Message From Dr. Walid Phares
Subject: [alcoalition] Voting Against Jihad (Part Two)
Sent: October 29, 2004 5:26:12 AM
This is the second and last part of my essay summing up the War on Terror and in Iraq at few days from the US elections. I tried to clarify benchmarks and equations, as a way to enlighten my readers. I offered remarks, and they would decide who to vote for. The two parts of the essay are being published as a white paper and summaries were submitted to a number of publications nationwide.
VOTING AGAINST JIHAD (II)
Senator Kerry is a serious politician. He is a powerful debater with a long experience. I can identify with him in his young years: Long haired revolutionary, not intimidated, protesting perceived injustices. Volunteers to fight in Vietnam, then came back and fought a political war against the U.S. intervention. He was a typical progressive leader, with a great sense of standing for the weak and the disadvantaged.
On the wrong side of History?
In my high school and college years, I was very active in intellectual and political struggles. Hence, I can identify with his inner-world. But, regardless of elections, I believe he is on the wrong side of the historical moment. Although I wasn't here to judge the popular feeling in America during the Vietnam War, I saw firsthand the "allies" he longed for Peace with: The Baathists of Syria and Iraq, allies of the Soviet Union, backers of the North Vietnamese Communists.
People from the once oppressed Central and Eastern Europe and immigrants from the Middle East see history differently then Kerry's ideological inspirors. Struggling for freedom is to stand with the workers of Lesh Valesa, follow Vaclav Havel, support the dissidents of the Soviet Union, and understand the sufferings of the blacks in Sudan, the Kurds of Iraq, the Christians of the Middle East and Muslim women under the Wahabis. Hence, while his service is to be recognized on the personal level, the Vietnam Factor in Kerry's resume is null or negative in this case.
Four months in the battlefield in Indo-China, back in the 1960s, and politically opposing the resistance to Communist dictatorship, cannot fit with leading a war against worldwide Jihadism in the 21st century. There is no link at all. Moreover, waging a political war against assisting peoples under a totalitarian threat is rather problematic. People who have experienced oppression before cannot endorse such a policy.
Iraqi-Americans today, as well as Americans from Lebanese, Syrian, Sudanese and other backgrounds cannot comprehend how the Senator, and particularly his intellectuals on campuses, opposes the principle of removing Saddam Hussein, before the war, during the war, or at anytime later. There are no arguments that can meet the horror of such a regime.
My reading of his platform differs from others who select between two parties. I see the good values in him and I know where he would fit in the historical order of conflicts and struggles. Many of his slogans are excellent: his fighting against wars, corruption, and for justice are good things, but his advisors put him against history not along side its tide.
Because of the academic flaw produced by his elites, he finds himself against American instincts after 9/11 and facing the hopes and dreams of most oppressed peoples in the Middle East and beyond. The problem is so deep and complex that we can find mothers in several spots of the underdog communities overseas, praying for the success of President Bush, instead.
Had I been a student in Tehran, I would have voted for Senator Kerry against Khamenei. I would have voted for him, without hesitation, if the Senator would have been running in Syria against Bashar Assad, or in Sudan against Bashir, and even in France against Chirac. He would have been a hero to many. Had he been calling for justice on Saudi or Chinese campuses. Unfortunately, his potential key advisors are the architects of this anti-historical agenda.
It is important to realize that the teams preparing for his Presidency are from the same school which caused past disasters. The same teachers that told the Clinton Administration that Saddam wasn't a threat and that dismissed al Qaida's threats as a myth.
Anyone who understands the nature of the Jihad threat and of totalitarian regimes would fear a U.S. Administration, whose State Department and other agencies would be led by those who engineered the policies of the 1990s. Unfortunately it is the fact today. I have understood the messages coming from the various potential candidates since before the War in Iraq. But I have waited till the very last week before informing my readers of the real challenge ahead.
Experience against Jihad
President Bush is lesser of a debater than Senator Kerry. He may not have an equal knowledge of world cultures than his opponent, at least by 2000. Measuring both men as professional politicians in absolute terms would probably put Kerry ahead, but that would be without counting reality and the choices made. One major reality, one that cannot be changed, is the comparison of their experiences in confronting the greater enemies. Senator Kerry fought as a Navy officer, in a mostly land war, decades ago, against a non-Jihadist enemy, during the Cold War. And that for few months, just before he actually opposed that war.
