Recently, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington. In his remarks, he listed the most common myths about the war on terror. Unfortunately, they don’t go far enough in identifying the crux of the problem facing us in our struggle against Islamo-fascism.
Vice President Cheney names and refutes 4 myths. But there are several other myths that exist and by not identifying them and countering them we run the real risk of losing the struggle between a 13th century culture of the Islamists and the 21st century civilization of today.
First, Cheney’s myths.
Myth #1: Iraq has nothing to do with the global war on terror.
Opponents of our military action there have called Iraq a diversion from the real conflict, a distraction from the business of fighting and defeating (Osama) bin Laden and the Al Qaida network. We hear this over and over again, not as an argument but as an assertion meant to close off argument.
Yet the critics conveniently disregard the words of bin Laden himself. The most serious issue today for the whole world, he has said, is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq. He called it a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam. He said the whole world is watching this war and that it will end in victory and glory or misery and humiliation. And in words directed at the American people, bin Laden declares, quote, “The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever.”
Cheney is correct. The enemy defines what and where a struggle will take place, not you. And Al Qaida has made that very clear a many occasions in their public proclamations.
Myth #2: We can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements needed to carry out their mission.
When members of Congress pursue an antiwar strategy that’s been called “Slow-Bleed,” they’re not supporting the troops; they are undermining them. And when members of Congress speak not of victory but of time limits…deadlines or other arbitrary measures, they’re telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out.
Cheney is half right here. You can only win a war when it’s fought in the entire theater of Operation. We couldn’t win the Vietnam War because of political reasons, and we’re not going to win the war in Iraq
for the very same reason.
A theater of war can not be contained within artificial boundaries on a map. The enemy needs to be pursued and defeated with in the entire theater of war. In Vietnam we could not invade North Vietnam which was supporting the war effort in the south without having China enter war.
This defeatist strategy also was employed in the Korean War. When General MacArthur asked to bomb the bridges between China and North Korea to prevent China from sending troops into the peninsula to support the defeated North Koreans, he was told he could only bomb the Korean side of the bridge. The befuddled MacArthur replied, “In all my time as a combat officer, I’ve never knew how to bomb only half a bridge!”
Ii the first Gulf War, the military were given free reign to fight within the theater or war. To eject the Iraqis from Kuwait, the military invaded parts of Iraq - and succeeded in meeting the military objective.
When the military’s hands are tied and the enemy has a safe haven to plan the strategists and deploy their forces, that’s a recipe for defeat. And that’s what we are facing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamist jihadists operate from safe haven in Pakistan and Iran and as long as they are not pursued into those parts of the theater of war, the outlook for success in Iraq and Afghanistan is bleak. The Islamists know that our inability to pursue them will lead to the wearing down of the multinational forces that will eventually lead to withdrawal and defeat.
You want to win a war? Keep the politics out of it and realize that there is nothing “correct” about war. The point is to win as fast as possible to end the misery of all concerned. Worry about winning the “hearts and minds” of those who have a heart and a mind AFTER you defeat those who have neither.
Myth #3: Leaving Iraq before the job is done will actually strengthen America’s hand in the fight against terrorists.
This myth is dangerous because it represents a full validation of the Al Qaida strategy. The terrorists don’t expect to beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. They’re not likely to try. The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission, and the terrorists do believe that they can force that outcome. Time after time, they have predicted that the American people do not have the stomach for a long-term fight. They cite the cases of Beirut in the 1980s and Somalia in the ‘90s. These examples, they believe, show that we are weak and decadent, and that if we’re hit hard enough, we’ll pack it in and retreat.
The result would even greater danger to the United States, because if the terrorists conclude that attacks will change the behavior of a nation, they will attack that nation again and again.
Cheney is right on here.
Myth #4: The false hope that we can abandon the effort in Iraq without serious consequences to the broader Middle East.
It’s not hard to imagine what could occur if our coalition withdrew before Iraqis could defend themselves. Moderates would be crushed. Shi’ite extremists, backed by Iran, could be in an all-out war with Sunni extremists, led by Al Qaida and remnants of the old Saddam (Hussein) regime. As this battle unfolded, Sunni governments might feel compelled to back Sunni extremists in order to counter growing Iranian influence, widening the conflict into a regional war. If Sunni extremists prevailed, Al Qaida and its allies would recreate the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan, except now with the oil wealth to pursue weapons of mass destruction and underwrite their terrorist designs, including their pledge to destroy Israel. If Iran’s allies prevailed, the regime in Tehran’s own designs for the Middle East would be advanced and the threat to our friends in the region would only be magnified.
