Necessary and strategic

I understand principled arguments against war. I even agree with some of the points made against the Iraq war. War is not the answer to every political question. But war is necessary and even welcome in certain circumstances. War can solve problems that can sometimes be solved no other way. Well, let me rephrase that. Victory can solve problems that can sometimes be solved no other way. John Kerry and Lyndon LaRouche’s warnings notwithstanding, I believe Bush has acted judiciously and with the best interests of the world in mind. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were right and just despite the arguments the left has leveled against them.

First of all, the idea that Bush somehow knew that 9/11 was going to happen is of course ludicrious. The accusation that he should have known what was going to happen is only slightly less ludicrous, but deserves an answer if only to rebut the claim. There did appear to be bits of intelligence regarding some of the attackers and certainly regarding Al Qaeda threats. This intelligence was available to the Clinton administration as well.

After all it was during the eight years of the Clinton administration that the Al Qaeda threat actually matured: The USS Cole, the embassy bombings, and previous attempts to bring down the world trade towers. Should Clinton have known that 9/11 was about to happen? I don't think so, given the fact that the intelligence services have been pared down considerably since the end of the cold war and the volume of intelligence of this type is huge. Sifting and attaching significance to each bit of information is a herculean job. But if Bush should have known, he would have had to get this information from the Clinton Administration. To believe the worst of Bush is to lay the blame on Clinton as well.

Honestly, I don't judge the Clinton Administration too harshly on their failure to act effectively against this threat. They pursued the criminal investigation path for the most part. And in fact prosecuted terrorist conspirators in several bombings. My question is, "Did pursueing this strategy result in creating less Osama Bin Ladens?" Obviously there were more terrorist acts to come.

We cannot say that merely treating a terrorist act as a singular criminal act actually deters future terrorists acts. The supply of potential terrorists is finite but apparently larger than we can handle in a criminal justice sense. How do you limit the supply of terrorists? How do we change the minds of those willing and philosophically disposed to committing acts of terror? I believe we must do more than just put out a warrant of arrest for a dozen or so conspirators... one attack at a time. Or try to negotiate an extradition of Osama Bin Laden rather than going in to get him. We must begin working on two fronts to help the people of the middle east make their countries a place that does not breed terrorism. Those two fronts are physical and mental.

If we talk tough but do not follow through we are doomed fail. Failure to oppose corrupt regimes, failure to enact or encourage actual peace and freedom in the Middle East reveals us as ipso facto collaborators with the corrupt regimes there. Failure to take swift and violent action when needed reveals us as paper tigers.

Clinton vowed Wednesday that the perpetrators responsible for the deaths of 17 Americans would be tracked down.

To those who attacked them we say, 'You will not find a safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail. America will not stop standing guard for peace or freedom or stability in the Middle East and around the world,'.

...Cohen, who referred to the bombing as an "act of pure evil," joined the president in urging all Americans to give thanks for the sacrifices made by all U.S. military personnel, including the sailors on the Cole. -CNN

As soon as the Bush Administration began bombing in Afghanistan the protests started. The accusations of imperialism, of global hegemony, of Republican/conservative warmongering, and outright military aggression were leveled at Bush. In Afghanistan there was a clear connection between Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban yet the anti-war crowd did not hold that to be a good enough reason to go to war.

"The messages here are very simple - stop the bombing of Afghanistan, end the war now and stop the militarisation of space - scrap the National Missile Defence system."

He said those responsible for the US terror attacks should be brought to justice by legal means in an international court.

"War is not the answer, you can't fight fire with fire. It will only create more bin Ladens." -BBC News

The Taliban was a brutal regime of religio-fascists who treated women as sub-humans and routinely tortured or killed men for not adhering to their strict and byzantine religious laws. You could get the death penalty for not growing a beard for pete's sake. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were not just 'guests' of the Taliban, the 'soldiers' of the Taliban and Al Qaeda were one in the same.

Of course those terrorists that we can capture should be prosecuted. But if this is all we do, it will not stem the tide or change the direction of terror. Is it practical and effective to rule out military action completely? Even John Kerry has changed his tune about using military force, "when necessary to neutralize terrorists and drain the swamps where they breed."

Then there are some who question why we didn't send in more troops and make it a full scale invasion. But I think that the number of troops and the type of forces were sufficient to do the job and the response was appropriate and proportional. The Taliban is no longer in power. Osama Bin Laden is either dead or hiding in a hole and will be caught sooner or later.

This war isn't just a manhunt - a checklist of names from a deck of cards. In it, we do not face just one man or one terrorist group. We face a global jihadist movement of many groups, from different sources, with separate agendas, but all committed to assaulting the United States and free and open societies around the globe.

As CIA Director George Tenet recently testified: "They are not all creatures of bin Laden, and so their fate is not tied to his. They have autonomous leadership, they pick their own targets, they plan their own attacks."

At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.

Winning the war of ideas is not about giving in to a group or taking the position you think will make you popular with those you are trying to convince. It's about taking a stand and doing what you think is right. Liberating entire nations is right. George Bush did what was right and freed the Afghani's and Iraqi's who were under the bondage of gross tyranny.

Ought we not to be ready to make as many sacrifices and excertions for our own broad central theme and cause as the fanatics of either of these new creeds? Ought we not to produce in defense of Right, champions as bold, missionaries as eager, and if need be, swords as sharp as are at the disposal of the leaders of totalitarian states? -Winston Churchill, 1938 "The Choice for Europe."

Except now, our enemy is not a single state. It is a totalitarian theocratic-ideology. It is every state in the Middle East willing to nurture and let loose terrorists on the world. The first step in breaking the hold of this ideology of hate is to reverse course -- in the minds of the people of the Middle East the last fifty years has been a history of our collaboration with corrupt regimes.

Bush has seized the initiative, righted two wrongs, and reversed a policy of amoral complicity into one of righteous action. Politicians like Kerry are advocating that we stick with the previous status quo. When that policy is no longer valid or profitable. We cannot continue to try to take both sides and not worry about the real consequences of being involved enough to be blamed, but not involved enough to make a difference.

Posted by Eric Simonson at March 10, 2004 12:29 PM