George Bush will have been commander-of-chief of the U.S.at War from September 11 until at least January 20, 2004. With mistakes (even if significant) aside, caused mostly by opponents within the Administration, the President has led a War in Afghanistan against the nest of Jihadism, declared a counter-war on al Qaida, and removed a Baa'thist regime in Iraq that should have been defeated by his father and President Clinton
Advisors racing backward
Senator Kerry's advisors opposes the philosophy of the Patriot Act, they believe that that removing Saddam (unless the entire world, including the other dictators decides so) was wrong, and that international relations with regimes are more important then rescuing innocent populations in distress.
Senator Kerry and his allies believe the anti-Jihadist Government of Iyad Allawi, and all the civil society it represent, are "American stooges." So who represents the Iraqi people then? al Zarqawi, al Sadr, or Saddam? The choice here is between a policy that wants to succeed and one that doesn't.
THE BATTLE OF THE ARGUMENTS
The battle of the arguments is a clear laboratory of enlightenment.
Stay in Afghanistan?
The Kerry campaign says we should have stayed in Afghanistan until Osama Bin Laden would have been found or killed. But would Usama play the same game with us? So if we had sent 200,000 soldiers to the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan that would have won the War on Terrorism? What if Bin Laden would have simply decided to leave this huge Hannibal Army exploring caves and valleys while al Qaida would have been hitting us elsewhere? How can the Kerry advisors project that al Qaida will be sitting ducks for our forces beyond Tora Bora? Have they read the thinking and tactics of al Qaida at all?
These arguments alone show that a potential Kerry foreign policy team will be defeated by the Terrorist Network as it was in the 1990s under Clinton. Arguing about the choice of Iraq as the next choice after Afghanistan is legitimate. Arguing for stopping at Tora Bora and searching for "Waldo" is an illogical and dangerous proposition.
Iraq: a Diversion?
Kerry's teams have called the War in Iraq a diversion from the War on Terrorism. But what is the War on Terrorism? Is it just to find cells in Tora Bora and elsewhere and bring them to justice? Or is it a wider campaign to find and destroy the factory that produces the cells? My question to the advisors is simple: What is the War on Terrorism? You must first explain the global War on Terror so that you can argue that Iraq was and is a "diversion" from your better plan? There is none.
So, it boils down to this equation: Bush teams had a plan, which can be discussed and argued with and against. The fact is Kerry has no plans, except to attack Bush's decision to go to Iraq.¬ In deeper analysis, Kerry's argument that Iraq is a diversion from the War on Terror is a greater diversion from the real War on the Factory of Jihad. In my sense, there were five doors to open after Tora Bora. Bush opened one. He could have also opened others. But Kerry and the critics didn't want to open any door at all.
Saddam is not threat?
They said Saddam had no weapons to threaten us yet. Indeed, in March of 2003 he had no ballistic missiles installed in Cuba yet. But the word "yet" is the key here. Saddam had WMDs before and should have been removed then. He used these weapons in Halabja against the Kurds and should have been sanctioned then. By any standard of analysis, his regime should have been removed by the United Nations then or by any willing coalition at the earliest opportunity.
Unfortunately, Bush Senior was stopped by his own allies. Clinton's advisors, the ones behind Kerry, stopped the U.S. from a regime change in Baghdad for a whole decade. Hence when the Bush "W" Administration decided to remove Saddam, it was a late late decision historically, but vital for the Iraqi people, the Middle East and the international security. Kerry's academics and analysts haven't absorbed the greater realities of the Baa'thist regime.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration didn't detail the story further. Saddam's regime had built a network of support among radical groups as far as Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, Lebanon and the Palestinian radicals. With past use of WMDs, and his strategic intention of rebuilding and re-using, he was by far more dangerous than Colonel Cedras in Haiti or even Milosevitch in Yugoslavia.
No connection to al Qaida?
Kerry's analysts said Saddam's regime has no connection whatsoever to al Qaida. Well, campaigns sometimes stretch facts a little bit to score, politically. But bulldozing history backward so that an argument is made is a grave historical sin. The Bush Administration evaluation of these connections may have not been accurate, but the Kerry assertions are out of touch with reality. The choice of words killed the Kerry argument, which otherwise would have been acceptable for a debate.
