Why we are winning the War on Terror
Recently, this space was devoted to the question: Are we winning yet? The short answer is: Yes, we are winning and the radical Islamo-fascists are losing.
But let’s step back to examine the War on Terror in a much larger context. Military thinkers divide warfare into three components: Tactics, Strategy and Grand Strategy. Tactics are what our troops use every day to engage the enemy. Trying to zap a terrorist leader with a short-range missile or an artillery barrage would be a tactic. The decision to kick the Taliban out of Afghanistan was a Strategy designed to deprive al Qaeda of its base of operations and training.
What then, is Grand Strategy in the context of the current War on Terror? The decision to engage terrorism both abroad and preemptively is Grand Strategy. The decision to place allied forces on both sides of Iran, i.e., in Afghanistan and Iraq is part of a Grand Strategy. The decision to invade Iraq, depose the dictator Saddam Hussein and facilitate the creation of the Middle East’s first democracy (other than Israel) is Grand Strategy based, presumably, on the Heartland Theory first voiced in 1904 by Sir Halford John Mackinder.
But our Grand Strategy rests mainly on our belief that the culture the radical Islamic terrorists want to force upon the world is fatally flawed and that the values of Western Civilization are better suited to the 21st Century.
So, the corollary to the question: Are we winning yet? is: Why are we winning? And, the answer is: Because we offer humankind the more humane and workable model.
Herodatus (484- circa 429-413 B.C.), arguably the first western historian, said men make war not out of hate and aggression but out of devotion to irreconcilable values, expressed in cultural symbols such as customs, religious beliefs, forms of dress and the like.
Thus, viewed in the context of Grand Strategy, that is what the War on Terror is all about. It is a war between two cultures with irreconcilable values. (Actually the War on Terror is a misnomer because “terror” is merely the tactic used by the Islamo-fascists in aid of their Grand Strategy which is to impose their values upon Western Civilization.)
So, what are these irreconcilable values? While our own radical feminists will take exception, we venerate the role of women in our society. The Virgin Mary is a good example. Increasingly, women are equal partners in our society. In Colorado, for example, more successful corporations are headed by women than men. By contrast, the Islamo-fascists see women as beasts of burden whose role is to do the dirty work the men refuse to do.
Our business model rests on treating everyone fairly, whether blood-related or not. Quite often, we still do business on the handshake of a gentleman’s or lady’s agreement. Our enemies enjoy cheating those not of their immediate family.
We promote the transfer of information. We’ve even named an Age after it. The Mullahs want to be the sole possessors of knowledge. Keeping the Arab-Iranian masses mired in ignorance is their ticket to staying in power.
Hard work is venerated in our society. The Islamo-fascists do not consider it a virtue but the trait of fools who can’t arrange to slip out of it.
Despite the efforts of our some of our trial lawyers to make everyone a victim and, therefore, not responsible for their own folly, we still, in general, value the acceptance of responsibility for our individual and collective failures. The Islamo-fascists need a way to explain the poverty, squalor, disease and short life expectancy endemic to their world. Western Civilization, in general, and the Jews, in particular, are their scapegoats.
We view individual freedom as the greatest good. The Islamo-fascists abhor individual freedom. They see freedom as a threat that must be controlled by theocratic dictatorships.
But Herodatus didn’t get it quite right. We are not only engaged in a war over irreconcilable values, we face a foe who hates our guts.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2004. William Hamilton.