The Right Coast

June 09, 2005
The Real War
By Mike Rappaport

Victor Davis Hanson analyzes the "War on Terror" -- that is, the War Against Islamic Facism -- in one of his best columns:

The three-year-plus war that began on September 11 is the strangest conflict in our history. It is not just that the first day saw the worst attack on American soil since our creation, or that we are publicly pledged to fighting a method — “terror” — rather than the concrete enemy of Islamic fascism that employs it.

Our dilemma is that we have not sought to defeat and humiliate the enemy as much as wean a people from the thrall of Islamic autocracy. That is our challenge, and explains our exasperating strategy of half-measures and apologies — and the inability to articulate exactly whom we are fighting and why.

Most in the Middle East wish simply to embrace the human desire for prosperity, freedom, and security within the umbrella of traditional Muslim society — and will support American efforts if (a) these initiatives seem to be successful, and (b) are not seen as American.

Consequently, the United States has not been able to bring its full arsenal of military assets to the fray. It is nearly impossible to extract the killers from the midst of civilian society. Too much force causes collateral damage and incites religious and nationalist anti-American fervor. Too little power emboldens the fascists and suggests America (e.g., Nixon’s “pitiful, helpless giant”) cannot or will not win the war.

[So] we can continue to pacify Iraq. We then wait and see whether the ripples from the January elections — without further overt American military action into other countries — bring democracy to Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf States, and eventually the entire Middle East. This is the apparent present policy of the administration: talking up democracy, not provoking any who might disagree. It may well work, though such patience requires constant articulation to the American people that we are really in a deadly war when it doesn’t seem to everyone that we are.