Sunday, August 20, 2006

It is the LONG War, Remember?

Some people need a serious beating with the reality stick. We are at war and if anybody who has supported war in the past thought it would be over quickly and that normal difficulty means they are free to check out of the war, they need to reconsider.

Instapundit notes that the pro-war right is unhappy with President Bush.

The blogger he links to says we took down the Taliban and hurt al Qaeda but blew it on Iraq, left North Korea to fester and cobble together nukes and missiles, done nothing while Iran prepares to go nuclear, and let Saudi Arabia get away with supporting Wahabbi teachings that fuel Isamofascism.

I think the pro-war right underestimates what we've accomplished and seems to forget that the President has much to do and two-and-a-half years to do some of it and set the stage for his successor to continue the Long War. Remember what we faced nearly five years ago (via Instapundit):



From those events, President Bush drew a fixed conclusion: as long as the Middle East remains a bitter and backward mess, America will not be secure. Dictators in that region survive by finding scapegoats for their failures—feeding conspiracy theories about Americans and Jews—and use religious groups to destroy reformers and democrats. Oil money strengthens elites, buys rockets, funds research into weapons of mass destruction, builds radical schools across Africa and Asia and finds its way to terrorist organizations. Terrorist organizers exploit the humiliated and hopeless—channeling their search for meaning into acts of murder—and plot, as London 2006 proves, to surpass the mad ambitions of 9/11.


So let's look at what we've done and what must yet be done.

We faced an Iraq that looked like it was hiding active WMD weapons and programs, and supported terror with a track record of aggression in the region--al in violation of UN resolutions. Iran supported terror and pursued nukes, too. Afghanistan harbored al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had a secure sanctuary they believed was beyond our reach. Pakistan aided the Taliban. Saudi Arabia was content to let extremists kill us as long as they left Saudi Arabia alone. And North Korea was discovered breaking their agreement to halt nuclear weapons development.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Let's see, in an unorthodox campaign, we reached around the globe, grabbed the Taliban regime by its throat, and destroyed the regime that allied itself with Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda was pummeled and scattered, denied a sanctuary and has been impotent to strike us at home. Video threats are all we have gotten from that murdering psychopath as he hides in the mountains of Pakistan.

We turned Pakistan from helping the Taliban to supporting our fight against bin Laden. We could use more help, but we've gotten enough to beat the Taliban and put pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

We have gained Saudi help in fighting al Qaeda. The ideology remains but we can't do everything at once. Saudi Arabia is better now than it was on September 10, 2001.

We crushed Saddam's regime in a brilliant campaign in record time and low cost. No longer would Saddam be a threat, and we've gained Iraqi troops to fight at our side, killing jihadis who rushed to Iraq to fight. The campaign against the insurgents and terrorists has been tougher than I expected for a number of reasons, yet still we are winning despite recent threats to democracy posed by Shia-Sunni violence. This alone is instructive--the major threat is now internal strife and not enemy terrorists or insurgents trying to take over the government.

Iran has not yet gone nuclear and we've exposed the European process as deluded. Iranian support for Hizbollah and their rhetoric of hate have made it clear that Iran will not negotiate away the ability to incinerate Jews and infidels in atomic fire.

North Korea is more isolated than ever and squeezed by sanctions that could collapse the regime. Our allies have moved toward our position of confronting Pyongyang as the Pillsbury Nuke Boy has rattled sabres and refused to consider abandoning nuclear weapons.

We've pushed Syria's army out of Lebanon to give Lebanon a fighting chance to build a real democracy.

We've convinced Libya to abandon WMD programs and halt support for terrorism.

Oh, and let's not forget progress with other nations allying to our side these past five years. And this doesn't even mention all the smaller countries that help us with troop levels small by our standards but large by theirs. Or the quiet help we get from even Germany and France and Moslem countries in the quiet intelligence struggle to stop terrorists.

And remember that traditional allies like Canada have stepped up in Afghanistan; South Korea in Iraq; Australia in Iraq and Afghanistan; and, of course, Britain has been solid fighting at our side against common enemies.

