No, that is not a contradiction in terms, if I expand on the headline and tell you that I am talking about the War in Iraq and the War on Terror.
With all the debating and posturing going on in Congress over pulling out of Iraq, and when, and under what circumstances, I get the feeling that many of our legislators think that by leaving Iraq we will be done with the War on Terror. Wrong.
To put this into perspective, let me say up front that I support our decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This has nothing to do with all the drivel that has been spewed out of Washington over the weapons of mass destruction.
There may or may not have been WMDs in Iraq in 2003. Prior to the invasion every politician in Washington believed there were and that it was their duty as good testers of the prevailing winds to say they supported overthrowing Saddam - until it actually happened and no one could find the WMDs. And now we have some evidence emerging that perhaps they were there after all, but were spirited away to Syria and Russia. Ho-hum.
Even if that is accurate, it is irrelevant.
Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George Bush promised America that we would hunt down any terrorists who took part in those attacks, and we would view any country that supported them, regardless of whether they actually participated, as enemies of the United States. OK, fine by me.
Well, in 2002, it has now been firmly established, our number one dead terrorist, Abu Al-Zarqawi, was wounded in battle against us in Afghanistan, and made his way to Baghdad, where he was hospitalized for a lengthy period of medical care. Then he was treated to a lengthy recuperation and rehabilitation period.
He was given sanctuary and treatment, and then he was turned loose against us in a country that already was being developed as the next launching point for further terrorist attacks. Since Al Qaeda and the Taliban were getting their heads handed to them by our forces in Afghanistan, they needed a new base for continuing their war, and Iraq was obviously it.
There were terrorist training camps, friendly secret police, even a mock up of a commercial airliner so they could practice hijackings. Oh, did I mention, the director of the hospital where Al-Zarqawi recuperated was Saddam's son.
George Bush brought up the WMDs in his State of the Union address in 2003, in an effort to get more of the world's movers and shakers from the United Nations on our side. Little did he or we know at that time that there was no way the UN Security Council was ever going to side with us on overthrowing Saddam, regardless of how much support he was giving to the terrorists. The big noises on the Security Council had already been bought off with the Oil For Food profits that were supposed to provide sustenance and medical care to Saddam's countrymen.
France, Russia, China and Germany all had sent bag men to the UN where they were bribed handsomely and pledged allegiance to each other, so long as the greenback pipeline was flowing. The UN join in overthrowing Saddam? He was greasing their already greasy palms and all the posturing and pontificating in the world wasn't going to change it.
So we go to Iraq, overthrow Saddam, and then face another challenge, the emergence of the so-called insurgency, a two facet war that includes secularists fighting Sunni Muslims who are fighting Shiite Muslims, who all are being manipulated by outside terrorists who think this is the shortcut to paradise.
Three years later we have nonetheless put the smackdown on the terrorists, helped bring about the first popularly elected democratic government in that country ever, and are nearing the time when we can start bringing our troops home.
But that will not be the end of it. Terrorism isn't dead. Regardless of whether the Iraqis can establish a working coalition dedicated to the concept of one Iraq, regardless of whether their police and armed forces can take the lead in curtailing bombings and sectarian violence, the foreign terrorists will not be done with us as long as they are breathing, and will simply find a new base of operations from which to launch their attacks.
This is already happening. Some have gone back to Afghanistan, hoping presumably, to reestablish past glory days when men were men and women were cloaked from head to foot in burlap sacks. But alas, for them, this is not happening and they are being smashed by coalition troops, Afghanistan Army troops and Afghan police.
However, we would do well to keep an eye on Somalia. The terrorists have succeeded in taking control of Mogadishu, probably the one city and the one country in the world where they can rule simply by force of arms. With no army or police to worry about they can establish new training facilities, do all of their banking in secret, and prepare for the next round of attacks with impunity.
No, it won't be over when it is over. I believe this is a multi-generation war. The current generation of terrorists will have to be completely eliminated, the next will have to be neutralized, and the unborn generation educated to a less violent point of view before we can really start breathing easy. Three generations, sixty years.
And one other thing about these terrorists we are fighting. They weren't educated in prep schools, finishing schools and Ivy League colleges. They are the ultimate street fighters, and their training grounds were gritty streets and alleyways where there were no soft mats to absorb a hard fall, and no one to call time, or award a win on points from hitting an opponent with white striped boxing gloves.
There is no gentlemanly sport about this to a street fighter. There is only winning ... or dying. When a street fighter goes down, even if he temporarily goes out, there is only one thought on his mind when he regains his feet.
It isn't about pain or injuries, and certainly not about congratulating an opponent on winning the day. When a street fighter goes down, if he is not dead, the primary thought on his mind is revenge. How will he get even the next time? What must he change to overcome this enemy?
If you have fought him, and not killed him, he will use the encounter as a classroom into your tactics and mindset. Then he will use what he learned against you.
All of the fighters who are participating in the war against us must die or be totally disabled or they will continue to press the battle against us. No, the war is not over, and won't be regardless of when we leave Iraq. But if we go when the time is right, on our own power, with a new ally behind us, we will have a clear chance at winning.
If we slink away making excuses as we go, the street fighters, even though they have been beaten, will use this as a window into our national character. And the next time they will use new and even more ruthless tactics against us.
Best Quote of the week beginning July 9:
For the second straight week, Brit Hume to Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday, following a panel discussion that included debate on military versus diplomatic responses to North Korean provocations:
"I'm working with the Chinese and the Russians to formulate a response to what Juan just said."
Saturday, July 08, 2006