How the terrorists can win the war
Let's be clear about this.
There is only one way for the terrorists to win the war. The United States must quit. We cannot be defeated by military or economic means. Even a devastating weapon of mass destruction attack on our soil cannot destroy us. We have too many cities, too many people, too much land, too many natural resources. No, the only way to defeat us is to induce us to give up.
Yes, victory will cost us dearly in treasure and in blood. Yes we will make errors along the way, even grievous ones. But the terrorists' only hope is that enough Americans decide the cost of victory is too high. The terrorists cannot win any other way.
But they have hope. The United States has a history of looking the other way or retreating when attacked, as in the Beirut Marine barracks suicide bombing, Somalia, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, and the assassanation attempt on President Bush in Kuwait.
But the terrorists overreached with the 9/11 attacks. Like the Japanese in 1941, they "awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with terrible resolve." Even if those are not really Yamamoto's words, they are a true reflection of what he accomplished.
Yes America was awakened on 9/11 and filled with a terrible resolve. The terrorists were dealt heavy blows in Afganistan and the Horn of Africa and many other places. In elections in Australia, the United States and Afganistan, free people have affirmed their commitment to democracy and liberty over retreat and appeasement.
Today the terrorists face an existential danger. If, like a cancer, democracy can take hold in Iraq, it might metastasize and spread to Iran, Jordan and the rest of the Middle East. As Alberto Abadie's breathtaking study found, terrorism dies out where freedom and stability flourish.
And yet, the terrorists still have hope. How long can America keep its terrible resolve? We also have a sad history of allowing our resolve to weaken and give in to fatigue, isolationism, discord and subversion. Indeed, our defeat in Vietnam was a defeat of political will, not of arms.
Like Ho Chi Minh did before them, the terrorists fight only a holding action with fire and steel. The terrorists' real weapons are video tapes, radical web sites and deluded media. Using or manipulating these tools, they hope to erode our terrible resolve before freedom takes root.
And the tools are sharp. The media's pervasive and unrelenting negative reporting leaves millions of people, including some bloggers, the victims of Media Induced Ignorance. As Melanie Phillips pointed out in her blood chilling speech:
It is this weakness and moral confusion that comprise the great goal of terrorist strategy; it is this that has characterized the west’s response to Islamic terror for many decades; it is this that has brought us to where we are today. In the war that has been declared upon the free world, the western media’s abuse of power is perhaps the most lethal weapon of all.Which brings us to a recent posting by The Poor Man, I'm Not Sure How Many More Corners We Can Stand To Turn (via Michael Bérubé and Rox Populi):
Appreciate this. Understand that the people killing us in Iraq aren't motivated by Gore Vidal or inspired by Susan Sontag or organized by Michael Moore or in cahoots in any way with any of the right's celebrity piñatas - not literally, not metaphorically, not if you look at it in a certain way, not to any infinitesimal degree, not in any sense, not in any way at all. They do not lead a clandestine international conspiracy of Evil which has corrupted everything in every foreign country plus everything in America not owned by loyal Bush Republican apparatchiks; nor are they members of such a conspiracy; nor does a conspiracy remotely matching that description exist. To think otherwise is, literally and to a very great degree, insanity. It is insane.No, the terrorists are not motivated by Michael Moore. And whether the mainstream media, Hollywood, and the intellectual elite are acting in a vast left wing conspiracy or are simply immersed in a postmodern echo chamber is not relevant. The fact is they are pulling in the same direction as the terrorists, the direction of doubt, confusion and ultimately retreat.
So the war is a race, not to kill all the terrorists before they can kill all of us, but to cement freedom and stability before our will to win is worn away.
UPDATE: Atrios takes another swipe at our will to win. Par for the course, it seems.