Skip to comments.Where is the real war against terror?
Posted on 10/24/2001 6:54:50 AM PDT by SJackson
THE REGION: By (October 24) Here's an assessment of the super-crisis, beginning with the United States and moving on to the Palestinians.
The pessimistic reality: To date, terrorists have killed 5,500 people in America and disrupted the US domestically beyond anything coming from an external threat since America achieved independence.
The US response so far has succeeded in destroying the Afghan air force, damaging buildings in deserted terrorist training camps, and increasing the flow of aid to the Afghans.
Washington has also assembled a coalition consisting of Europe, Japan and Uzbekistan, with some help from Oman and grudging assistance from Pakistan. It is pretending that help is also coming from Arab states and Iran, though they are doing virtually nothing to assist.
The cost of this phony support has been US flattery, a willingness to forgive all these countries' previous support for terrorism, and some gestures toward the Palestinians.
The plan for victory: The Defense Department proposes that a combination of bombing and help for the Afghan opposition will bring down the Taliban government before the end of 2002.
At that point, Osama bin Ladin, who masterminded the attack on the US and perhaps the anthrax offensive as well, will be captured, or will have to flee. Afghanistan will no longer be a safe haven for terrorists (who will then have to make do with Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Libya).
While the US government has accepted this strategy, some officials - chiefly in the Defense Department - advocate a Phase Two operation, especially targeting Iraq. Any decision on such a plan, however, will have to await the successful conclusion of Phase One.
For the forseeable future, then, the US will stay focused on Afghanistan, and all other elements of its policy will be subordinated to that end. Many worry that American leaders have still not comprehended the most basic concepts of realpolitik.
As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put it at a New York meeting for Israel's Interdisciplinary Center: First you must decisively defeat your enemies, and only then can you bring those countries to a real conciliation.
In other words, by trying to appease the sponsors and apologists for terrorism in the Middle East, by keeping the focus so narrowly on bin Ladin and his small band and by being more apologetic than threatening, the US will only encourage more misbehavior in the future.
The governing view, however, is that everyone's help - or at least silence - is necessary for a successful coalition.
What is also disturbing about this situation is that those in the administration who favor a tougher line must nevertheless stick to the soft line and prove that it works - by winning in Afghanistan first - before they can even begin to argue for a real antiterrorist war.
In other words, if the current US policy fails to eliminate the Taliban and bin Ladin, any subsequent strategy is more likely to be a worse one, rather than one that shows the US has learned from the experience.
On the (relatively) more positive side, the US is not going to do anything for the Palestinians or put any meaningful pressure on Israel.
Both the American and British statements favoring a Palestinian state are in the context of the Palestinians needing to reach an agreement with Israel first. In short, it doesn't represent much of a policy shift.
LET ME interject a personal experience.
Recently, I had dinner with a well-known Palestinian intellectual, who spent the entire evening complaining in great detail about the Arab states' mistreatment of the Palestinians, citing very specific examples.
At the end, he concluded: "Maybe we're better off with the Israelis."
The next day - at a conference, of course - he provided a totally propagandistic
presentation whose dominant theme was that everything is always Israel's fault.
In a real sense, that performance illustrates the lack of both honesty and pragmatism which has led to this point in Israel-Palestinian relations.
Arafat has once again gone too far and walked off the cliff. His false belief that he could fly has boomeranged on him once again, and it is only a matter of time before he hits the rocks below.
He could have negotiated on the basis of the Camp David or Clinton proposals.
But these were insufficient for him.
He could have seriously kept one of the three cease-fires he promised the Americans and others that he promised Israel.
But even with the Mitchell Commission plan on the table, that was insufficient for him.
He could have used the September 11 attacks on America to crack down on violence close to home and proclaim himself a great antiterror fighter ready to make peace with Israel (if the US got him more concessions to protect its coalition).
But that, too, was insufficient for him.
Now we all know that he will not stop the violence. He will not close down the PFLP. He will not arrest and really punish those responsible for the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister. He will not extradite the killers to Israel.
Only the merest and thinnest pretence of cooperation or moderation (that is, enough to fool the compliant Western media) will come from him.
Consider the remarkably consistent repetition of Arafat's pattern regarding this type of problem:
* In 1970, the PFLP called for King Hussein's overthrow in Jordan and hijacked four planes. Arafat may not have agreed, but he did nothing to counter them. The result: Jordan's army defeated the PLO and expelled it, with tremendous loss of life.
* In 1986, the PFLP assassinated Zafir al-Masri, the mayor of Nablus and an Arafat ally. Arafat swore vengeance, but did nothing.
* In 1991, the small Arab Liberation Front, a PLO member group, launched a failed terrorist attack on Tel Aviv. Arafat refused to denounce it and lost his dialogue with the US.
And, of course, he has broken pledges and ruined the Palestinians' opportunities on many other occasions. He deserves no more chances. The consequences are on his head.
The responsibility is on those Palestinian leaders, too, who did not demand that Arafat act differently. Let history show that the worst enemy of the Palestinian people's interests was not Israel, but Yasser Arafat.
"Washington has also assembled a coalition consisting of Europe, Japan and Uzbekistan, with some help from Oman and grudging assistance from Pakistan. It is pretending that help is also coming from Arab states and Iran, though they are doing virtually nothing to assist. "
The so-called Arab "moderates" and the terrorist poseurs in this stinking "coalition," are a necessary evil. We don't need much from them anyway, in terms of public support. Some logistics and intelligence, and a hesitation to go pan-Islamic against Christendom are sufficient for now.
Make no mistake, this is World War III. The Administration has made it abundantly clear that this war will take years. This goes way beyond Afghanistan. We need this "flexible coalition" (Rumsfeld's words) for now, so that we don't have to fight all of our enemies all at once.
Because Iraq is in the cross-hairs.
Here's what we're dealing with: the very real possibility that Sadaam has far more WMDs here than these little anthrax letters. Those are just a warning. He's probably got smallpox here, we know he's chemical weapons-capable, and no one in our government can say categorically that he or bin Laden doesn't have nukes.
Sadaam is the prize.
Did you see that recent announcement about Iran agreeing to provide rescue operations to any of our airmen shot down in their territory? Read between the lines... were getting limited use of their airspace. That's not for the Afghanistan Campaign... that's to shut the back door on Iraq. During the Gulf War, Bush 41 failed to bring Iran on board and Hussein was able to stash a good chunk of his air force in Iran for the duration of the war, which he later got back. Bush 43 is not repeating that mistake.
Taliban first, then Sadaam. The rest... Syria, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Arafat... those are just clean-up operations compared to this.
We need Israel and Arafat defused, or at least on the back burner, while we take care of bigger problems.
So for now, the appearance of strife between America and Israel serves both of our ends. They deal with the assassination of Ze'evi as they need to, we wag our finger at Sharon and Arafat, the radicals who want to frame this as "Big and Little Satan against the Islamic World" don't get to grind that ax, and the coalition muddles along.
Are the Arabs our friends? No, and they never will be. Arafat's just one of the worst.
But we already knew that.
Let's make use of them while they're useful. Dispatch them when they're not.
Look at the situation with Pakistan... the populace there stinks of Al Qaeda. So we get cozy with them really quick, because of their borders with Iran and Afghanistan... and their nukes. We have to keep the Islamic Bomb from falling into the hands of Hussein or bin Laden.
But that means that we have to keep India at arms length for a while, just like Israel.
But that's the hand we've been dealt, so we play it... Until we can draw a better one.
Take heart. We're leading this "coalition" by the nose...