They had the most advanced medical studies of any culture, excelling also in cuisine, architecture, literature, poetry, and music. That Arab world would be appalled at the notion of killing someone simply for being foreign, or for calling on Allah to bless the murder of children. The Arabs of the 12th Century, who competed with the world to excel in goodness, to build, heal, and teach, can return and deserve to be among us again. And the US has planted the seeds for the return of the Great Arab in Iraq.

Insh’Allah.

Posted by DJ Drummond @ 10:54 AM

|