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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Operation Iraqi Freedom: Just the facts, please

In the middle of life and strife it is necessary to stop and reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it. It is necessary to reflect on context, lest we become reflexive, reacting to the latest issues laid before us and find that we have wandered from the path that leads us to eventual success.

In the case of Iraq and the War on Terror (WOT) we get all tied up in the minutia spouted by the talking heads.

Here is a clear exposition of the geopolitical situation we find ourselves in.

OIF, like Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, is much more than a bid to keep conflicts with terrorists on their turf. It is a determined effort to establish a functional democracy in the heart of a region critical to U.S. interests -- a region ruled by secular and theocratic tyrants who have become state sponsors of the Islamic terror alliance, which declared war on the U.S. and our Allies.

The first round fired against the U.S. homeland in this war was not 11 September 2001.

No sooner had we relaxed our national defense posture as Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Bloc adversaries subsided than our homeland was attacked by a second-tier adversary, radical Islamists.
On 26 February 1993, a terrorist cell headed by al-Qa'ida operative Ramzi Ahmed Yousef (who entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport) bombed Tower One of the World Trade Center in an effort to topple it into Tower Two and murder up to 30,000 occupants of those buildings. Fortunately, due to Ramzi's lack of engineering knowledge about where to park the truck bomb, Tower One withstood the blast.

In 1995, after Ramzi's capture, he was being flown to New York for prosecution. As the transport helicopter passed the WTC towers, an FBI agent removed Ramzi's mask so he could see that the towers were still standing. Ramzi commented gravely, "We are not done yet." Indeed, Ramzi's computer, seized in the Philippines before his arrest in Pakistan, detailed a plan to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as flying bombs against U.S. targets -- which his cadre succeeded in doing on 9/11.

For eight long years after the first WTC bombing, the Clinton administration refused to take the domestic terrorist threat seriously enough to make deterrence a priority. Eight months into George Bush's first term, it became resoundingly clear that a small terrorist cell armed with nothing more than box cutters could, in a matter of minutes, kill thousands of Americans and cause in excess of $250 billion in damages to the U.S. economy.

The 9/11 attack demonstrated that not only are there Islamist factions intent on the wholesale slaughter of Americans on U.S. soil, but that those factions won't hesitate to use the most destructive means at hand. In other words, they will certainly detonate nuclear or radiological devices in U.S. urban centers, given the accessibility to such weapons and an operational capability to deploy them.

President Bush's 2002 NSS recognized this threat, and his 2006 NSS reaffirmed that the best method to deter asymmetric nuclear attacks is to pre-empt them through short-term tactical operations combined with long-term strategic operations. The short-term operations consist of military interdictions in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, to kill terrorists and disrupt their operations. The long-term operations consist of both military and civil actions designed to democratize the Middle East's political and economic culture so that it no longer serves as a breeding ground for our terrorist adversaries.

Clearly, then, while the tactical and strategic operations in Iraq come at great cost, they are absolutely necessary. Indeed, they are the best, if not only, method for preventing an asymmetric nuclear attack on our homeland. However, some national-security analysts now consider such an attack "inevitable" because deterrence operations are a decade late.

Despite enormous progress in our tactical and strategic operations to seed democracy in a region that has known only tyranny for its entire history, the Democrats and their Leftmedia have politicized these operations for one stupefyingly inane purpose: To undermine support for the Bush administration, and thus, Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.

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