by Austin Bay
October 1, 2002
LONDON -- Which war are you fighting? The Bush administrationfights the War on Terror at several levels. U.S. success depends in greatpart on how well the administration integrates and prosecutes these "levelsof war."
At the level of grand strategy, the War on Terror has become a"war of transformation." When the administration speaks of "transforming"the Middle East by replacing autocracies with democracies, thecounter-terror goal is to foster governments that will not tolerate orsupport terrorists. They will in fact police themselves.
Which leads to "the war to remove Saddam." Saddam's regime hasabrogated the U.N. Security Council resolutions that temporarily halted theGulf War of 1991. Sanity and sobriety argue that criminality should haveconsequences. If the U.N. is indeed a source of world order, and not a forumfor graft and kvetching, there must be consequences for a dictatorship thathas failed to comply with Resolution 687 arguably since 1994, definitelysince 1996. Toothless U.N. resolutions are not a source of order
I still believe the United States hopes to remove Saddam via the9mm ballot -- a coup d'etat triggered by intense diplomatic and militarypressure. Sources here in London indicate Mauretania and North Korea mightoffer Saddam asylum. Exile isn't execution (his deserved fate), but itavoids expanded war. Like other psychological gambits, dangling exile couldexert pressure within Saddam's regime. The true soft underbelly of everydictatorship is internal rebellion.
The operational war the Pentagon is preparing to fight -- amilitary campaign that represents the ultimate source of pressure -- is awar that takes Desert Storm up a quantum. It will include multi-axis specialforces and heliborne assaults supported by swarms of precision munitions.
Tony Blair's war is politically complex -- and fascinating.Sure, Blair serves as America's policy bridge to Europe, but his moreimportant role is as Europe's bridge to America. The French are crawfishing,backtracking from last spring's anti-American cant to a position of supportfor U.S.-led action. Blair stresses the many common values shared by alldemocrats, ties that so many of the myopic European and American left-wingacademic and media elites fail to notice, since they are autocrats in theirsouls.
Blair's deft defeat this past weekend of hard left Labor Partybackbenchers barking at his War on Terror policies wasn't so much a war as alesson in political art.
Then there's the war Reps. Jim McDermott and David Bonior arewaging, at the moment via embarrassing phone calls from Baghdad.
These men epitomize that slice of my generation trapped in aterrible quagmire. "Peaceniks" like McDermott and Bonior are still fightingthe Vietnam War, and they are sadly indicative of how peaceniks have morphedinto appeaseniks. Instead of principled Eugene McCarthy's opposing LBJ's Warof Body Counts, they've become Neville Chamberlains -- men who fail tocomprehend radically changed circumstances.
Several astute commentators have picked up on an extraordinaryirony. In the '50s, the American Left disdained President Dwight Eisenhoweras a man whose thinking was shaped by an "old war" -- even though WWII wasonly a dozen years in the past. (And the critics harped despite the factthat Ike had an extraordinary gift for strategic thinking.)
Vietnam is 30 years gone. In the face of global terrorists andproliferating weapons of mass destruction, the lessons the left-wingersthought they learned have become lesions.
McDermott and Bonior come from the same cadre of dodderingarch-lefties who told us the world would go pffft if the Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty were chucked.
The war the ABM Treaty was designed to help deflect was inhistory's dust bin, but McDermott and Bonior's soulmates were still fightingit in 2001.
The Bush administration chucked the ABM Treaty in favor ofmissile defense, much needed in today's strategic circumstances. What wasthe result? A new arms race as predicted by the Left? A war between theUnited States and Russia? With a pish and a tut, their fearmongering diednot with a bang but a whimper.
The complex war responsible Americans began to fight on 9-11 hasradically shifted terms. This new war does demand old virtues -- courage andpersistence being essential. Winning it also means putting ideologicalfossils like McDermott and Bonior into the same political museum as NevilleChamberlain.