I agree 100%.
But Cheney is amiss in his myths and thus the reason why both proponents and opponents of the ‘war on terror’ believe the struggle will go on almost in definitely or is unwinnable in its present state. These myths, if not confronted, will lead to our defeat against the Islamists and their global agenda.
Here they are.
Myth #5: The War is a Criminal Matter.
This is the myth held by the Left. The terrorist are a band of international criminals and should be brought to justice. And that they have rights. The military operations should be used sparingly or not at all or America’s reputation ye world will continue to plummet at the same time making potential allies withdraw their assistance. An article in Newsweek makes this position very clear.
The next American president will be well advised to replace the “war on terror” with the kind of coordinated effort that the fight always should have entailed. In other words, the hunt for the culprits of 9/11 was never simply a war or a criminal manhunt. It was always both, a hybrid covert-war-and-criminal roundup—one in which clear legal rules should have been set to brand terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as outlaws in the international system. The Geneva Conventions should have been applied; suspects should have had lawyers; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment should have been expressly prohibited.
But without knowing it, the article states what really has to be done.
Only if the next president sets the rules more clearly and does a better job of discriminating who the enemy is can we have any hope of winning.
Ah, yes, identifying the actual enemy. But it won’t be the Left who does it.
But now, by letting Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others remain in legal limbo and gradually expanding his definition of the war on terror to include all Islamic “extremists”—among them Hezbollah and Hamas—President Bush may have condemned us to a permanent war. A war in which we are, again, waging an uncomfortably lonely fight, since almost no other country agrees on such a broadly defined enemy.
The article is right about that. Our ‘allies’ are very reluctant to identify these extremist organizations or even the nation states that support them. Appeasement is the rule of the day and nothing short of full scale military attacks on their territory will brings our allies into the real war – the war against Islamism.
Myth #6: The Poverty Myth
There is no robust evidence that there is a link between poverty and terrorism. Jihad Watch writes:
Over the years we have posted many studies that show that jihadists are generally better educated and wealthier than their peers. I expect that at least some of them have come to the attention of officials in Washington, but the assumption among law enforcement and government officials that money will solve the problem of terrorism remains deeply entrenched. Anyway, here is more evidence. "The poverty/terror myth: There may be an economic dimension to terrorism -- but it's not what you think, says Fortune's Cait Murphy," by Cait Murphy in Fortune:
Of the 50 poorest countries in the world only Afghanistan (and perhaps Bangladesh and Yemen) has much experience in terrorism, global or domestic. …..Aren't the people who commit terrorist acts poor, even if they are from countries that are not? No. Remember, most of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were middle-class sons of Saudi Arabia and many were well-educated. And Osama bin Laden himself is from one of the richest families in the Middle East.
But it goes deeper than that. In a 2003 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova reported the results of a post-9/11 survey of Palestinians. Asked whether there were "any circumstances under which you would justify the use of terrorism to achieve political goals," the higher-status respondents (merchant, farmer or professional) were more likely to agree (43.3 percent) than those lower down the ladder (laborer, craftsman or employee) (34.6 percent). The higher-status respondents were also more likely to support armed attacks against Israeli targets (86.7 percent to 80.8 percent). The same dynamic existed when education was taken into account.
A comprehensive study of 1,776 terrorist incidents (240 international, the rest domestic) by Harvard professor Albert Abadie, who was sympathetic to the poverty-terrorism idea at first, found no such thing. "When you look at the data," he told the Harvard Gazette, "it's not there."
What drives the militant jihadist is politics – not economics.
Myth #7: You Can’t Fight Billion Muslims
You don’t have to. But what you must do is help non-jihadist Muslims (and that includes the non-violent forms of Jihad) defend themselves against the Islamists and their attempts at imposing their ideology on one time moderate Islamic nations.
Surely the success of Indonesia and Malaysia where Muslims enjoy a high standard of living would temper any attempts at Islamist infiltration? Wrong again.
