We meet five years after the initial attack on American soil. However we should note we come together twenty-seven years after what Mark Bowden in Guests of the Ayatollah called “the first battle in America’s war with militant Islam”--the seizure of the American embassy and the 444-day hostage taking of fifty-two Americans in total violation of international law.
We have blocked further attacks on America largely because of the courage and determination of one man, President George W. Bush. As I wrote in October 2004, faced with the deliberate and horrific attacks on 9/11, President Bush instinctively understood that this was a war.
He demonstrated his courage by taking that war to al Qaeda to protect the American people. Despite opposition from confused and reluctant bureaucrats and politicians, he acted. That decision was the decisive break with the terrorism-as-a-criminal-act strategy and in direct contrast to the terrorism-as-a-nuisance mindset held by many.
Today, because of President Bush’s courage, there are no terrorist training camps in Afghanistan threatening Americans. Liberated from the Taliban, the Afghan people, for the first time in their history, freely elected their president. In a country where just a few short years ago women had no civil rights, women cast 43 percent of the votes.
Defining the Threat
Despite the president’s best efforts, we must confront five big facts on this fifth anniversary.
First, the threat is mortal, direct, and immediate. In the age of nuclear and biological weapons, even a few hateful people can do more damage than Adolf Hitler did in the Second World War. The loss of two or three American cities to nuclear weapons is a real threat. The loss of hundreds of thousands or millions to a biological attack is a real threat.
Second, the threat is global in nature and involves increasing cooperation among an emerging anti-American coalition. This is an emerging third world war, and any look at the active players and the centers of violence indicates just how worldwide it is. North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons are potential assets for Iran, which is increasingly an ally of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. If you simply mark on the map every place where there are acts of terrorism or dictatorships actively engaged in strengthening themselves for a possible future confrontation with the United States, you will unavoidably see how worldwide this threat is.
Third, our enemies are increasingly confident and increasingly direct and clear in their statements of what they intend to do to defeat us.
Fourth, despite these clear facts there is great confusion among our elites and in the news media, and therefore among the American people. Changing this is vital to the successful prosecution of the war. The key in this conflict, in military terms the center of gravity, is the American people and secondarily all the free people of the world. We as a people have to decide whether our survival is at stake, and then we have to decide if that survival is worth the price.
Fifth, if the threat is truly this great then we have to confront the fact that while much has been accomplished in the last five years, much more must be done if we are to win. Time is not on our side. We must confront the reality that we are not where we wanted to be nor where we need to be. We have not captured Osama bin Laden. We have not defeated the Taliban in its sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan. We have not stopped the recruitment of young fanatics into terrorism. We have not stopped either the Iranian or North Korean nuclear programs. We do not have a stable democratic Pakistan capable of securing its own nuclear weapons. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is stable and secure. The United Nations is unreformed, and we have failed to convince the people of America and of our fellow democracies of the correctness and necessity of what we are doing. We do not yet understand the meaning and relevance for today of President Abraham Lincoln’s warning during the Civil War:
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present . . . As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country. (Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862)
We have vastly more to do than we have even begun to imagine.
As we walk through a number of facts and propositions, I hope you will keep coming back to these five points. Either they are valid and require action on our part or they are not. That is the heart of my proposition on this fifth anniversary.
We face a mortal threat which could shatter our freedoms. This creates a new situation so frightening that most American leaders simply do not want to think through its implications.
Consider this question: are our enemies prepared to kill us? The evidence from before 9/11 through yesterday seems to be stunningly clear. They are not only willing to kill us; they are willing to die themselves in order to kill us. Indeed they revel in the martyrdom of killing us.
Consider six cases of their eagerness to kill us.
First, the London Telegraph reports that “a husband and wife arrested in the British terror raids allegedly planned to take their six-month-old baby on a mid-air suicide mission.” Scotland Yard police quizzed the suspects over suspicions they were going to use the baby’s milk bottle to hide a liquid bomb. Imagine an enemy willing to kill their own six-month-old baby as long as we die too. It is the very horror which makes it difficult for most civilized people to understand the depth of our enemies’ ferocity.
