Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hollow Words

Here's the Bush Administration's latest National Security Strategy. It sounds a lot like the old one:

"While the War on Terror is a battle of ideas, it is not a battle of religions. The transnational terrorists confronting us today exploit the proud religion of Islam to serve a violent political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers – including Christians, Jews, Hindus, other religious traditions, and all Muslims who disagree with them. Indeed, most of the terrorist attacks since September 11 have occurred in Muslim countries – and most of the victims have been Muslims…"

Four and a half years ago most Americans probably bought that fiction, mostly because they hadn't been paying the Muslim world much attention and didn't know any better. The French riots and those following the Danish cartoon flap, just to name a couple of examples, have opened the eyes of a great many more of us to the truths that the Bushies still don't want to acknowledge: (1) We may not want to see the GWOT as a "battle of religions," but that's how the enemy sees it and that's how they're fighting it; (2) they're not "exploiting" Islam, but carrying out its fundamental violent, imperialistic, and aggressive teachings; and (3) jihad is "a call for murder against those Muslims regard as apostates and unbelievers. The word means "holy war." It's awfully difficult to see how the Islamists, whether al Qaeda Sunnis or Iranian Shiites, are "distorting" it.

The oldest principle of war is to know your enemy. This far into a quarter-century global struggle in which we've really only just begun to engage, the President still refuses to acknowledge just who our enemies are. Can it be any surprise, therefore, that the war effort has stalled, half-fought, at the borders of Syria and Iran, belying the central tenet of the NSS that follows?

"The strategy to counter the lies behind the terrorists’ ideology is to empower the very people the terrorists most want to exploit: the faithful followers of Islam. We will continue to support political reforms that empower peaceful Muslims to practice and interpret their faith. The most vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself, and Jordan, Morocco, and Indonesia have begun to make important strides in this effort. Responsible Islamic leaders need to denounce an ideology that distorts and exploits Islam for destructive ends and defiles a proud religion…
Once again, the Bushies have it backwards. The strategy to which this NSS refers is itself the defilement of the religion it so dhimmistically goes out of its way to praise. That is the transformation that must take place if Islamic fundamentalism is to be neutralized. Islam must be apostasized if it is to democratize, pacifize, and otherwise join the modern world. That's precisely what makes the great experiment going on in Iraq so radical, and makes me wonder if they realize just what is at stake there.

"The advance of freedom and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution to the transnational terrorism of today. To create the space and time for that long-term solution to take root, there are four steps we will take in the short term.

*Prevent attacks by terrorist networks before they occur. A government has no higher obligation than to protect the lives and livelihoods of its citizens. The hard core of the terrorists cannot be deterred or reformed; they must be tracked down, killed, or captured. They must be cut off from the network of individuals and institutions on which they depend for support. That network must in turn be deterred, disrupted, and disabled by using a broad range of tools.
What if the terrorists to be tracked down, killed, or captured are in Syria or Iran? Why wasn't this justification touted as the principle one to invade Iraq, especially given the documented cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden? Wouldn't that have made it a lot harder for the DisLoyal Opposition to detach Iraq from the GWOT in the broader public consciousness?

*Deny WMD to rogue states and to terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. Terrorists have a perverse moral code that glorifies deliberately targeting innocent civilians. Terrorists try to inflict as many casualties as possible and seek WMD to this end. Denying terrorists WMD will require new tools and new international approaches. We are working with partner nations to improve security at vulnerable nuclear sites worldwide and bolster the ability of states to detect, disrupt, and respond to terrorist activity involving WMD.
Syria has Saddam's WMD. Iran has chemical, biological, and is, at best, very close to possessing nuclear weapons. North Korea has nukes. It sounds like this leg of the Strategy has already been...well, pre-empted.

*Deny terrorist groups the support and sanctuary of rogue states. The United States and its allies in the War on Terror make no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they are equally guilty of murder. Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror, such as Syria or Iran, has chosen to be an enemy of freedom, justice, and peace. The world must hold those regimes to account.
How? How can Syria and Iran be prevented from supporting and harboring terrorist groups without invading Syria and Iran and toppling their terrorist regimes? The logic of this is inarguable. And the best the White House can do is, "hold those regimes to account"? What in the blue hell is that supposed to mean? Do we even want to know the answer?

*Deny the terrorists control of any nation that they would use as a base and launching pad for terror. The terrorists’ goal is to overthrow a rising democracy; claim a strategic country as a haven for terror; destabilize the Middle East; and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. This we can never allow. This is why success in Afghanistan and Iraq is vital, and why we must prevent terrorists from exploiting ungoverned areas."

Too late. Terrorists already control Iran. Have for twenty-seven years, ever since they committed their first act of war against the United States by storming our embassy in Tehran. And one of the stormers is now their figurehead president.

So, as Bugs Bunny once said to Yosemite Sam, "How now, brown cow?"

The funniest part about this supposed reaffirmation of a Bush Doctrine that the White House itself has long since abandoned is that there are pundits who not only think, based on nothing but their own partisan paranoia, that this sounds like the prelude to Operation Iraqi Freedom all over again (We should be so fortunate), but are actually afraid of that non-possibility, as though we have nothing to fear from a nuclear Iranian terror state fronted by a man who, if Hinduism weren't mystical nonsense, would be a good candidate for the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler.

They offer no alternative strategy for the prevention of this unacceptable scenario. But then, they don't make any pretense of doing so, either. The Bushies do, via this NSS, and yet there is nothing in the pathetic, sclerotically Kerryesque approach they've taken to the Iranian nuke crisis that remotely suggests they have the stomach for taking the critically imperative next steps to carry the war to a victorious conclusion.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, and I'll continue to say it: war with Iran is inevitable. Iran has been at war with us since I was in the ninth grade, and they are moving toward the endgame. If we don't recognize this state of war and act accordingly, the consequences, to quote Doc Brown in an entirely different context, will be disastrous.

This NSS should make me a lot more confident about the Administration's recognition of these sobering facts than I am. And that may be the scariest part of all.