As Reuters reported on back in October, just 10 percent of Indonesian Muslims said they backed jihad and supported bomb attacks on the island of Bali aimed at foreign tourists. But Indonesia is home to more than 200 million Muslims, so while 10 percent may sound like a small number percentage-wise, it is actually quite large in absolute terms. It means there are some 20 million Muslims in Indonesia alone who are willing to say out loud that they support the use of violence and terror against innocent human beings.
So what do the numbers tell us? That terrorism is the only jihad that the Islamists use to advance their agenda of Islamatizing the world?
The figures above, taken from a variety of nations, continents and contexts, all point in one very ominous direction. They demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the global jihadist movement enjoys a wide and broad base of support that extends far beyond just a minuscule number of supporters. And that far beyond includes the many different types of jihads used by the Islamists – media, litigation, financial, economic, demographic and cultural jihads.
If we are to defeat the Islamist ideology then we need to see that up to now moderate Muslims can be turned and we need to help those who oppose the radical elements in their midst.
Myth #8: If Israel Makes Peace, the Terrorists Will Have No Issue to Rally Around
Those who believe this myth (mostly appeasers and apologists for Islamism) are the most delusional of all. Al Qaeda has make it very clear that though they want to see Israel destroyed, they’ve made it clear that they want America destroyed too.
Eliminating Israel, imposing a peace on Israel that strips her of its defenses will only embolden the terrorist and prove that their tactics will bring them victory.
Myth #8: The Terrorists are Frustrated with the Free World
This is another cherished belief of the appeasers and apologists for Islamism. They say we have ‘understand’ the terrorists and that we are responsible for their anger towards us. There is something wrong with us – not them.
In the words of one of the great appeasers – George Clooney- "They are, in a way, the most sympathetic, but I think that's important. Because if you are going to fight a war on terror, which is not a state that you can go and bomb, then you need to understand what it is that creates the people that would do such horrible things, rather then just saying- labeling them as evildoers."
They are frustrated with the policies and plans of the West, but in reality, we are frustrating theirs – and they don’t like it.
Myth #9: The War on Terror is Threatening Our Civil Freedoms
According to the misguided apologists and appeasers, it’s not the terrorists who want to rob us of our freedoms but the US government itself.
We are told that we are fighting a war against terrorists who "hate our freedom" and seek to "undermine our very way of life." If America succumbs to full-blown tyranny it will not be because of crazed, diabolical "Islamo-Fascists." It will be because the American people willingly relinquished their freedom in the name of security.
To those that believe such tripe I say, “I have a camel to sell you – cheap.”
Then there’s the political side. Former Vice President Al Gore accuses the Bush administration on many an ocassion of using the war on terrorism "to consolidate its power and escape any accountability for its use."
Perhaps this myth is just a ruse to regain political power after all.
Myth #10: It’s a War on Terror
Finally, the most delusional myth of all – we are fighting a war on terror. Even president Bush, in his most lucid moments admits, “We actually misnamed the war on terror, it ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world.”
And how should this ideology, this ‘ism’, this ideology of Islamism be fought? Walid Phares has the answer.
A sound Homeland Security must begin by educating the public as to the nature of the enemy, its ideology, its strategies and tactics. This is how you should prepare the nation to face future Jihadism, not by avoiding a national debate on the real issue under the pretext that Jihadism is some sort of theological matter. Precisely, the enemy wants you to believe that Jihadism (the enemy's profound nature) is just a matter of academic and theological debate. It would be the equivalent of having the propagandists of the IIIrd Reich convincing the Allies, that Nazism is a cultural issue. The West cannot avoid future Jihad unless it rises to a level of an advanced understanding of the enemy's ideology and tactics. And unless that new well-prepared international society equips itself with all the necessary tools, including education and outreach to fellow resisters in the East, the clash with future Jihadists is unavoidable and will last longer.
And those tactics, or multiple coordinated jihads, I have written about time and time before.
- Cultural jihad
- Economic jihad
- Demographic jihad
- Litigation jihad
- Institutional jihad
- Financial jihad
- Media jihad.
- Thugery jihad
- Criminal jihad
All of which has the objective of imposing, one way or another, Shariah law on a society.
If we are to win this war against Islamism wherever an whenever it’s found, we need to confront and dispel these myths or we will find ourselves under the heel of the boot of the Islamists.
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