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A "Global War?"

from a Wizbang Classic commentary by DJ Drummond:

For better or worse, President George W. Bush has engaged the United States in a war to address the strategic threat from Islamist Middle-East-based terrorism. The consensus from all the studies and publicly available intelligence of the past thirty years, is that Islamist Terrorism is essentially a loose network of groups with a common general goal or driving the United States out of the Middle East, after which a union of Islamic Republics will be established. Some of these groups are backed by governmental organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Others are nominally independent, such as Al Qaeda. The essential point to understand here, is that these groups cooperate to varying degrees for the common purpose of asymmetrical warfare, especially designed to pursue propaganda and financial goals, to weaken alliances between the West and where possible break them, and to destabilize any and all Western-style governments in the Middle East.

To call terrorism a "global threat" is like saying there's a "global threat" of crime that requires some sort of military response. I still believe that most terrorism is a matter for POLICE response, not military. The first attack on the World Trade Center was solved by police work and the perps are in jail and no longer a threat to anyone. OTOH, the author of the second WTC attack is still on the loose and no doubt still plotting dirty deeds.

Admittedly, having a puppet government in Kabul helped Osama out and we were justified to replace them with people who had some respect for international law and order.

But what about Iraq. Terrorism was one of the many excuses that Bush has used to justify his invasion of that nation, but the result has been that it's gone from a place with almost no terrorist activity to being the site of the vast majority of the world's attacks. If this is what Bush sees as the "central front" in the GWOT, then we are losing.

And I believe it's because of using the wrong tactics in the fight. We learned that when you remove all semblance of civil authority in a region, the terrorists do NOT go away, but rather become the authorities themselves.

I still believe that the best solution is to work with governments to help them handle terrorism issues within their own borders. There will be some, like the Taliban, who choose to enable terrorists, and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will.


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Comments (25)

engineer:

Larkin, then you are all for leaders such as Saddam and Ahmadinejad, and say, Stalin and Mao and Hitler? They all were strong governments with an effective police and military. The problem with strong leaders like that, although they tend to keep the "terrorists" in line, they have a bad habit of spilling over into their neighboring countries.

Further, if it takes a strong government with an effective police and military force, then removing American troops would just lead to even worse conditions, since the government and it's entities would be weakened.

"...it's gone from a place with almost no terrorist activity to being the site of the vast majority of the world's attacks." Quite possible the majority of attacks are in Iraq, since we are fighting the terrorists there. Kinda makes sense. Sure beats fighting them in a major Western city.

DJ Drummond:

Thank you Paul, that was a thoughtful article. However, I disagree with some of your contentions, as you did with mine.

First, I want to emphasize the difference between Global Terrorism and some of the other sorts. McVeigh's bomb was Domestic Terrorism, a nasty threat in its own right but a different sort of threat than Global Terrorism. When groups are formed specifically to commit acts of terrorism in other countries, to destabilize governments and commit acts of war - like Al Qaeda - they do indeed demand a military response. Half-measures will surely fail in responding to them.

I also disagree with your contention that there were no terrorists in Iraq before the invasion. There is, after all, a good reason we found Carlos the Jackal in Iraq, why we found Abu Nidal in Iraq, why we found literally dozens of warehouses with tens of thousands of bomb vests and other terrorist devices. Iraq supported, trained, and directed a number of terrorist groups, and that fact must not be ignored.

According to General Phillips, who is coordinating the development and interaction between the various Iraqi police forces (Highway Patrol, Port Authorities, and so on), only around 1/4 of Iraq is seeing any sort of significant violence. The media focuses on North Iraq and Baghdad, and therefore ignores success in many other places, ALL due to the U.S. Military's leadership and training. You want a respected civilian presence? It did not exist prior to the Coalition invasion, and has been designed and built through American direction.

The tactics we are using are right, but must be fluid to changing actions by the opponent. It also needs saying, that the manipulation of our troops' accomplishments for political gain is extremely dishonorable, and yes I mean that many Democrats, especially Senator Reid, have acted in unconscionably poor measure.

P. Bunyan:

"who choose to enable terrorists"

I'm curious Paul. Would you consider paying the families of suicide bombers $25,000 as enabling. What about providing safe havens and places to train?

"and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will"

First, how many nations do you consider to be enough? Definitely not 51, so what's the magic number? 52?