Second, consider the discourse on death, delivered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current leader of the Iranian dictatorship: “Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity. Those who wish to undermine this principle undermine the foundations of our independence and national security. They undermine the foundation of our eternity.” And this is a man some would trust with nuclear weapons.
Third, Iranian television on October 28, 2005, broadcast an animated movie for children designed to recruit them to be suicide bombers. Imagine a society which believes that indoctrinating ten-year-olds in the joys of martyrdom is a positive action. That is the kind of enemy we face.
Fourth, as President Bush stated recently, “One detainee held at Guantanamo told a questioner questioning him--he said this: ‘I’ll never forget your face. I will kill you, your brothers, your mother, and sisters.’” This is an enemy we cannot appease and must defeat.
Fifth, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, argued, “The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.”
Finally, Ayman al Zawahiri asserted, “[Al Qaeda has the] right to kill four million Americans--two million of them children--and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.” What is he referring to if not an effort to use weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass death?
The examples could go on and on, but the core message is simple: no reasonable person could believe that our enemies would not use nuclear and biological weapons if they can get them.
That leads to the next logical question: how likely is it that our enemies will find a way to obtain nuclear and biological weapons?
President Bush reported recently on an interrogation program which led to the discovery of an al Qaeda effort to develop anthrax as a weapon and to use it in the United States. Five years later, we have not yet solved the anthrax attacks that began in September 2001. There is every reason to believe our enemies are actively trying to get biological weapons. Imagine if the London subway bombings of a year ago had been biological rather than conventional. The death toll could easily have been in the thousands.
On nuclear weapons there is a general consensus that North Korea has the material for six to twelve nuclear devices. There is no question that Iran lied to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for eighteen years about their nuclear program. The Belgian inspector who had been in charge of the IAEA program in Iran has been open about his belief that they are trying to get an atomic bomb. Pakistan has a lot of nuclear weapons, and while the current dictatorship is favorable to the United States, there is a very strong extremist component of Pakistani society. It is not inconceivable that nuclear weapons could eventually be transferred from Pakistan to other states or to terrorists.
People who are complacent about the danger from nuclear weapons need to reread The 9/11 Commission Report. The commission concluded that “[w]e believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management.”
In the New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote that “[t]he failure to prevent Sept. 11 was not a failure of intelligence or coordination. It was a failure of imagination.” One example of the failure of imagination is the inability of intelligence analysts to look beyond national borders. The reason it is so important to connect the dots of an emerging third world war and to monitor which dictators are visiting each other is because it might lead to a better understanding of the speed with which the threat can emerge. This was a point made by the Rumsfeld Commission on Ballistic Missiles in 1998. There is a commercial world market, and assessing a nation’s capabilities only against its own national capacity can be very misleading.
What is the possibility that North Korea would transfer nuclear capability to Iran? North Korea already sells missile capability to Iran. If the Iranians decide to buy a few bombs, what would inhibit the North Koreans from selling them a few? The United States, Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia all told North Korea it would be unacceptable for them to have a missile test this summer. The regime then deliberately chose our Fourth of July to fire seven missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States. The unacceptable became accepted, as nothing serious was done.
Clearly our enemies are willing to kill us even if they have to die to do so. Clearly our enemies are seeking biological and nuclear weapons so they can kill us in substantial numbers and shatter our freedoms.
The Threats Are Global
Our enemies have to be seen in a global context. It is fundamentally misleading to try to isolate Afghanistan without understanding the role of sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan. It is misleading to try to understand Iraq without understanding the role of resources, sanctuaries, and leadership in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. It is impossible to understand the role of Hezbollah in South Lebanon without examining the resources and support from Iran and Syria. Hugo Chávez has been in more than a dozen countries in the last few months. He is actively seeking an anti-American seat on the UN Security Council. He and Ahmadinejad of Iran will jointly be in Cuba for the meeting of the 116 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement. There is growing collaboration among our enemies, and we have to design global responses to defeat that collaboration.
