Friday, September 11, 2009

The "War on Terror" 8 Years On

It has been 8 years since America was attacked by al-Qaeda. So how goes the war on terror? I never liked the term, but not necessarily for the reasons put forward by the Obama administration. When the government starts a war on some nebulous enemy, it is always interminable and we never seem to win. Think "war on drugs" or "war on poverty." Let me be clear, to borrow a phrase, I want America to win, because our enemies embody the very antithesis what our masthead states. They seek to impose tyranny and injustice around the world.

The war on terror is actually a war against a particular brand of Islamic extremism. Because it is characterized by paranoia, unreasonging hatred of Jews and a disdain for democracy, combined with a faux religiosity, I see no better term than Islamofascism. The main fronts in this war are Iraq and Afghanistan, but the war is world wide, because al Qaeda and its ilk operate through out the world.

In Afghanistan, it is a hard slog. I am not so expert as to say whether we are winning or losing. Afghanistan has never had a strong central government, but it has had periods of peace where the tribal leaders held the country together under a loose monarchy. I say this because some Democrats are calling for us to quit Afghanistan, including chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin. Many parallels to Vietnam certainly exist, but Afghanistan is no Vietnam. The problem of course is the haven it provided and still provides to al Qaeda. My real concern would be the dropping support for the war would lead to withdrawal of troops. I think Afghanistan can be won, but we must help the central government put together tribal alliances that will hold and thus isolate the Taliban. Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote "War is the continuation of politics by other means." The question was rhetorical, and he did not fully believe it, but made the point that war and political ends are inextricably linked. In Afghanistan, both are necessary for victory, and the same can be said of Iraq.

In Iraq, the Americans, after creating pre-conditions for stability, have seemingly quit the battlefield. This probably serves the interests of the Iraqi central government for the moment. However, it remains to be seen if the uptick in violence, including the August 19 truck bombing, that seemed partly the work of traitors, is related to the reduced presence of U.S. troops. Continued violence will prevent the building of a civic society in Iraq that is needed to make it a model for that part of the world. Obama seems intent on withdrawing from Iraq, but again, we have not been able to get politics and war fighting to operate together effectively. I fear that the good work of the surge will be undone by Iraqi politics, allowing extremism to continue wreak havoc.

Obama seems not very concerned about all of this, preferring to concentrate on his health care debacle. He seems to be voting "present" as commander-in-chief, not articulating a clear strategy to deal with deteriorating situations. He better start paying attention, Americans seldom elect Presidents primarily because of foreign policy, but foreign affairs can undo the Presidency.


  1. Good news! We've lifted our export ban to Syria and will now be selling them aircraft components. This must mean that the Axis of Evil has lost one of their chief lackies.

    That is what it means, isn't it?

  2. B-Daddy, nice work. Link forthcoming.

  3. Hi,
    good point that foreign affairs can undo the Presidency. Nice article.
    thanks Elli