Unfortunately, the all or nothing argument about the Saddam-al Qaida connection was discredited because, obviously, there were contacts between these two entities. Furthermore, there were contacts between other regimes and elements of al Qaida, to start with past U.S training and knowledge of the Jihadists activities. The Saudi Kingdom services had contacts, so did the Pakistanis and, obviously the Sudanese. To claim that Saddam's services ignored the Jihadists and have never sat with them to sip coffee is a sign of academic perversion. It is simple knowledge in the Arab world that Baghdad's services were in contact with the Jihadi elements, including those who will be part of al Qaida, and were exchanging expertise as to fight the U.S.
Critics claim that al Zarqawi was in the Kurdish areas, not in Baghdad. Well, certainly so, because Saddam wanted to infiltrate and undermine the Kurdish areas under the no-fly zone, not his own regime. That argument, alone, is indicative of the connection. Besides Usama Bin Laden with his own voice- announced the "convergence of interest" as late at February 2003 in an audio tape aired on al Jazeera.
Mass Graves not a case for intervention?
Most importantly, Kerry's advisors ignore the essence of the Iraq campaign: the genocidal achievement of Saddam. While always on TV to detail the "Clinton Crusades" in Bosnia and Kosovo, Kerry's spokespersons are strangely silent when it is about the Shiites mass graves, or the massacres of the blacks of Sudan. The pro-Kerry intellectuals do not consider the mass murder of more than 400,000 Arab Muslim Shiites, the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Kurds and Christian Assyro-Chaldeans as a case for intervention. Very strange.
Statistics of death are ugly, but they count in political analysis. When Milosevich's forces were held responsible for the killing of about 2,000 Kosovars, the Clinton advisors and policy planning people rushed to mobilize the world, and rightly so. But during the same decade, sometimes in the same year, Saddam's Fedayins were executing ten times these numbers in southern or northern Iraq.
Kerry's foreign policy people have kept silent and opposed regime change in Baghdad. The silence of the 1990s is responsible for the ethnocide committed by Saddam. Intervening in Iraq was warranted since 1991, it was needed and legitimate in the 1990s, it was late when it happened in 2003. If any criticism should be leveled against US policy, it is the fact that it abandoned the Iraqi people for too long. Hence, to claim that regime change in Iraq is not legitimate -at anytime possible- is equivalent to legitimize the genocide of its people.
Another myth advanced in the national debate by experts in international relations, and used by the Kerry campaign, is that the President ignored the world, marched alone and refused to build the largest international alliance before he engaged in a War in Iraq. As a slogan outside geopolitics, it is a fair statement. If you can muster an alliance, why to go alone? But when you apply reality, the slogan melts away. It should have been clarified to the public that international alliances are tools not objectives. If the goal is to remove Saddam Hussein, the coalition will widen as much as other Governments are willing to perform this action.
Back in 1991, the greatest coalition ever was assembled against Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. France was fighting, Germany was supportive, Saudi Arabia was marching and even Syria had sided with Washington. What more one could dream of? But as soon as allied forces kicked the Baathist army out of Kuwait and crossed into Southern Iraq, our own allies in this greater coalition pressured us not to continue to Baghdad. Neither Riyadh nor Paris wanted a regime change.
For coalitions in international relations are about an issue not about a theoretical construction or a diplomatic club. Hence, when the US strategic decision was to crumble the Baa'th in Iraq, one would build the largest coalition possible to stay the course of removing him, not a much wider one to lose the initial focus. In plain English, the coalition of the willing can achieve goals, while the alliance of the unwilling defeats them.
Al Qaida's threat was not perceived
The most ironic argument I've heard, including during the 9/11 commission hearings was that the Bush Administration failed to see the threat and to prepare for it. Richard Clarke, who served under three Administrations, blasted his Government for not declaring war on August 6, 2001, when he rushed with a memo warning from a possibility "that some one may use planes to hit building." But Mr. Clarke found it normal that in February 1998, three years before, the commander of al Qaida declared war against the U.S. and vowed to kill millions of Americans, while no one in the previous White House lifted a finger.