The British terrorists who planned to attack airplanes this summer had a Pakistani connection and Pakistani training. The scale of Saudi funding for Wahhabist extremism around the world dwarfs the American efforts in communications. For the first time the sharia (essentially medieval law that is very anti-female) is being imposed in parts of Indonesia as a result of this kind of Saudi funded propagation effort.
Unless we see the global patterns in the terrorist efforts and the collaboration among the anti-American dictatorships, we cannot appreciate how great the threat is and how large the challenge of achieving victory will be.
The Threats Are Explicit
As our enemies have taken stock of what America and her allies will and will not do, they have grown bolder. As they have watched the divisive politics in America and the anti-American sentiment in Europe, they have grown bolder. As they have watched the pathetic impotence of the United Nations and the degree to which powerful nations hide behind diplomatic negotiations as an excuse to say a lot but do little, they have grown bolder.
Consider some recent statements for their clarity, boldness, and directness.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the following:
To those who doubt, to those who ask is it possible, or those who do not believe, I say accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible.
Such people are using words like “it’s not possible.” They say how could we have a world without America and Zionism? But you know well that this slogan and goal can be achieved and can definitely be realized.
We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [i.e. the West] and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed:
The world of Islam has been mobilized against America for the past twenty-five years. The peoples call, “death to America.” Who used to say “death to America”? Who, besides the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people, used to say this? Today, everyone says this.
Iran’s stance has always been clear on this ugly phenomenon [i.e., Israel]. We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region.
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani predicted:
If one day, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession--on that day this method of global arrogance would come to an end. This is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.
Hassan Abbassi, Revolutionary Guards intelligence advisor to the Iranian president, asserted:
We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization . . . We must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites, and we know how we are going to attack them.
Osama bin Laden boasted:
The issue is big, and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation.
I say to you that the war will be won either by us or by you. If it’s the former, loss and disgrace will be your lot for all eternity, and, Allah be praised, this is the way the wind is blowing. If it is the latter, you should read the history [books]. We are a nation that does not remain silent over injustice, and we seek blood vengeance all life long. Not [many] days and nights will pass before we take blood vengeance, like we did on 9/11--Allah willing.
Iraqi ayatollah Ahmad Husseini argued:
If the objective circumstances materialize, and subjective there are soldiers, weapons, and money--even if this means using biological, chemical, and bacterial weapons--we will conquer the world, so that “[t]here is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah” will be triumphant over the domes of Moscow, Washington, and Paris.
Chávez has called on Iran to “save the human race, let’s finish off the U.S. empire.”
The Key to Victory: U.S. Public Opinion
It is clear that our enemies are vivid, direct, and unequivocal in their desire to defeat us. That leads to a key question. It is the heart of the dilemma in which we find ourselves. If the war is this serious and difficult, why has it been so hard to create a consensus for defining our enemies, recognizing the threat, establishing a strategy for victory, and committing ourselves to that victory?
This is the heart of our current difficulty. President Bush recently gave a powerful series of speeches on the nature of the threat and our necessary response to it. They are clear, compelling, and factual speeches and worth every American’s reading. Indeed the president should bring them together into a small book available for every American because these speeches communicate powerful facts and outline important goals.
Yet it is clear that much of our elite and much of our news media simply do not accept that we are at great risk. As Mark Steyn has commented, “Ramzi Yousef’s successors make their ambitions as plain as he did: They want to acquire nuclear technology in order to kill even more of us. And, given that free societies tend naturally toward a Katrina mentality of doing nothing until it happens, one morning we will wake up to another day like the ‘day that changed everything.’ September 11 was less ‘a failure of imagination’ than an inability to see that America’s enemies were hiding in plain sight. They still are.”
