Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Strategic View

It seems our Congress, the Media, and the World in general continues to view the “War on Terror” as some sort of political strategy foisted on us by the current administration working in league with the oil companies. Certainly this seems to be the view share by a great many people, especially those in Hollywood (e.g. George Clooney). However, this is simply not the case because the war on terror did not begin on 9/11/01 nor will it end with the establishment of a civilian and secular government in Iraq. In fact, Iraq is simply another battle – or series of battles in the larger war – the Jihad – being conducted by the Muslims. This does not minimize the gravity of the situation in Iraq but it should be put into the same context as the Crusades, the struggle in Spain to displace the Muslims, the Mah’di in Sudan, and the sundry battles and skirmishes that have been fought between Christians and Muslims along their borders since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD. From that time until now the Muslims have been single minded in their pursuit of world domination – that is to convert the entire world to Islam.

Following the death of Muhammad Islam swept across the Middle East and North Africa in an explosive growth but it ran headlong into the Eastern Roman Empire. At the time, the Western Roman Empire was in a shambles. Rome had been sacked, there was no central government or authority and the barbarians were gleefully destroying every vestige of Roman power. The surviving Eastern Empire was beset by plots, intrigues, poor communications, and the rising power of the Christian Church. The people under the protection of Constantinople were being taxed at an ever increasing rate and receiving less and less protection and benefit. Against this backdrop the Muslims gave people a choice – the sword or convert to Islam. For most this was not a difficult choice to make. After all Islam accepts the precepts of Judaism and Christianity with the exception that Jesus is viewed as a Prophet of God rather than the Son of God. The Muslims also brought peace and structure to what was becoming an increasingly chaotic situation.

This was the First Jihad which spread Islam across all of North African and into the Iberian Peninsula. The West was still in chaos with small kingdoms, fiefs, and an aristocracy that was essentially a series of warlords vying for power, prestige, and loot. There was little to stop the spread of Islam until Charles Martel – the father of Charlemagne – stopped them at the battle of Tours – celebrated in the poem :The Song of Roland”. However, the pressure on the Eastern Empire was relentless and ultimately the Emperor summoned help from the West and thus the First Crusade was born. Unfortunately the government in Byzantium had not realized that the West had deteriorated to such an extent and the army that came to their aid was bent as much on looting as freeing the Holy Land from the Infidels. Worse the Crusaders were truly barbarians and their conduct and treatment of the Muslims was so barbarous that it is remembered even today. The Crusades never really resolved anything and there the matter sat with various battles and skirmishes continuing off and on until 1492 when the Spaniards defeated the Muslims at the battle of Granada and drove them from Iberia.

During this period of Islamic expansion and growth the Islamic world was beset by its own internal dissentions and factions seeking power. Gradually the Ottoman Turks came to power and with the Second Great Jihad they succeeded in destroying what remained of the Eastern Roman Empire. Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 and the great cathedral of Saint Sophia became a Mosque, which it is to this day. Even though the Ottomans continued their pressure on the West it was an empire rooted in theology and this proved to be its Achilles Heel. While the military continued expanding into Eastern Europe, internally the empire was beset by warring sects and rivalries as each small group proclaimed that it was the “true way of the Prophet”. This fragmentation weakened the Ottomans overall and by the late 1600’s the Venetians had defeated the Ottomans at sea and the Austrians had defeated the Ottomans at the siege of Vienna.

Although the Ottoman Empire remained intact, in reality it gradually fragmented into various Sheikdoms, principalities, and roving tribes – the Arabs. This situation continued up until World War One when the Ottomans – through diplomatic bumbling by England and France – sided with the Germans. Lawrence of Arabia was dispatched to the Middle East where he was very successful in exploiting this internal dissention by turning the Arabs against the Ottomans (Turks).

Although Lawrence made many promises to the Arabs the French and the English never intended to honor any of them and at the end of the War the French and English merrily divided up the Middle East into “spheres of influence” and “countries”. Thus the world witnessed the birth of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Iran, Arabia, et al. In some cases these had historic precedent (e.g. Mesopotamia – now Iraq) and in others (e.g. Jordan), the boundaries were arbitrary. The sheer arrogance of the English and French is breathtaking and it was their actions that reignited the anti-western sentiment and gave birth to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The group that felt most betrayed was the Arabs who were under the control of the House of Saud who had been placed in power by the English. Ironically, the Arabs were not well educated and consisted mostly of nomadic herdsmen. Because the holy cities of Medina and Mecca were on the Arabian Peninsula they fell under the control of the Arabs, who were simple people with a fundamentalist view of Islam – now called Wahhabism.