Second, you said "should", but what if you can't get a "unified, internation front"? Do you then do nothing? Just sit back and take it?

P. Bunyan:

"To keep them in check we need strong governments with effective police and military forces who are able to impose order upon their countries"

So Larkin, do you believe the best way for Iraq to build a "stong govenment with effective police and military forces" is to pull out as quickly as possible and abandon them to the terrorists?

Paul Hamilton:

Engineer:
I'm sure I don't need to remind you that the US funded people like the Shah of Iran, Gen. Pinochet and even Saddam Hussein, all of whom were brutal dictators but all of whom, in the minds of some Washington "thinkers," were deemed valuable to our interests.

It's oldthink to use dictators as proxies to promote our policies. It's been shown to not work time after time because democracy -- which is supposed to be our goal, remember? -- cannot be imposed from above but must be nurtured from the grassroots. We have a perfect opportunity to do this in Iran, a nation in which the majority are chafing under a theocracy they do not support.

Paul Hamilton:

DJ: Glad to provide a bridge between our boards and our points of view. Hopefully others will follow our example.

That's a good point about McVeigh. The thing is that terrorists hold no loyalty to any nation. In fact, they generally see nation-states as enemies of their agenda. Often, these people are motivated by religion, and clearly a lot of Islamic nations right now are having problems with folks who would like nothing better than to overthrow the current regimes and impose sharia. So you'd think that in the vast majority of cases, these nations would want to cooperate with other nations who seek to promote international stability. Pakistan would be a good example. The problem is that while Pakistan is a real hotbed of radical Islam, we are so tied up in Iraq that we can't be at the forefront of a multilateral effort to help Pakistan rid itself of the terrorists within. And make no mistake that these terrorists are both internal and external menaces. It's in Pakistan's interest to cooperate, but Busharof (sp?) has to do a very delicate balancing act to avoid triggering chaos in his own country.

And while some terrorists might have used Iraq for cover -- and most of them hid out in the Kurdish region since that was the place Saddam had the least power -- I said "terrorISM," not terrorists. A state of anarchy breed terrorists, and serves as a training ground for them should they choose to carry their evil outside the borders. I do think that for the time being, these folks will stay where they are. Both the Sunni and Shia's short term goals are to gain power within the borders of Iraq. The problem is that while obviously peace is a good thing for Iraq, the end of the fighting and whatever political balance is reached will free up the bad guys to take their show on the road. That's why it was so crucial to not let things get out of hand when we first invaded, and why the failure to accomplish that goal is going to cost us well into the future.

As for the general's statement that only 25% of the nation being plagued by terrorism, I'd agree. It's the points where the Sunni and Shia areas of power meet that there will be conflict. And of course Baghdad is a mix of all the forces, so it will be a hotbed of violence forever. You also must remember that large parts of Iraq are largely unpopulated, so you wouldn't expect violence there either.

Thanks again for posting both here and on Wizbang Classic. I enjoy thoughtful posts like yours.

Paul Hamilton:

P Bunyan: The current war in Iraq is not truly multilateral. The first Gulf War was. Lip service and token forces in exchange for aid and other benefits is not a valid measure.

As for the $25,000, of course I don't support it. But how many checks did Saddam actually cut? For that matter, how was the transfer of funds accomplished? You seem to forget that he had few friends in the region -- for good reason, nobody trusted him -- and so I can't imagine that his publicity stunt actually amounted to anything.

And if you can't get a multinational coalition, maybe we need to think again about whether the cause is worthy. The US couldn't get meaningful support for the current war in Iraq because, unlike 1991, other nations just didn't see anything that justified sending troops. We are one nation among many. We cannot engage terrorists all over the world without help and cooperation so maybe the best thing we could do is get over the notion that we are "The Decider" and call all the shots.

Paul Hamilton:

Jay, that is a great point. But as an example of pro-active police work, look at the way law enforcement deals with organized crime, which is the closest non-terrorist example of a group like al Qaeda. They spy on them, and use every available legal means to block their funding and day-to-day operations. The result is that organized crime is choked off before they can pull off major operations.

And this was the way we first reacted to al Qaeda following the 9-11 attacks. We went after their money, and by all indications, it's worked very, very well. We also monitored their communications, and acted to assist other nations to deal with the problems of terrorists working within their own borders. I'd say this phase of the GWOT has been a big success.