We have work to do, of course. Our enemies want to win and so fight back. Damned incosiderate but this is what war means.

Afghanistan cannot yet stand on its feet without our help.

Pakistan does not help enough to track down al Qaeda hiding in their country. Nor has Pakistan confronted the Islamist ideology that propels Pakistanis to join Taliban and al Qaeda forces who go to Afghanistan to fight and die.

We must continue to train Iraqi forces to take over the fight from our forces. We have been a shield for Iraq to build a government and a security force and we have bought Iraq time. In the months and years to come, the Iraqis must visibly reduce our burden by taking on more of the fight. And the fight must be brought to the Iranian puppets like Sadr who fan sectarian flames to benefit Iran.

Saudi Arabia may fight the symptoms of terrorist attacks but they do not have the desire to attack the ideology that propels terrorists.

Egypt still spawns terrorists.

Iran under the mullahs cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

Iran's sponsorship of terror, as we've seen in Lebanon and Iraq, must be halted.

North Korea must be contained until the regime is overthrown or collapses.

Syria cannot be allowed to support terror in Lebanon and Iraq.

Europe must find ways to end the active and passive support of their Moslems for radical Islamism.

We must ensure that elections continue in the Palestinian Authority in the hope that regular elections will eventually lead the voters to reward effective governance rather than hate. But at least the voters of the PA must bear responsibility for their government's actions. Clarity is an improvement.

We must continue to identify, kill, and arrest jihadis to keep them from striking us.

Yet these are all difficult problems. Saudi and Iranian oil, Pakistani nukes, European indifference, and probably secret diplomatic commitments to Egypt made decades ago to provide money to Egypt for making peace with Israel all lower our leverage to move those objectives along.

We've made a good start. But we need to accomplish a lot. Stand fast, people. This is the Long War. Even if we get tired of fighting, our enemies do not tire of trying to kill us. We have no choice but to seek out the terrorists and kill them, destroy the regimes that refuse to halt their support of those terrorists, discredit and marginalize the ideology theat propels stone cold killers, and for God's sake, prevent insane regimes from going nuclear. No matter how tough the fight proves to be or how long it takes.

Are you pro-war and unhappy now? Get a grip. It can be a lot worse. Our president still seems like he knows what we have to do next in this Long War.

Podhoretz does not believe that the president has abandoned his goals and that his critics are, as I would describe them, lacking a certain nuance in appreciating the president's tactics to reach his objectives:



There are utopians to whom pursuing a principled or idealistic policy necessarily precludes the prudential judgment that determines which fights to pick at a given moment and which to delay until the time is ripe, when to pause and when to advance, and which tactic is the right one to use in maneuvering on a particular front. There are also “realists” who take the necessity of prudential judgment as proof that a policy driven by ideals is altogether incapable of being executed and can only lead to disaster if its proponents are na├»ve enough to try putting it into practice.

In pointing this out, I am not suggesting that those of us who share Bush’s ideas and ideals, but who labor under neither utopian nor realist delusions, are barred from questioning the soundness of his prudential judgment in this or that instance. But I am suggesting that, by the same token, we have an intellectual responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that he has already taken those ideas and ideals much farther than might have been thought possible, especially given the ferocity of the opposition they have encountered from all sides and the difficulties they have also met with in the field. Indeed, it is a measure of his enormous political skills that—at a time in 2004 when things were not looking at all good for the Bush Doctrine’s prospects in Iraq—he succeeded in mobilizing enough support for its wildly controversial principles to run on them for a second term and win.

War isn't up to us, remember? Our enemies won't stop if we decide to come home because we are tired of the burden we now carry. Victor Hanson put it nicely about what we face:

So never mind the trillions in petrodollars, billions in aid and concessions. Unless we change our very character, or the Middle East achieves success and confidence through Western-style democracy and economic reform, expect more tired scapegoating and violence from radical discontents, from Lebanon to London -- and well beyond.

Back off now before we win and one day we can look forward to the Congressional inquiry of why we lost Charleston in a nuclear flash one quiet Sunday morning.

We are in a Long War.

Have a nice decade.