In a recent Financial Times article, Edward Allen wrote:
Mr. bin Laden, the still uncaptured al-Qaeda leader whose mythical status grows with each video-tape, was candid about his strategy in his 1996 “Declaration of Jihad” and subsequent manifestos, where he repeatedly scoffed at America’s low threshold for pain. In mocking tones, he dismissed the “disgraceful case” of Somalia, where the U.S. pulled troops out in 1993 in the face of al-Qaeda-backed attacks. “When tens of your soldiers were killed in minor battles and one American pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu, you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you,” he wrote. “The extent of your impotence and weakness became very clear.”
If you look at the elite news media of the West and the intensity of pressure building on the Left to leave Iraq at any cost and abandon our allies as rapidly as possible, it is easy to see why our friends abroad are hesitant and our enemies are confident.
Yet it is the understanding and support of the American people which is at the heart of whether or not we can undertake the effort needed for our national security.
The Most Important National Security Debate since 1947
Those who understand the reality of the threat are going to have to do a much more effective job of communicating the facts. Those who seek solutions of weakness and appeasement have to be made to carry the burden of their proposals that would serve to undermine our security and abandon our allies.
The American people do not yet believe their cities and their own lives are at risk. They do not believe that anything truly horrifying could happen.
For the moment the terrorist threat has become an “over there” problem which only impinges on our lives when we go through security at an airport. The very success of the Bush administration in stopping further terrorist attacks after 9/11 has made it possible for people to relax and ignore the threat.
This is the most important debate America has had since President Harry S. Truman began outlining the Cold War in 1947. Imagine that America and Western Europe had rejected Truman’s analysis and that we had failed to implement the Marshall Plan, failed to organize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and failed to develop the Strategic Air Command and the Central Intelligence Agency. A world in which Truman had failed to achieve a bipartisan consensus for stopping the Soviet Union. A world of American failure from 1947 to 1952 would have been a much more dangerous world, and much of Western Europe would have been enslaved behind the Iron Curtain in what President Ronald Reagan came to describe as an evil empire.
Yet in the dialogue with the American people we find ourselves today where Truman was in 1947. The American people had just won the Second World War. We did not want to think about foreign dangers. We did not want to rebuild our military capability. We did not want to stay in Europe.
Yet Truman understood a rule Margaret Thatcher taught our generation: “First you win the argument and then you win the vote.”
The residue of a generation of political correctness has become a moral disarmament in the face of tyranny and savagery that would be hard to believe if we were not witnessing it. The BBC cannot bring itself to describe the recent terrorists as “Muslims.” The New York Times cannot bring itself to stop publishing secrets which help the terrorists escape detection. Reuters sends out doctored pictures which help Hezbollah.
The price of victory in this war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam--the Islamic fascists--may well be first a price of winning an enormous argument in our own society.
The statements of hatred and desire for killing by our enemies have to be driven home everyday. Those who would retreat and withdraw must be made to explain and defend the consequences of their proposals. The full burden of undermining our alliances and strengthening our enemies must be placed on those who would seek peace at the cost of defeat and who would advocate weakness in the face of tyranny and hatred.
The news media has to be held accountable for its biases and its easy assumptions. We are entering a period when those who manipulate the press on behalf of tyranny must be held accountable and confronted directly.
When institutions like Harvard University host tyrants like former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, they have to be openly compared to hosting Goebbels or Himmler in 1937. Our opponents are evil people who seek to achieve evil things, and anyone who offers them hospitality is undermining the freedom and safety of America.
The White House should collect daily the most horrific things being said by our enemies and should post them on a website which would enable every American to understand what our enemies are planning for us. This website does not need any analysis or commentary for the elites to complain about. If you simply gather the most horrifying and destructive statements on a regular basis, the enemy will speak for itself. When possible the pictures and voices should also be posted. The Middle East Media Research Institute is an outstanding place to start, but the White House would be a far more authoritative source, and its resources could create a far more powerful archive of hatred, tyranny, and Islamic fascist despotism.