It is virtually impossible to draw parallels between Islam and Christianity but to gain some perspective on Wahhabism consider that the Sunni’s are similar to the Catholics, the Shi’a similar to protestants, and the Wahhbi’s equivalent to some minor Christian Sect who believe in the absolute literal reading of the Bible. If the teachings of this sect were to gradually spread into the mainstream of Christianity it would be similar to what is happening in Islam. There are two aspects of Wahhabism that have an immediate impact on Christians and Jews in particular and the world in general. The first of these is a virulent hatred of Western Culture which is being used as a scapegoat for the failures that plague the Islamic countries. The blame for these failures in growth, development, and prosperity are being shifted onto the West rather than being accepted as internal failures. This is roughly equivalent to the Germans blaming their economic failures prior to WW II on “the Jews”. The second and more overt problem of Wahhbism is the literal reading of the Qur’an, which calls for the destruction of all Infidels – men, women, and children. This hearkens back to the First Great Jihad when the Byzantines were given the option to convert or die. This is the same option being given today because Wahhabism calls for the complete destruction of anything that is not based on a literal reading of the Qur’an – hence we Muslims killing Muslims. This is the basis for the horrific conduct of the Taliban in Afghanistan, some of the barbarous practices in Saudi Arabia, and oppressive practices of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. It is Wahhabism that gave rise to the new Ali Pasha of Islam (military leader) Osama Bin Laden who is now leading what he calls the “Third Great Jihad”.

However, this War on Terror to the West but the Third Great Jihad to Islam did not begin with the first attack on the World Trade Center or on 9/11. In fact, this actually began in the 1920’s and the first battle began with the fall of the Shah of Iran and the capture of the American Embassy in Teheran. The Shah was an American Ally, a secular Muslim and embarked on a plan to “westernize” Iran. Sadly he misjudged the temper of the Iranians and the extent that Wahhabism had spread through the teachings in the Mosques. The Shah was allied with America and was not strongly anti-Israel. Of course this misjudgment toppled his regime, cost America a valuable ally, and inspired the militant Muslims to occupy the American Embassy. The West lost this battle due to the timidity of President Carter.

President Carter’s inability to react to what was seen as an act of war by everyone on the planet but him and his administration, indicated to the Muslims that America was a paper tiger. With the assumption of power by Khomeini, the Shah’s military was purged and opposition to the fundamentalist regime suppressed. This was the first major battle in the Third Great Jihad and it was a resounding tactical and strategic victory. The Wahhabi’s now had a base of operations funded by the oil wealth of Iran and the first step in the restoration of the Great Caliphate was now complete. The long range plan is to restore the Caliphate, which was formerly based in Baghdad. This plan calls for the overthrow of the secular governments of all countries with a Muslim majority and their replacement with a religious one loyal to the Caliph (i.e. the secular and religious head of Islam). If successful this strategy would result in theocratic governments in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, the Emirates, Kuwait, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Lebanon, Chechnya, Tunisia, Syria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Palestine, and Israel. Beyond that-- and the second phase of the strategy -- would be the overthrow of the governments of Spain, France, Albania, Macedonia, Armenia, and possibly Greece. This strategy was initially successful in Afghanistan and significant inroads were made in Chechnya and Pakistan but the Russians have stymied (so far) the efforts in Chechnya and General Musharraf blocked them in Pakistan by staging a military coup. The Americans aided by a military coalition drove the Taliban from power and are on the way to setting up a moderate Muslim state in Afghanistan.

The strategy of this Third Great Jihad is to infiltrate governments and the military as a prelude to taking over the country. The incumbent secular leadership is either overthrown in a coup or assassinated, but this has not always been successful. Examples of this strategy are the assassination of Sadat and attempts on Hussein in Jordan, Mubarak in Egypt, and Musharraf in Pakistan. Pakistan is a particular target because of their nuclear ability and the military and intelligence services are already infiltrated by Al Qaeda. Strategically Al Qaeda is most likely behind the confrontation in Kashmir between the Muslims and Hindu’s. The target is most likely Musharraf with the hope that the instability in Kashmir will destabilize his position and bring about a coup by pro Al Qaeda Officers.

But the long range strategic plan of Al Qaeda is much more complex and far reaching. It seems to have three objectives. The first objective is to drive the United States out of the Middle East. This objective rests on the assumption that the United States is incapable of bringing its military might to bear for any extended period. Viet Nam is considered an example of this and the current strident voices in Congress and the media are viewed as the precursors for this inevitable withdrawal. The second objective is to gain control of the Middle Eastern oil reserves. This not only would provide Al Qaeda with enormous funds but it would give them a stranglehold on the West – especially Europe. They encourage Americans and the media to believe that we rely on Middle Eastern Oil for survival. This may be true of Europe but it isn’t true of the US. We not only have our own (untapped) reserves but we get substantial amounts of oil from the North Sea. But the perception is sometimes more powerful than the reality and with control of the Middle Easter Oil Al Qaeda could pressure the West to acquiesce in virtually any objective they might set. France in particular is vulnerable because by forcing France to allow greater immigration the Muslim population could increase and effectively convert France into a Muslim state. The third objective is to gain Nuclear weapons. The initial attempt failed in Pakistan but Iran has always been in the pocket of Al Qaeda and without doubt they are pushing hard to develop nuclear weapons. Once this is done – and it appears imminent – they will attempt to destroy Israel. They most probably will attack the US in Iraq and the new Iraqi government if it is viewed as secular.

