Sunday, June 10, 2012

The War on Terror: A Victory of Sorts

We have lots of gloom in the Western world, and lots of valid reasons for that gloom. Almost every major Western country, from Australia to Japan to the USA to the benighted European continent, has mediocre to genuinely awful leadership. The few bright spots, e.g., Canada, Israel, Estonia, Chile, Wisconsin, have not yet managed to generate the energy to hold back, much less reverse, the tide of mediocrity that threatens to drown us all in debt, political correctness, bureaucracy, and lawyers.  We, however, have one possible glimmer of hope that is becoming brighter around the world: the defeat of Islamist terrorism. The last few years have not been good ones for the jihadis.  We can and, in fact, are defeating them.

 There has not been nor likely will be a surrender ceremony on a warship, in a rail car, or in a courthouse, but the great terrorist movements of the late 20th century and early 21st century are in disarray and crumbling. Dogged determination, lots of resources, guts, and intelligence (in both meanings of the word) have produced a remarkable result. On previous occasions, this humble blog has argued that we needed to inflict a series of defeats on the Islamists to drive home the message that they can bring only death, destruction, and hopelessness to their followers. All over the world, in fact, we now see the jihadis in retreat and staring at defeat. The nonsense about how they will replace every slain "martyr" with five, ten, twenty, thirty, etc., recruits has been shown to be, well, nonsense. As LTC Ralph Peters once wisely observed, "When you kill a terrorist, you do not make a martyr; you make a dead terrorist." Al Qaeda (AQ) and its once vaunted family of affiliates is a shell of its former self. No other organizations have sprung up with the global reach of the decaying AQ network.

The death knell for AQ rang in Iraq. Whatever the reasons were for the intervention, and despite the fashionable claim that Iraq was a distraction from the "real" war on terror, AQ died in Iraq. The leaders of AQ made the very unwise decision to go to war head-to-head with the United States military. Bad mistake. Iraq turned into Al Qaeda's Battle of Lepanto. They took on not only the most powerful military ever to exist, but also one that learns from its mistakes, adapts quickly, and seems to have an endless supply of ever-improving equipment and tactics, and of extremely competent and brave warriors. It was the US Army and the US Marines who chewed up AQ. They annihilated AQ's "foreign fighters" in the streets of Iraq, house by house, block by block.  AQ never recovered from its direct challenge to the US military, anymore than did the Viet Cong 40 years before. About a year ago, the SEALS even put down AQ's "spiritual" leader and Grand Poohbah, the Viagra-ingesting, scrofulous degenerate Osama bin-Ladin. A steady succession of AQ "number 2s," and affiliate leaders in Yemen, Indonesia, Pakistan, and elsewhere have joined the old buzzard. Even in once hopeless Somalia the jihadis are on the run.

We have not done this alone, by any means. I hope one day Americans will learn about the invaluable assistance from our friends around the world, friends such as the British and the Canadians, both of whom have taken huge losses in the war, the Australians (for whom I have a special place in my heart), the Israelis, and others we do not normally associate with the war on terror, e.g., Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Poland, Jordan, Germany, and, yes, France.

The victory is made all the more special by the fact that our current President never believed we could win, never supported the effort, and came into office pledging in essence to dismantle its machinery. He wanted civilian trials for the terrorists; promised to close Guantanamo, and demilitarize the effort. Even the term "war on terror" was banned in official publications.  We have, however, in this case, the good fortune that President Obama is as cynical as they come.  He realized that those pledges were electoral losers. He did not close Guantanamo, and, in fact, in his typically cynical "Chicago way" of politics decided to get around the legal issues and niceties of prisoners by not taking any. Incinerate do not incarcerate. As noted before, he decided to ramp up the drone war and to order death for terrorists, even those with US passports, at a rate that the left would never have tolerated with the evil Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis.

