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Looking up the skirts of the war on terror

(This is the second piece I've written that takes the ant's perspective on a huge issue. It's done to show just what one person with no formal training or schooling in matters and no deep, inside sources can do with access to just readily available information, and what conclusions can be extrapolated thereof. And it's a REALLY long read - Ill stick most of it in the Extended section.)

(Author's note: the following is simply one person's observations and speculations on current events. I have never served in the military, never served in government, and have no access to "inside information." I'm simply one guy with way too much time on my hands to read, watch, and think.)

I once read a book of odd trivia and quirks of American history. The one fact that stuck out in my mind was a comment that one of the most subtle, yet most profound, changes wrought by the American Civil War was grammatical. Prior to the war, our nation was plural. "The United States are" was the common usage. In the aftermath of the war, though, the plural became collective. "The United States is" is said thousands of times every day, without a second thought. The experience of the war solidified Americans from a collection of semi-independent states into a single, unified nation.

A similar thing happened to us on September 11, 2001. At that point, President Bush had three tremendous insights - insights on the magnitude of Alexander and the Gordian Knot. Insights so profound, so meaningful, yet so simple, that no "genius" or "intellectual" could have hoped to grasp them.

The first was that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were not crimes, but acts of war. This instantly inverted the model we had used for decades in dealing with terrorism. We were setting aside the police and the courts and putting the military to work in facing the threat. The civil authorities would still play a role, but for once the armed forces would be taking point in the struggle. No longer would we be running to the United Nations in hopes of getting other nations to turn over those most directly responsible for terrorism - we would be going after them directly, and were not interested in talking with those giving them aid and comfort.

The second insight derives from the first; not only were we at war, but we had been for decades and not realized it. The first battle of that war took place in Tehran in 1979, and we lost. Another major battle was fought in 1983 in Beirut, and we lost there too. We lost other battles in Somalia, Yemen, New York, Kenya, Tanzania, and other places as well. And now, we had lost the biggest battle to date.

The third insight was possibly the most profound. We were in a war without a clearly defined nation or alliance of nations as the enemy. The enemy was Islamism, that militant branch of Islam that sees the world as divided in two: "Dar Al-Islam" (House of Islam), where Islam rules, and "Dar Al-Harb" (House of War), where Islam will eventually rule. The biggest obstacle to bringing about worldwide Islam is the West, and most importantly the United States.

The US absolutely infuriates Islamists. We continually flaunt our un-Islamness, our openness, our irreverence, our decadence, our corruption, our wealth, our apostasy before the world. And what's worse, we are SUCCESSFUL. We constantly abuse the laws they believe God has handed down, and for some reason we continue to prosper while they continue to suffer. We represent everything that is evil and corrupt and wrong in the world, and cheerfully suffer no consequences for our wrongdoing.

President Bush immediately started fighting the war that we had been losing for over 20 years. He immediately identified the forces behind the 9/11 attacks as Al-Qaeda and traced them to Afghanistan. He then demanded the Taliban (the Islamists then ruling Afghanistan) surrender all Al-Qaeda members to the US or face the severest consequences.

The Taliban apparently didn't get the memo that "cops and robbers" was over, and we were now playing "cowboys and Indians." They immediately "lawyered up" and demanded to be given incontrovertible evidence of Al-Qaedas guilt, insisted that they be tried in Afghan courts under Islamic rules, and in general tried to stall and evade the issue.

It worked briefly, but not for long. After one last ultimatum, Bush didn't go to the United Nations. He didn't go to the International Court. He didn't send in the lawyers and the diplomats. He sent in the United States Armed Forces, and quickly and efficiently disassembled the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in record time.

After Afghanistan, most of the world heaved a sigh of relief. The Americans had struck back, and had avenged the attacks of 9/11. Now things could go back to normal.

But nobody bothered to tell President Bush that the war was won. He looked around, and saw more enemies who were just biding their time. He saw Iran, the birthplace of the war, continuing its hostilities while frantically racing to build nuclear weapons. He saw Syria, giving aid and comfort and homes to terrorists while continuing its occupation of Lebanon. He saw Saudi Arabia, terrified of the viper of Islamism it had sprung and desperately trying to buy them off and persuade them to leave and cause trouble elsewhere. He saw Libya quietly resuming its support of terrorists and working to get international sanctions lifted. He saw Sudan continuing the slaughter end enslavement of blacks.

And sitting right in the middle of it all was Iraq. Iraq, who had previously invaded two of its neighbors. Who had used weapons of mass destruction both against its enemies and its own people. Who had repeatedly violated the terms of its surrender from the first Gulf War. Who was abusing and exploiting the "Oil for Food" program to bribe governments and officials and influential individuals to gain their protection. Who had attempted the assassination of a former US president in revenge for actions he had taken while acting as president.

Bush began by going to the United Nations, looking for them to back up their previous positions. But Saddam Hussein had done his homework. He had lined up France, Russia, and Germany to oppose further United Nations sanctions. After all, Russia (as the Soviet Union) had sold Hussein 57% of all the weapons it imported from 1973 to 1990. France was its number 2 supplier (15%), as well as having sold them its Osirak nuclear reactor. Also, France and Russia had been among the largest recipients of "Oil for Food" graft.

France, long resenting the prominence of the United States, saw this as an opportunity to diminish our prestige and assert some of its own. It sent emissaries to many of its former colonies in Africa and lobbied hard for them to oppose us. It also announced that it would use its veto in the Security Council to prevent any further resolutions against Iraq.

You gotta respect France in one sense. Theres an old joke that an honest politician is one who, "once he's bought, stays bought." Saddam got full value for his dinars.