And when al Qaida blasted two embassies in Africa, Clarke, the former czar of intelligence, said removing the Taliban then would have "created complications in international relations." The Clinton-Kerry advisors told the 9/11 Commission that Terrorism was under check until January 2001 then accordingly the new (Bush) Administration simply blew it up. Historical reality is just the opposite: The Jihadists moved against the U.S. as of 1992 and kept marching and pounding without any significant counter-offensive. During the 9/11 hearings, former officials including the Terror Czar Clarke, former Secretary of State Albright and former Secretary of Defense Cohen weren't able to determine when Al Qaida was born, and if it was a threat of a national dimension.
Is Homeland Security a nuisance?
While one must admit that both candidates stress the importance of Homeland Security above all other matters, the Kerry advisors and allies approach it as an exception to be contained, rather than an institution to defeat the Terrorists' ideology. As someone who reviewed literature pertaining to terror cases in the U.S., on behalf of the U.S. Government, I saw how significant this present and future danger is: A whole generation of al Qaida activists are in the making within our country. It is detected in the material available to novices in all forms possible from books, audiotapes to internet web sites. Sadly, many politicians close to Senator Kerry want to reverse the Patriot Act, the only available tool to combat terrorism for now.
I would suggest a more powerful legislation that would target the terrorists and protect civil rights. But Kerry‚s legal advisors wish to undue the Patriot Act, hence protecting the ideology that produces violence. Even with the current legislation, judges and courts are barely able to define terror and the ideologies behind it. Juries have no standards to use. If there is one realm where the terrorists can¬ win, it is their perception that the U.S. legal system can't try them properly. Unfortunately, while the Bush Administration needs to do better and more in a second term, a Kerry Administration will indeed, dismantle the last legal shield.¬
No return to September 10
One of the most telling statements of the Kerry campaign and allies is their promise to bring America back to September 10, 2001, when terrorism was a so-called "nuisance." Such thinking is indicative of a major difference between the camp that was awoken by 9/11 and the one that is still asleep. The dividing line is not between the two parties, but across them. In simple terms, there is no return to pre-9/11.
Some editorialists in the mainstream media fumed at the President when he stated that the U.S. is not going back to pre-September 11. One of them raged at the idea. He said the objective should be to return to that era. In historical reality, there won't be a return to 9/11, nor to the days before. Everything has simply changed. I, for instance, long for a day where the threats from before 9/11 will recess so that no gloomy days ever return. What was before that date led to it: So I wouldn't want to go back to a dormant, irresponsible America, but to a peaceful one, aware of the world's realities.
Are we winning?
If you are mistaken on the premises of the War on Terror, you wouldn't be able to know if you are winning or losing. You would be winning, only if you know how to measure that progress. By the critics‚ standards, every explosion in Iraq, every hostage executed, every casualty, are indications of defeat. Many measure success in the War on Terror with the silence on the fronts, a chilling reminder of the pre-9/11 era. Because it seemed calm, analysts believed it was peaceful. If it is violent, they would qualify it of failure.
But when you wage a war on the terrorists, would you expect them to take a leave of absence? Winning is measured by the global results, not the clashes on the frontlines otherwise Normandy and the Ardennes would have been massive defeats in 1944. Al Qaida didn't crumble the U.S. on 9/11; the Taliban were removed and the Jihadists world activities under pressure, the Saddam regime destroyed and the battles are taking place in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq, not in Manhattan or in Marseilles.
Millions of Americans are mobilized in this war, despite the arguments of the old political establishment. And more Middle Easterners are fighting the Jihadists. Is the war being lost or won? If we stay the course, it will be won. If we don't, it could be lost. The most important matter now, is that it should be fought, not halted, global, not diverted into police fetching
My tiny contribution to the democratic process in this country, is to share views so that this generation and future ones will get an additional chance for a better life. If we wish to see all our children living in peace, including the unborn, the War against Terrorism must be won. If we wish to protect the great socio-economic achievements of generations of Americans, see progress and witness the enhancement of human rights around the World, we must allow the policies of democracy to develop in the Middle East.
I do respect Senator Kerry for his commitment to public life and service, and I know that many will grant him their vote for the Presidency, for different reasons. I know also that many more will grant their vote to President Bush for another term, based on their global and final evaluation. But regardless of my views expressed in these reflections on War and Peace, on vision and choices, at the end of the day, Americans must attend their duty and vote. I hope some readers would profit from my remarks. And whatever happens on November 2, 2004, the struggle for truth will continue
****Dr Walid Phares. Professor of Comparative Politics, Terrorism Analyst.