There is no campaign more important than the campaign for the understanding and support of the American people and the people of our democratic allies. This has been a woefully inadequate effort over the last five years. We are now paying the cost of that inadequacy.
One simple comparison would be to look at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and General George Catlett Marshall’s brilliant use of Oscar-winning director Frank Capra in making the World War II movies Why We Fight. The American people understood the war, understood the enemy, and understood why victory (the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan) was our goal.
Since the scale of skepticism and the depth of utopian isolationism are much greater than during the Second World War, the challenge will be greater. However, we should move forward with the confidence that tragically our enemies are going to help us win the argument. After all, the utopian isolationists were very powerful from 1931 to 1939. They ignored Winston Churchill’s warnings and Roosevelt’s warnings. They were adamant that that the Nazis could be appeased and that the democracies could remain passive and undefended. Hitler gradually disproved their faith in weakness and reasonableness. I am sadly confident that Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Chávez, and Kim Jong Il will also gradually teach our modern utopians that the path of appeasement is a path of defeat and destruction.
The utopian elites suffer from what one psychiatrist has called denial of near-psychotic proportions. There is a danger that this denial could become suicidal when faced with suicide bombers equipped with nuclear and biological weapons. I am convinced that the American people and the people of the other democracies will recognize the reality of those dangers long before our elites and will simply reject and abandon the elites if they refuse to learn.
Translating Public Support into Effective Action
If we can sustain the support of the American people for defending America and defeating the forces of hatred and tyranny, we still have to plan and execute a set of strategies which will turn that popular will into effective action.
It is a simple fact that we are not where we wanted to be.
Unless those who understand the threat can have the courage to transform the institutions which are failing and rethink the strategies which are failing, then we will not win even with the total support of the American people. Implementation is as important as sincerity, and achievement is more important than good intentions.
We find ourselves now where Lincoln was when he sent up the message I cited earlier and warned that “[t]he dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present . . . As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”
Lincoln understood that Bull Run was a defeat, that the Peninsula campaign had not succeeded, that Second Bull Run was a disaster, and that Antietam was a defensive victory wasted by failure to follow up. Lincoln wrote these words at a time when many had come to believe the war was hopeless and the cause could not be won.
As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal on September 7, 2006:
President Bush today finds himself in precisely the same dilemma Lincoln faced 144 years ago. With American survival at stake, he also must choose. His strategies are not wrong, but they are failing. And they are failing for three reasons.
(1) They do not define the scale of the emerging World War III, between the West and the forces of militant Islam, and so they do not outline how difficult the challenge is and how big the effort will have to be.
(2) They do not define victory in this larger war as our goal, and so the energy, resources and intensity needed to win cannot be mobilized.
(3) They do not establish clear metrics of achievement and then replace leaders, bureaucrats and bureaucracies as needed to achieve those goals.
We have to disenthrall ourselves of a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of emotional and mental investment in the actions of the last five years.
We have to recognize that whatever we have accomplished is prelude, and the really intense work is yet to come.
In this context let me outline some of the steps we need to take. These proposals are not listed in a specific order, nor are they inclusive. They are illustrative of the scale of change we need on different fronts.
Step 1: Changes in America
We need absolute control of our borders. This is an imperative for the War on Terror. It will dramatically reduce the drug problem. It will also signal how truly serious we are about national and homeland security.
We must move immediately to create decisive port security, including offshore inspections for potential nuclear devices before ships reach port.
The American people must be involved in a civil defense effort which truly prepares us to minimize casualties in either a nuclear or biological attack. Our Homeland Security response, recovery, and reconstruction capabilities must be radically enhanced from the fiasco of Katrina. The only way to make sure this happens is to test them in full-scale exercises simulating nuclear and biological attacks.
If the firemen and policemen are the first responders, then in Congressman Dave Reichert’s (R-Wash.) phrase the American people are the immediate responders. We need a lot more thought and effort given to prepare the immediate responders for the more dangerous world we are facing.