The wild card here is Israel and the Iranians are well aware of it. Israel has nuclear capability and if attacked with nuclear weapons there is little doubt but that they would retaliate in kind. The US would be unable to prevent this. There is also the possibility that Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike against the Iranian nuclear plants and the US would probably be unable to prevent this as well. Strategically the waters are muddied even further by growing unrest of the Iranian people who are growing tired of the Mullahs – just as the settlements in the New World grew tired of the religious rule of the Puritans. If the Mullahs persist in their strict enforcement of anti-western policies, which is actually a war against western culture – it could eventually bring down the government. The probability of this happening would be greatly increased with a Pro-America secular government in Baghdad.

With even a little reflection and analysis it seems obvious that the current administration has been able to thwart these strategic plans. The Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan. Egypt has finally conducted what appears to be a free election and at the very least Mubarak’s stranglehold has been loosened. Pakistan is cooperating with the US and gradually driving out the Al Qaeda sympathizers. Pakistan and India seem to be moving to an accommodation relative to Kashmir. Yemen has been more cooperative and has actually tried and executed some of the Al Qaeda militants. The insurgents are steadily losing ground in Iraq and a secular government looms on the horizon. Al Qaeda has lost their base in Afghanistan and have been forced back into Iran but the Iranians are under increasing pressure from the UN. Essentially the administration has placed the UN into a “put up or shut up” situation relative to Iran and Al Qaeda.

These successes have not gone unnoticed by Al Qaeda and they have been actively lobbying in the UN and have launched counter strategies. The UN is dominated by countries with significant Muslim populations or countries (e.g. France) who are opposed to the US and resist any action by the UN that might threaten Al Qaeda’s strategy. Al Qaeda has also launched counter strikes in the form of terror attacks in Spain and England in an effort to separate America from our allies. This worked in Spain but has not worked in England although it has weakened Tony Blair. Then Al Qaeda is behind or at least supporting the various anti-war demonstrations both here and abroad. It is unlikely that these anti-war activists are aware that they are being manipulated by Al Qaeda. They are being motivated by a virulent dislike of the current administration or a sincere belief that war is evil. There is little doubt that these people are being supported by Al Qaeda if not directly certainly indirectly. The objective is drive the US out of Iraq, restore the Taliban in Afghanistan, topple the Saudi Royal House, and to weaken the US militarily and economically.

The historical precedent for this is Europe after WW I. The anti-war crowd gained control of the governments in France and England. The English Parliament disarmed unilaterally over a long period of time in the mistaken belief that in so doing they would not present a threat. In reality by disarming they presented an easy target. The “peace at any price” philosophy dominated Europe and the result was the Germans occupied all of Europe – including the neutral nations – within months. This is the scenario that Al Qaeda is trying to duplicate. So far they have not been successful but they hope to install a more pliable administration in the next election and the extreme left is moving in that direction.

Part of this strategy is to force the US to subordinate our interests to the UN. However, the current administration had signaled the UN that this isn’t going to happen. The appointment of Bolton as UN Ambassador demonstrated that the US is tired of the way the UN is operating. The Oil for Food scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. However, there are many liberals who are ashamed of any national sentiment and sincerely believe we need a global government in the form of the UN. There is little doubt but that Al Qaeda was astonished by the reaction of the American people following 9/11. They had not anticipated how America rallied around the President or the President’s resolve. They attempted to defeat him and were further astonished by his re-election. At this point they are looking forward to the next election and will push for a total withdrawal of American Troops from the Middle East and a return to the UN.

We are engaged in life and death struggle, which appears to be unnoticed by many of our leaders. Too many Americans view this “War of Terror” as an “Oil For America” or a “Bush War for Haliburton” which is a view being pushed by Al Qaeda. The reality is this is a war of survival and it is at its base a religious war with no quarter asked or given. It is quite probable that this war will go on for years possibly a hundred years or more. From the perspective of the Muslims this is simply an extension to their struggle (Jihad) that has been going on for over thousand years already. However, the weapons technology has now progressed to the point to where an end point could be realized. We cannot falter now – we must press on – regardless of the cost.