Are we winning yet?
Are we winning? Or, is al Qaeda losing? The short answers are: Yes, we are winning, and al Qaeda is losing. The situation is more complicated than apparent. But, as long as the United States and its allies remain resolute, the outcome is not in doubt.
Our victories in Afghanistan and Iraq plus the death or capture of two-thirds of the leadership of al Qaeda are readily apparent. Forward progress in Afghanistan and Iraq is steady, but not so readily apparent. So, from our vantage point, we are winning; however, not as readily or as easily as we would like.
But how does our War on Terror look from the vantage point of al Qaeda? None of their strategic objectives have been achieved. In fact, since 9/11, the Islamo-fascists have been, for the most part, in a steady decline.
So, just what were the Islamo-fascists trying to achieve? Was it just to destroy the symbols of American economic and military might? Or, does the war the radical Islamo-fascists have waged on us, both covertly and overtly for two decades, have a larger purpose?
Yes, they have a much larger purpose and that is to take the world back to the time when the Sword of Islam reigned supreme from the borders of India across the Middle East, across what is modern-day Spain and Portugal, across the Balkans and right to the fringes of France and to the gates of Vienna.
Credit France for stopping the Muslim advance into southern Europe at the Battle of Tours in 741, and credit the Viennese for stopping the advance of the Ottoman Muslims across the Balkans at the gates of Vienna in 1529. Since those two dates, the Sword of Islam has been in steady retreat. Not just in retreat, but in a steady economic decline. Were it not for the Arab-Iranian oil states, the followers of Muhammad would be even more impoverished than they are today.
The blame-America-first-crowd notwithstanding, the impoverished status of the majority of Muslims is not our fault. As military strategist Ralph Peters points out so well, Muslim societies suffer from seven characteristics that doom them to be unsuccessful in the 21st Century; most notably, the subjugation of women. Indeed, Islamic states have been in decline during the previous seven centuries.
But stealing our airliners and crashing them into the symbols of our economic and military power will not be sufficient to topple the western democracies and, by default, allow the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate.
No, if you are out of power in a world-wide system of nation-states, then you need to hitch your camel to one or more nation-states if you are to regain power. The logical objective then is to take over one or more of the Muslim oil-producing states – the ones with money.
Saudi Arabia and Iran spring to mind. Iran, with its burgeoning nuclear arms program, is highly attractive to the Islamo-fascists. The oil-rich, but indecisive, Saudi royal family might be toppled.
But the United States and its allies have Iran surrounded on the east in Afghanistan and on the west in Iraq. We have Saudi Arabia boxed in by our presence in Iraq and by our ally Israel to the northwest.
As a result, the Islamo-fascists have yet to achieve any of their strategic goals. No Muslim government has fallen or allowed the Islamo-fascists to take control. In fact, virtually all of the Islamic regimes, except Iran, have become more closely allied with the United States. Despite al Jazeera TV (which is either CNN in Arabic or CNN is al Jazeera in English), the Arab street is relatively quiet.
Yes, we are winning. Yes, the Islamo-fascists are losing. And time is not on their side. Once we invent or find a replacement for Arab-Iranian oil, they will have no money to finance 9/11-type plots or to pay off the families of suicide bombers. All we have to do is stay the course.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2004. William Hamilton.