by Austin Bay
October 1, 2002
LONDON -- Which war are you fighting? The Bush administration
fights the War on Terror at several levels. U.S. success depends in great
part on how well the administration integrates and prosecutes these "levels
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, the
counter-terror goal is to foster governments that will not tolerate or
support terrorists. They will in fact police themselves.
Which leads to "the war to remove Saddam." Saddam's regime has
abrogated the U.N. Security Council resolutions that temporarily halted the
Gulf War of 1991. Sanity and sobriety argue that criminality should have
consequences. If the U.N. is indeed a source of world order, and not a forum
for graft and kvetching, there must be consequences for a dictatorship that
has failed to comply with Resolution 687 arguably since 1994, definitely
since 1996. Toothless U.N. resolutions are not a source of order
I still believe the United States hopes to remove Saddam via the
9mm ballot -- a coup d'etat triggered by intense diplomatic and military
pressure. Sources here in London indicate Mauretania and North Korea might
offer Saddam asylum. Exile isn't execution (his deserved fate), but it
avoids expanded war. Like other psychological gambits, dangling exile could
exert pressure within Saddam's regime. The true soft underbelly of every
dictatorship is internal rebellion.
The operational war the Pentagon is preparing to fight -- a
military campaign that represents the ultimate source of pressure -- is a
war that takes Desert Storm up a quantum. It will include multi-axis special
forces 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 more
important role is as Europe's bridge to America. The French are crawfishing,
backtracking from last spring's anti-American cant to a position of support
for U.S.-led action. Blair stresses the many common values shared by all
democrats, ties that so many of the myopic European and American left-wing
academic and media elites fail to notice, since they are autocrats in their
Blair's deft defeat this past weekend of hard left Labor Party
backbenchers barking at his War on Terror policies wasn't so much a war as a
lesson in political art.
Then there's the war Reps. Jim McDermott and David Bonior are
waging, at the moment via embarrassing phone calls from Baghdad.
These men epitomize that slice of my generation trapped in a
terrible quagmire. "Peaceniks" like McDermott and Bonior are still fighting
the Vietnam War, and they are sadly indicative of how peaceniks have morphed
into appeaseniks. Instead of principled Eugene McCarthy's opposing LBJ's War
of Body Counts, they've become Neville Chamberlains -- men who fail to
comprehend radically changed circumstances.
Several astute commentators have picked up on an extraordinary
irony. In the '50s, the American Left disdained President Dwight Eisenhower
as a man whose thinking was shaped by an "old war" -- even though WWII was
only a dozen years in the past. (And the critics harped despite the fact
that Ike had an extraordinary gift for strategic thinking.)
Vietnam is 30 years gone. In the face of global terrorists and
proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the lessons the left-wingers
thought they learned have become lesions.
McDermott and Bonior come from the same cadre of doddering
arch-lefties who told us the world would go pffft if the Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty were chucked.
The war the ABM Treaty was designed to help deflect was in
history's dust bin, but McDermott and Bonior's soulmates were still fighting
it in 2001.
The Bush administration chucked the ABM Treaty in favor of
missile defense, much needed in today's strategic circumstances. What was
the result? A new arms race as predicted by the Left? A war between the
United States and Russia? With a pish and a tut, their fearmongering died
not with a bang but a whimper.
The complex war responsible Americans began to fight on 9-11 has
radically shifted terms. This new war does demand old virtues -- courage and
persistence being essential. Winning it also means putting ideological
fossils like McDermott and Bonior into the same political museum as Neville