The war is not over. Terrorists remain out there, still plotting, and they most likely will have some isolated successes, probably against civilian targets. The big issue, however, has been decided. The West and its values cannot be defeated by the jihadis. Only we can do that to ourselves.

8 comments:

  1. I am very happy to see someone besides myself who knows that the Viet Cong was not only very badly beaten in the 1968 TET fight, but essentially ceased to exist as a military organization. The NVN had to completely take over or give up the effort. This from a Vietnam veteran.

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  2. Yes, Tet was a major US victory. The VC ceased to exist as a viable military force after Tet. That, however, is not the popular conception.

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  3. I'll second the above comment. I'm glad to see someone utter the truth about Tet. It's about time that history begins to reflectthe truth. By the way, a suggestion for a great book to read on the topic is "A better War" by Louis Sorley.

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  4. "Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw.

    It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.

    But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." (January 31, 1968)

    Thank you, Walter Cronkite, for rendering senseless the loss of American blood, for the slaughter of South Vietnamese and Cambodians upon our leaving, and for the annihilation of honor, morale, and US political legitimacy ever since your blatantly biased, self-defeating assessment of "the way it was" at Tet.

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  5. Perhaps we are winning against the current batch of jihadis. But, are we winning against their ideology? Islamism is spreading by non-violent means such as immigration. Neither President Bush nor President Obama would discuss the ideology that we are up against, only the tactic (terrorism). And then there is the worry of a future nuclear Iran giving WMD to terrorists. That would be a big "win" for them, to disable an American city or to cripple Israel. And it is not out of the question. Diplomad, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how to deal with the Iran issue.

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  6. At the risk of projecting my sense of gloom on the body politic, let me express the reasons for my concern. Yes, we are killing jihadis, in job lots I suspect, and doing a historically unprecedented job of not killing those who are not actively under arms against us while doing so. My concern is for the health of Western Civilization. Were it healthy, this would be a straightforward exercise in pest control. The great expense and effort (hobbling ourselves with insane RoE's and excessive cultural sensitivity towards the contemptible) we accept to achieve these concrete but modest successes are a symptom, I think. We are not healthy, and so this borders on an existential threat -- not because the jihadis can physically destroy us, but because we may very well lose the will to fight or abandon through over-reaction the concepts of freedom that make Western Civilization a thing worth fighting for. They are the infection that is nothing to a healthy man and life-threatening to the frail.

    I desperately want to be wrong. I do not want to be forced to conclude we are frail enough for the jihadis to lay us low because enemies domestic had already ravaged us.

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  7. This may be too late to garner a response, but since I just found one of my old favorites again, and I have something to add to this discussion, I wanted to add my two cents.

    I think we've arrived at a GWOT intermission, not a victory. This is a generational war. AQ 1.0 is on the ropes, and the affiliates are still getting their act together. But there's lots of ungoverned space out there, places that look a lot like Afghanistan in the late 1980s. Mali and the rest of North Africa and the Sahel, Nigeria. Hell, all of the northern half of Africa. There's Egypt, Syria, Iraq now that we've bugged out, and there lots and lots of areas in South and Central Asia that will be awfully welcoming to jihadi forces once they're seen as the Strong Horse.

    There Laskhar-e-Tayyiba (which looks like an unholy amalgam of Hezbollah and AQ), and there are groups that haven't even formed yet. We may be safe for a few years playing whack-a-mole, but I have the feeling that that won't last. We'll turn inward, or focus on some other issue, and our enemies will coordinate, plan, and attack.

    We've done a lot of good, and killed a lot of the right people. But we've killed thousands, when we have to defeat millions. We'll see smoking holes in the ground again within the decade, I'm sure. We'll see horrific plots targeting all the instruments of our national power. We'll see asymmetric attacks against our will and that of our allies. And (going out on a limb here) I think we'll see these bastards finally gain a state that they can use to wage war against the entire world. Not just a state, but a state as a start.

    There's some doom and gloom for you.

    Glad to see you back,

    Colin

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