But Bush still sees Iraq as the central front, and you would think he could tell that the tactics he's used there have not been a success at all. In fact, they've been a victory for the bad guys.

So yes, a pro-active stance is vital, but international cooperation, the flexibility of a smaller, more highly trained force and a tight focus on the terrorists themselves is still what I believe is the best means of dealing with this new, non-national, enemy.

P. Bunyan:

O.k. I get it Paul, rather than acknoledge 50 nations that were our allies, it's best to ignore, downplay and/or discredit their allegence. Yup that should really help America's standing in the world and encourage international cooperation in the future.

And even though Saddam was clearly enabling terrorists, it's best to just pretend that it wasn't really happening.

Well, at least I can see from where you're coming. If the facts don't fit into your worldview you just pretend they don't exist.

P. Bunyan:

And what's the magic number Paul? You don't seem to think 51 nations is "multilateral" so how many does it take?

P. Bunyan:

My point Paul, is that you cannot say:

"There will be some, like the Taliban, who choose to enable terrorists, and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will."

and then say that the invasion of Iraq was unjustified, as what happened is exactly what you described above. It appears to me to be a case of cognative dissonance.

So what's the percentage of the world's nation's that are required before it passes your test and actually becomes "multinational"? Do think that 51 nations is "unilateral"?

jp2:

"The fundamental problem with the law enforcement approach is that is REACTIVE. They go after people who have already attacked. "

Ummm...did you get all of your vast knowledge of law enforcement from watching "Murder She Wrote?"

So wildly off base I don't know where to start.

Paul Hamilton:

Jay Tea said:
>>nothing anywhere near the magnitude of their prior operations.

And I believe that is the result of the POLICE-type actions we've taken, as I described in the earlier note, not as the result of our military incursions.

Paul Hamilton:

P. Bunyan said:
>>Do think that 51 nations is "unilateral"?

What is the combined contribution of the 49 nations other than the US and the UK?

Britain helped. Everybody else was just along for lip service and tokenism.

P. Bunyan:

"Everybody else was just along for lip service and tokenism"

I think the richest, most powerful nation in the world, the one with most powerful, best trained, most technologically advanced, best equipped, most expensive military in the world should contribute the most.

But that's an actual liberal concept so you probably wouldn't understand.

What I don't understand why you feel the need to degrade and disrespect our allies like John Kerry did. Doesn't seem very productive. Then again we may have different difinitions of "productive".

I am truly curious as to what your number is Paul. All the nations but the one we wanna liberate? 90%? 75% 50%? Depends on if an R or D is in the Whitehouse?

All we know right now is that you think the third largest coalition of nations in the history of the human race wasn't good enough for some reason. I wonder why? Who cares how much each individual member contributed? Do you have a clue how poor most countries are?

The grandfather of the modern American Democratic Party once said "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." But I guess not in this case.

Paul Hamilton:

>>Depends on if an R or D is in the Whitehouse?

I've already said that Desert Storm should be the example we strive to emulate against rogue nations and terrorists in the future. Bush Sr sure wasn't a Dem...

P. Bunyan:

"I've already said that Desert Storm should be the example we strive to emulate against rogue nations and terrorists in the future. Bush Sr sure wasn't a Dem..."

What does Desert Storm have to do with:

"There will be some, like the Taliban, who choose to enable terrorists, and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will."

Apples to oranges...

Than there's this:

"The only war that I've supported in my adult life -- and that goes back to the 60s -- was our action in Afghanistan following the 9-11 attacks."

Not only that, but compare the second quote above with:

"And we blew that when we bombed a bunch of places utterly irrelevant to bin Laden"

Hmmm. Cognitive disonance or outright mandacity? I report. You decide...

And a correction to my 10:57pm post last night- 6th paragraph- Operation Iraqi Freedom (what John Kerry and most leftists think was "unilateral") was the second largest coalition of nations in the history of the human race, not the third (the third was WII). Sorry, it was late.

P. Bunyan:

(Same post fixed HTML tags to italicize all Paul Hamilton quotes)

"I've already said that Desert Storm should be the example we strive to emulate against rogue nations and terrorists in the future. Bush Sr sure wasn't a Dem..."

What does Desert Storm have to do with:

"There will be some, like the Taliban, who choose to enable terrorists, and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will."

Apples to oranges...

Than there's this:

"The only war that I've supported in my adult life -- and that goes back to the 60s -- was our action in Afghanistan following the 9-11 attacks."