The White House system for managing national and homeland security has to be dramatically transformed. The interagency process which was essentially developed in the 1950s is now broken. It is hopelessly too slow and too lacking in accountability. An integrated system has to be developed which sets metrics and accountability and which reports to the commander in chief with the clarity that a global battlefield requires. This will not be a minor change but rather a profound reordering of how the system now works.
We have to move to a “one war” model in which everything in a country is done in a coordinated, integrated manner with the same precision and drive in the civilian as in the military agencies. This will require profound change in how the State Department, the Agency for International Development, the Treasury, and a host of civilian departments operate. The current performance of many of these agencies in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan is so bad it should be a national scandal. We over-rely on the military because it is the only competent system we have. This cannot continue if we are to win this war.
A new war budget should be developed from wartime requirements rather than from peacetime constraints. Intelligence and the land forces (Army and Marines) are all under-funded. The defense capital investment accounts are under-funded. The State Department probably needs to increase substantially in size and budget to be effective (along with an overhaul in the Foreign Service and new metrics for measuring State’s performance). Today it is literally impossible to have enough Foreign Service officers available for serious professional training, and the system does not allow assignments on a stable basis for dangerous areas.
In 1949, when there was no war but we were containing the Soviet Union, we were spending 7.1 percent of our GDP on national security, with the nonmilitary component half the size of the defense budget because of the Marshall Plan. It was half of all federal spending. In 1955, with no war, we were spending 11.4 percent of our GDP on national security. In 1963, with no major war underway, we were spending 9.8 percent of GDP on national security. The nonmilitary proportion was about 10 percent of the defense spending. In 2006 it is estimated we are spending only 3.8 percent of our GDP on national security even though we have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a global war on terror. The nonmilitary component today is only 8.5 percent of military spending. It would take a 25 percent increase in nonmilitary national security spending to get it to the 10 percent level it was in 1963. It would take an increase in national security spending equal to the entire 2001 national security budget just to get back to the 1949 share of GDP (which was much lower than in either 1955 or 1963). Those who think we currently have a wartime budget simply have no notion of the scale of American war efforts historically. We have a robust peacetime budget while trying to fight three wars and contain four dictatorships. That is a risky formula and makes victory much more difficult.
The National Defense University should become a National Security University, and a national security senior service should be developed which would allow people to move across a range of assignments in the national security field. Jointness does not just apply to the military.
The United States must develop a strategic energy policy which is explicitly aimed at making the Persian Gulf and the dictatorships less wealthy and less important. On September 11, 2001, oil was $23 a barrel. On August 16, 2006, oil was $77 a barrel. Every additional dollar a barrel is worth $930 million a year to Iran and $861 million a year to Venezuela. No wonder Ahmadinejad and Chávez sound so confident. Think of the windfall money they can spend. The confidence of the oil producers is reflected in OPEC’s decision to start their meeting on September 11. Think of the symbolism of the people we have enriched who are also the funders of terrorism deciding to meet on the anniversary of the day when people they funded attacked New York and Washington. We must have a strategy of moving beyond petroleum to a much more diverse and independent system of energy. This requires a strategy fully as intense and funded as a military campaign, and it is an integral part of defeating the forces of Islamic fascism and terror.
We must develop a serious intellectual, educational, and communications strategy. Our efforts to date have been either nonexistent, ineffective, or pathetic. As British prime minister Tony Blair has said:
And so we have a young British-born man of Pakistani origin sitting in front of a television screen saying I will go and kill innocent people because of the oppression of Muslims, when he has been brought up in a country that has given him complete religious freedom and full democratic rights and actually a very good job and standard of living. Now, that warped mind has grown out of a global movement based on a perversion of Islam which we have to confront, and we have to confront it globally. And as I said recently in my L.A. speech, the first way to win a battle is to realize you’re in a battle. That’s part of the trouble: We don’t yet really understand this is a global movement and it requires a global strategy to beat it. One other point--you can’t beat it simply by security or military means. This is an ideological battle. It’s got to be taken out to the enemy. And that’s why I say it’s important for us always to be the ones who have got a political strategy running alongside the military strategy. We should never, ever, whatever the technical difficulties, let the political strategy fall away.
