I wrote this in the summer of 2004, but there is not much I would change today.
World War IV and Partisan Politics
During my US Army service in the ‘60s, we were routinely indoctrinated with training films explaining the big picture of our mission, guerrilla warfare, local customs, the risks of VD, etc. I distinctly remember one which presented the “Domino Theory” very succinctly and graphically with maps of Indochina, etc. I suspect the military still does this, but I fear the current PC climate in our culture may prevent them from doing as good a job as they used to.
A child of the Cold War, well trained to dive under my desk in the event of a nuclear attack, I nevertheless understood that the enemy of America was the ideology of communism, not just the Soviet Union or Khrushchev. That China or Mao did not yet have nuclear tipped missiles aimed at us did not preclude strategic thinking regarding the risks to our national interest if all of Indochina fell to communist dictators.
Were I to design a training film to immunize our troops from the effects of propaganda like Michael Moore’s hokum, it would include the essence of the following:
In today’s ever so politically correct culture, one is thought a cretin for even naming our enemy, which is no less than the ideology of the Islamic Fundamentalist fanatics, principally of the Wahhabi sect, bent on turning the clock back about 1,100 years. Until we recognize and internalize this patently obvious fact, we will never get our act together enough to effectively defend our culture by the only option we have – ruthlessly defeating theirs.
Man can coexist with alligators on this planet only as long as they agree to stay in the swamps and we agree to stay out of them. They have every right to be upset when someone intrudes in their swampland, I would be too; but if their response is to try to spread out and infest every lake, river, and swimming pool, we have a serious problem that cannot be resolved by trying to understand or negotiate with them. Our only rational recourse is to eradicate those found lurking in our neighborhoods before they harm our children. Some might prefer they be captured and incarcerated in a zoo, but let’s face it, we don’t have enough zoos.
It goes without saying that it was a serious error to use satellites to beam alluring videos of our pristine waters to them, thus illuminating the squalor of their existence and the failure of their culture to provide them with all the goodies available in ours. Their anger, resentment, and jealousy are quite understandable; as is their shamans’ chagrin at their youth desiring to emulate us. But if their reaction is to convince their faithful that their miserable existence is somehow our fault, and that it is the hateful will of their “god” for them to immolate while killing as many of us as possible, the wretched clerics should be our first target.
In a rational world, we could simultaneously bomb every Wahhabi masque on the planet on a Friday morning, when their subjugated women are home with the children, and the men all have their asses in the air and lined up in a neat row awaiting a good swift kick into martyrdom. Instead, we grant these shamans protected noncombatant status, and declare their lairs off-limits to our defenders. Be aware, you are not safe in your own house of worship; these barbarians recognize no civilized rules of engagement. This is insanity.
Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. Real war cannot be waged against carpet bombing, naval blockades, infantry assaults, economic sanctions, propaganda, or terrorism; and make no mistake about it, we are in no less than World War IV (the Cold War we waged against Communism was #3). If it is impolitic to call it what it really is: a Hot War against Wahhabism, at least call it WWIV, Freedom vs. Tyranny, Secularism vs. Shamanism, Modernism vs. Obscurantism, even Liberalism vs. Fundamentalism; anything to convey the magnitude of our predicament, and disabuse us of the dangerous notion that we simply need to capture and “bring to justice” a few scruffy malcontents so we can get back to a carefree life.
Nor does it help to try to personify the enemy and demonize one individual. Bin Laden is only one charismatic leader of our enemy, not the enemy; nor is he the only leader, or even the most dangerous. Eliminating him will be only a fleeting victory in one battle of a much larger war. Perhaps you have noticed that having Saddam Hussein behind bars has not deterred Baath Party thugs, and their terroristic foreign allies, from continuing to fight, any more than losing a general would cause us to give up and go home
True, Bin Laden was an inspired and stunningly effective leader, but there are always ambitious subordinates anxious to replace a fallen leader, and to a large extent they already have. In deep hiding and generally incommunicado, he is no longer effective and serves more as an inspirational martyr-in-waiting, than a true leader. Those suggesting we focus on capturing and putting Bin Laden on trial, rather than trying to clean up the swamps, are at best naïve. Retribution is only a trivial component of our motive for engaging in WWIV.
It is a shame, if not yet a tragedy, that we are more focused on winning the next election than saving our civilization. Were it not for partisan politics, those we entrust with our defense could be totally honest with us regarding their true motives for selecting Iraq as the second theater of WWIV. Good and sufficient reasons abound, and dovetail so nicely that a decision not to invade Iraq would have been remiss.
First, don’t discount the WMD issue. Most everyone in the world, including Saddam himself I suspect, thought he had those stockpiles, and that he was just crazy enough to allow terrorists access to them. However vaguely, the dots were there. Had our officials not connected them after 911, or failed to act decisively to preempt such a possibility, we would have justifiably crucified them had they reached our shores.
That is why so many Democrats voted to authorize the war to begin with; they knew it was the prudent thing to do, even if unpopular with their base constituents. Three different august inquiries have recently agreed that no one was “lying” about WMD, so forget that tired canard. The real deception was the inference that this was the only, or even the primary, reason for selecting Iraq as the next theater.