Not only that, but compare the second quote above with:

"And we blew that when we bombed a bunch of places utterly irrelevant to bin Laden"

Hmmm. Cognitive disonance or outright mandacity? I report. You decide...

And a correction to my 10:57pm post last night- 6th paragraph- Operation Iraqi Freedom (what John Kerry and most leftists think was "unilateral") was the second largest coalition of nations in the history of the human race, not the third (the third was WII). Sorry, it was late.

Paul Hamilton:

Jay said:
>>I thought that "Desert Storm was a failure because we didn't drive on Baghdad and remove Saddam when we had the chance" was the standard talking point.

It was indeed. And that's what I said a the time, too. But history has shown that Bush Sr did exactly what was appropriate and exactly what the UN mandated and his coalition agreed to. It was a masterpiece which didn't become clear until a decade later when we got it all wrong.

>>Careful, if your ideological peers see you talking nice about that one, you could end up like Joe Lieberman...

No. Unlike Republicans, liberals and conservatives don't have litmus tests that we have to pass. And believe me, unlike Lieberman, I want us out of Iraq at the first practical opportunity.

Paul Hamilton:

P. Bunyan said:
>>Hmmm. Cognitive disonance or outright mandacity? I report. You decide...

I might not have been clear. What I meant was that I supported us taking military action against bin Laden and Afghanistan so it would no longer be a safe haven for terrorists.

So.... We sat around and did basically NOTHING for at least six weeks and then we bounced some rubble in the northern part of the country and had exactly one half-assed commando raid where Osama was supposed to have been. It accomplished nothing.

We messed around for a few weeks and finally were supposed to have trapped Binnie at Tora Bora. So did we send in the Delta Force or the Green Berets to wipe him off the face of the earth? No we didn't. We farmed out the attack to some local tribes of highly questionable loyalty.

And sure enough, even though we had him dead to rights, he got away. I'm sure some money exchanged hands to facilitate that...

So yeah, I did support military action to get Osama. I bet that 99% of the American people did, and what happened? NOTHING! Bush was afraid to make a meaningful commitment of boots on the ground until the horse was not only out of the barn, he was out of the country.

Paul Hamilton:

Jeez, Paul, learn to type...

I said above:
>>No. Unlike Republicans, liberals and conservatives don't have litmus tests that we have to pass.

I *meant*:
>>No. Unlike Republicans and conservatives, liberals don't have litmus tests that we have to pass.

P. Bunyan:

Paul, let me see if I can better summarize your semantic contortionist act thus far so you can better see my point.

In your post you said you approve of taking action against governments "who choose to enable terrorists" as long as it multilateral (and you think 51 nations is not multilateral, but rufuse to say how many nations it would take before you would call it multilateral).

But then you condemn the coalition forces for taking action against the the Afgani government instead of soley focusing on Osama Bin Ladin.

You condemn the invasion of Iraq even though it clearly fits what you described as a justified action in your post and then you use Desert Storm as an example of a justifed action.

Except, Desert Storm had nothing to do with terrorism and the only military action (since the 60's) you've supported in your life is the ivasion of Afganistan even though the invasion of Afganistan was wrong because they went after a government that chose to enable terrorists instead of focusing soley on the terrorists.

Again, is this an example of cognitive disonance or simply outright mandacity?

P. Bunyan:

"Unlike Republicans and conservatives, [socialists] don't have litmus tests that we have to pass."

LOL

ROFLMAO

Thanks! I love starting the weekend with a good belly laugh.

Would you vote for a presidential candidate that strony supported and advocated for the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

Paul Hamilton:

P. Bunyan: No, it's just deliberate obtuseness on your part and I don't waste my time replying to people who don't bother to read what I've already posted.

Paul Hamilton:

P. Bunyan asked:
>>Would you vote for a presidential candidate that strony supported and advocated for the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

Yes I would because it's bad law. It treats the fetus the same through all nine months of pregnancy when it's obvious that a single celled organism and a nine-month fetus are vastly different.

I'd like to see the law provide a medically-valid definition of life -- I'd suggest the existance of brain waves -- and prior to the appearance of that evidence of life, women could freely choose to terminate their pregnancy. After the presence of brain waves, it would require a medical necessity to get an abortion because the fetus would be a living human being and deserving of all the rights and protections of the rest of us.

Surprised?


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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