Congress has a real role to play in developing a winning strategy for this war. To quote again from my Wall Street Journal piece on September 7:
Congress should immediately pass the legislation sent by the president yesterday to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision. More broadly, it should pass an act that recognizes that we are entering World War III and serves notice that the U.S. will use all its resources to defeat our enemies--not accommodate, understand or negotiate with them, but defeat them.
Because the threat of losing millions of Americans is real, Congress should hold blunt, no-holds-barred oversight hearings on what is and is not working. Laws should be changed to shift from bureaucratic to entrepreneurial implementation throughout the national security and homeland security elements of government.
Step 2: Changes in Afghanistan
There can be no sanctuaries for the Taliban. If Pakistan cannot police Waziristan then NATO must establish a policy of clearing out any Taliban. It is impossible to win a guerilla war when there is a sanctuary, and the Taliban will gradually destroy the elected government if it is allowed to continue to operate from Pakistan.
The economic aid program has to be totally rethought. The goal has to be to create such good roads, such a profitable pipeline from Central Asia to the ocean, such economic opportunities for the people that heroin cultivation gradually declines. It is inconceivable that Afghanistan can be stabilized as long as one-third of the economy is in criminal money for heroin. The combination of crime and Taliban make the current elected government very insecure. People have to see a better future with a lot more resources and a lot more ties to the modern world market if they are going to support eliminating the illegal one-third of their economy.
Afghanistan is a good place to start imposing a one country-one war fundamental reorganization of the American national security system. The current rules of engagement for the State Department and the Agency for International Development are hopelessly obsolete. We are in a real war in a lot of places, and all of our national institutions need to be in that war. This will require more entrepreneurship and more speed, as well as more resources and more accountability.
Step 3: Changes in Iraq
The number one metric for stopping violent opposition is the number of unemployed young males. Our top goal should be an all out effort to revitalize the Iraqi economy in the next six months. One step would be a White House conference on purchasing in which very large corporations would be asked to begin purchasing modest amounts of light manufacturing from Iraq. This step alone could lead to a 20 percent improvement in the economy. A second step would be to create an Iraqi Civil Conservation Corps and an Iraqi Works Projects Administration and simply get young men working. It is true that there is today no reliable American agency which could implement these plans. That agency should be invented immediately and given the authority to get the job done. The Second World War was won in less time than we have had since 9/11. It is time to start cutting red tape and challenging Congress to recognize that we are in a real war and need to move at the speed of a real war.
The Iraqi security forces--military and police--should be doubled in size. Every doctrine for counterinsurgency indicates that we need a much larger forces-to-bad-guys ratio than we currently have planned. It is time to quit being cheap and prudent and to start drowning our enemies in resources and energy. If we want to be able to turn the country over to the elected Iraqi government, then it has to have a force big enough to defeat all the enemies of the rule of law. We need an offensive military strategy (in concert with a political, diplomatic, and economic strategy) with the required resources to defeat the insurgency, which means the Iraqi people in the contested areas are protected and supported, while the insurgents are isolated.
We still have not had a practical overhaul of intelligence adequate to understand and dominate the Iraqi battlefield. Muqtada al Sadr knows more than we do and knows it faster. We have to establish very tough metrics for intelligence and change the system until they are met.
Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia must be put on notice that they cannot permit the flow of weapons and money and people into Iraq. We must be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to force these three dictatorships to back away from supporting the various enemies of the Iraqi government.
Step 4: Replace the Iranian Dictatorship
It should be clear that as long as the current dictatorship is in power, Iran will remain a mortal threat to the United States. Those who believe this is exaggerated need only consider the effect of two or three Iranian nuclear weapons on American cities. As Michael A. Ledeen pointed out as early as 1979 (before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini even came into power), this is a dictatorship dedicated to Islamic fascism, and it is a mortal threat to our survival.