Once it was unavoidably obvious that the United Nations would not be backing further resolutions against Iraq, regardless of whatever the US put forth supporting it, Bush decided to play France's own game. He announced that we were already armed with over a dozen resolutions justifying the use of force against Iraq, and the US would use its own veto to prevent their repeal. He issued one final ultimatum to Saddam, rounded up over two dozen other nations as allies, and when Saddam defied that last chance, struck.

Now, the world could forgive our invasion of Afghanistan. After all, it was done in the heat of passion, and there was a certain justification for it. Links connecting Afghanistan and 9/11 were abundantly clear. But Iraq Iraq was something else. After all, the UN had refused to endorse further action. Many other countries, including France, Russia, and Germany, had opposed it. And Saddam had always had a reputation as someone you could do business with. But President Bush had ignored all that and invaded anyway, and Saddam was no longer available for business.

The taking of Iraq was easy. The holding, however, proved problematic. Anti-Americans swarmed to Iraq, eager to confront "the Great Satan." Foreign combatants crossed freely from Iran, from Syria, from Jordan. The war was over, but it wasn't peace, either.

This had been expected. Not exactly planned for in stunning detail with gold-plated guarantees of triumph, but expected. Observers called it the "flypaper effect," and pointed out that people attempting to kill armed, trained American service members in Iraq were not attempting to kill unarmed, untrained Americans at home. Nor were they working on other plans to kill huge numbers of Americans.

And now that Iraq is slowly stabilizing, Bush is looking around again. Libya has had a "come-to-Jesus" revelation and renounced its nuclear program (turning over the whole kit and kaboodle to the US) and started ratting out its former terrorist clients. Pakistan was at best a wobbly ally when we first went into Afghanistan; after a few Islamist assassination attempts against their president, they've firmed up nicely. We've established stronger ties with a few former Soviet Republics. And Saudi Arabia has actually held a few crackdowns on its own Islamist elements, instead of simply paying them and sending them abroad to cause their problems to other people.

But that leaves Iran, which has repeatedly made and broken pledges regarding its nuclear program and repeatedly vowed to "destroy" Israel and the United States (also known as "the Zionist Entity" and "the Great Satan" respectively). But while Iran deals with its own dissidents and growing public dissatisfaction with the reign of the mullahs, it also has to be looking around itself and starting to sweat. To the east lies former ally Afghanistan, now firmly occupied by US forces. Going clockwise, next is Pakistan - now a staunch US ally in the war against terrorism. To the south lies the Persian Gulf, where the United States Navy holds unquestioned sway. To the west is Iraq, former great enemy of the United States, now also occupied by US forces. Moving towards the north, there is Turkey, the sole Moslem democracy and (until recently) a long-time US ally and friend (although things are warming again). To the north, Russia and several former Soviet republics, now independent states that have signed formal alliances with the United States. Iran's mullahs find themselves subjected to tremendous pressures from without and within, and must carefully balance them or be crushed like so many eggshells.

And that's where things stand today. No, Afghanistan and Iraq weren't stupendous successes, but neither were they crushing defeats. They aren't yet proven to be quagmires, and the reports give at least some grounds for optimism. The nations that have supported Islamism are finding themselves fewer and further between than before, and the pressures from without and within are making the status quo more and more untenable. We're not winning all the battles, but we're not losing them all, either. It is indisputable, though, that we are winning the war. The greatest proof of this is the fact that not a single terrorist attack has taken place on American soil since 9/11.

Just because we're winning the war doesn't mean it's a foregone conclusion. President Bush predicted that this war could easily last a decade. The longest war America has ever won lasted seven years, and that was our Revolution. I don't know if we still have the resolve to fight that long and still win.

I think we do. One of the key elements is that this isn't a war against another nation, but a war about our way of life. One of the main reasons our enemies have targeted us is because they see us as fat, rich, lazy, decadent, corrupt, and hedonistic. And I can't think of a more powerful motivation for the Americans to continue fighting is to preserve our fat, rich, lazy, decadent, corrupt, and hedonistic lifestyle. The Islamists will get my pepperoni pizza and porn from me when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

J.


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Comments (5)

Best. Summary. Ever.... (Below threshold)

Best. Summary. Ever.

What Joel said. And you're... (Below threshold)

What Joel said. And you're probably the biggest reason I make Wizbang one of my first and most frequent visits, because you're just ths good.

However, could you do me a favor? Every time you have the urge to type "it's" stop and say what you are typing as "it is" and change it to its if that doesn't fit. For me it's like listening to a vinyl album that has a large scratch periodically, seeing it's that should be its. Fussy, I know. Everyone does it, I know. But still.

ths = this, of course.... (Below threshold)

ths = this, of course.

Aw, crap, Jay. I consider m... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Aw, crap, Jay. I consider myself a bit of an expert on spelling and grammar, but that's probably my biggest weakness. My problem is that my knowledge is all instinctive, from years and years of reading. 99.9% of the time I just "know" the right spelling and form, but couldn't explain why.
In this case, I think of "its" as plural, while "it's" is both contraction of "it is" and possessive, so I naturally put in the apostrophe. I'm going back and fixing that right now.

J.

(And what's a spelling/grammar flame without a typo of it's own? That just adds that certain touch of versimilitude, Jay...)

As stated above, this is a ... (Below threshold)

As stated above, this is a great summary. Obviously Iran is next, one way or another. BTW, got here via wizbang->samablog->carnival of capitalists->instapundit. Bookmarked now.

If you found this interesting (I did), you can check out my "kids on a playground" approach to this same thing via the link in my name below.




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