A minor, but not insignificant, motive could be that it was rather a kind thing to do for the oppressed people of Iraq. We have intervened in less compelling causes around the world when our national interest was far more obscure. Saddam was a ruthless tyrant on par with Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, et al. For me, watching the joyous celebrations in the streets of Baghdad on live TV the day his statue was pulled down, erased forever any question as to whether it was the right thing to do. I seem to recall film clips of the French once doing the same thing.
Another minor point is that Saddam was harboring and funding terrorists. Abu Nadal, et al, had safe refuge there. Palestinian suicide bombers families were paid a fortune by Saddam for their children’s immolation. Even though there was an Al Qaeda training camp in Northern Iraq, partisans assert that there was no connection between Saddam and Bin Laden. That is a specious argument; again our enemy is an ideology, not a person or any particular gang that adheres to it. Agreed, plenty of other countries in the region also harbor and support terroristic Islamic fanatics, but we had to start somewhere.
Next, we needed a larger footprint in the swamp. Bin Laden was demanding that the infidels be evicted from the “Holy land,” and the House of Saud was getting wobbly and asking us to abandon Riyadh. Like these Saudi clowns or not, the world needs their oil and we could not afford to let them be toppled. Since the very legitimacy of their Royal kleptocracy rests on Wahhabism, their shamans could oust them in a heartbeat with a few well placed fatwas, and turn off the spigot. If that ever happens, you will see us really go to war over oil and the dinosaurs in the EU and NATO will be clamoring to be allowed to join that “coalition.”
Speaking of oil, while we don’t wish to steal it, ending sanctions and increasing the world supply by cranking up Iraq’s production capability would be a definite plus for the world. Being less dependent on Saudi Arabian oil would be prudent considering the tenuous perch the Saudi Royals have, now that Bin Laden has made it clear that the House of Saud dynasty is his primary target and we are only secondary.
This brings us to the UN. While Iran or Syria might seem to be more logical choices, especially with Bush’s “. . . if you harbor a terrorist…” threat, on the world stage the context for war already existed for Iraq. After the world had driven him out of Kuwait, thereby saving Saudi Arabia, the only reason Saddam was not deposed and completely disarmed was to prevent the Iranian theocracy from conquering Iraq on their way to invading Saudi Arabia. Upon surrender he agreed to dispose of his WMD stockpiles under UN supervision.
He never proved to their satisfaction that he had done so, despite repeated resolutions, sanctions, inspections, and no-fly zones. The only resistance to a final showdown was by the leaders of those countries who had the most to gain financially from perpetuating the thoroughly corrupt UN “Oil for Food” farce. A UN agreement to attack Iran or Syria was a nonstarter, as most of the world sees nothing wrong with terrorism against Israel; unlike their Arab protagonists, they have no oil. We could have “gone it alone,” but the unanimous “one last chance” UN Resolution 1441 gave many countries the political cover to join us.
Next, where do you want the battlefield to be? Back when Bush was being pounded mercilessly in the press for his “Bring them on” crack, I read a fascinating editorial somewhere explaining that our troops presence in Iraq was “carefully hung flypaper” to attract as many terrorists as possible to take on our well trained warriors over there in the heart of the swamp, rather than our civilians and police over here. Brilliant; and again for PC reasons, they are not revealing that for every one of our heroes that falls, literally hundreds of fresh martyrs go to claim their virgins. Until now, our volunteers have not complained at all about being the bait, as long as they get to be the martyr-makers.
Unless we are willing to put a big fence around the swamp, and never go back in even to buy oil, we can no longer ignore the conditions there (unlike the history of imperialists like France, America does not take resources from others – all we desire is to continue to be able to purchase them). Until young Arabs find a reason to live here on Earth that trumps the allure of an orgy of virgins in their dreamland, their shamans will continue to win the battle for their hearts and minds; and we, rather than their own corrupt rulers, will continue to be blamed for their fetid waters. There appears to be little choice but to help them clean up their swamp.
Thus was born the new “Domino Theory.” If a secular government, representative of a free people, could be established in Arabia, the theory goes, citizens of neighboring countries would demand their own free society and these failing Arab dictatorships, monarchies, and theocracies would fall one by one. Take a look at a map of Arabia. Why start at one end and wait for each domino to fall in turn, when a secular country with a universally hated brutal dictator, brimming with intelligent and well educated people yearning to be free, is right in the center and time is of the essence?
The proper choice was unmistakable; the next theater: Iraq. It is an ambitious plan and no mean task. The ultimate success is far from assured, it will take years to play out, but the assertion by the partisans that this endeavor was an impossible or foolhardy mission, undertaken capriciously, without adequate forethought and planning, and doomed to failure, is just plain nonsense. While most of the media carefully slant their coverage to promote these allegations, while breathlessly trumpeting each and every minor skirmish as categorical evidence of a “quagmire” or “lack of planning,” and/or the incompetence of the planners, truth must be sought elsewhere.
History is on the side of the visionaries, not the naysayers. We have handily accomplished this before. When measured against the timeline of our denazification of Germany and the implementation of the profoundly successful Marshal Plan, or MacArthur’s tedious but remarkably effective reconstruction and democratization of Japan, our progress in Iraq could easily be considered spectacular. They said it couldn’t be done then too, but it was the other Party saying it. What would happen if everyone were to evaluate ideas based on reality, the merits, and the big picture, rather than the effect they might have on the next election? ◄Dave►