I oppose a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities because I think it is inadequate. I am for achieving more than a military strike, not less than one.
Our goal has to be to replace the current dictatorship. We should begin with a Reaganite strategy of helping organize every dissident group in Iran, dramatically expanding our information campaign into the country, and applying diplomatic and economic pressure. But we cannot stop there. We certainly have to be prepared to use military force if necessary, but only if these earlier efforts fail.
Under no circumstance can we accept an Iranian dictatorship which openly states it wants to defeat us and which is clearly trying to get nuclear weapons.
This strategy means no more visas for Iranian leaders. They are managers of a regime of terror, torture, murder, and the destruction of the human rights of women, religious minorities, and gays. It is destructive to treat Iranian leaders as legitimate guests. They are our enemies.
This strategy means we should move to sanction Ahmadinejad in the United Nations for threatening to wipe Israel from the face of the earth as a profound violation of the UN charter and other international treaties. Article 2(4) of the UN charter states that “[a]ll Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
It is a sign of the timidity of the democracies that we tolerate a dictator openly calling for the elimination of a country in total violation of the UN charter and then allow him to come to the UN to speak. If we do not stand up against a Holocaust-denying, genocide-
proposing, publicly self-defined enemy of the United States, why should we expect anyone else to do so?
Step 5: Replace the North Korean Dictatorship
Just as with Iran we should make clear that our goal is to replace the regime. The North Korean dictatorship is one of the most vicious on the planet. It has literally shrunk the height of the average North Korean over the last two decades through malnutrition. It has an estimated 200,000 people in gigantic concentration camps. It is a very dangerous regime which in July showed its contempt for the entire world. When the UN Security Council moved against it, the North Koreans rejected the resolution in forty-five minutes, making it the fastest ignored UN resolution in history, according to U.S. ambassador John Bolton. We have been talking with North Korea since 1993, and they have consistently lied to us and violated international agreements and done what they wanted. Our goal should be to help the people of North Korea achieve self-government and have an opportunity to liberate themselves from this terrible dictatorship.
In the immediate future we should have an announced policy of stopping any North Korean ICBM from being launched. This would require a willingness to eliminate the missile on the launch pad while it is being fueled. This is a step advocated by former vice president and former ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale. It is a policy President Bill Clinton’s former secretary of defense Bill Perry has advocated. Our message to the Chinese should be that if they do not want to see us destroying North Korean missiles, they should insist that the North Koreans not put any more on launch pads. There are no prudent circumstances in which we should allow a North Korean missile to be fired without prior inspection.
The United States should announce that any effort by North Korea to ship nuclear weapons or material anywhere will be a casus belli and will lead to the end of the regime. We cannot allow any ambiguity about how seriously we regard the threat of the current North Korean material falling in the hands of terrorists.
Victory Requires Real Change
This is far from a complete list of the changes we need, but it does begin to outline the scale and direction we need to take.
We are in an emerging third world war.
Our enemies are serious, dedicated, and tough.
They mean to kill us and destroy our civilization if they can.
They cooperate with each other in a serious effort to find ways to weaken us, exhaust us, and defeat us.
If the American people and their leaders come to understand these facts they will insist on victory.
As the most successful mobilizer of human creativity in history, there is no inherent reason the United States cannot win this war once we realize we are in it.
Four hundred years ago next May, the first people who spoke English and believed their rights came from God landed in Jamestown.
For four hundred years we have been extending their values and concepts across a continent and to people of every background speaking every language.
We are on the edge of an era of scientific change which will enable the most entrepreneurial country in the world to have an explosion of new productivity, new solutions, new health, and new freedom.
We owe it to those who worked and fought for freedom, safety, and prosperity in the past and to our parents and grandparents who did so much for our lives.
We owe it to our children and our grandchildren who deserve an even safer, freer, and more prosperous American future.
We owe it to our own self-respect.
We who love life and revere freedom will defeat those who love death and seek dictatorship.
We have done it before.
We will do it again.