- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

Michael Scheuer’s war

Michael F. Scheuer has again demonstrated that he views our war against Islamofascism through a blurred optic (“W., Washington and war,” Op-Ed, Thursday). Perhaps he is too close to the subject and has become enamored with our enemies, while joining forces with the blame-America-first crowd.

His first argument, that we are locked in mortal combat with the Islamists “… if you prefer, because of our policies in the Muslim world — not because of what we think or believe,” while it may have some merit, misses the point. Of course it is because of our policies. Our policies are driven by our national interest. And, I would submit that our national interest is ultimately tied to our national welfare and survival. Forfeit that, and we invite extinction.

In his book, “Imperial Hubris,” Mr. Scheuer outlined Osama bin Laden’s (and, by extension, any Islamist leader’s) key foreign-policy goals: the end of American aid to Israel, withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, end of involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, end of U.S. support for governments (ostensibly) suppressing Muslims, restoration of Muslim control over Islamic energy resources and replacement of U.S.-supported Muslim regimes that do not govern according to Islam.

He fails to identify another goal, to which the above inevitably points: the destruction of the West. Bin Laden shared a dream of “creating a unified and pure worldwide Muslim government” with the Islamic scholar Hassan Al-Turabi. In 1998 bin Laden admitted that he thinks hating Americans, Christians and Jews is part of the Islamic belief and religion. Since he was a boy, he had been “harboring feelings of hatred towards America.”

“The conflict with the West,” according to bin Laden, “is a fateful war between unbelief and Islam, between the army of Muhammad, the army of belief, and the people of the cross.”

The objective is a world dominated by Muslims, Islam and Islamic law. It would seem that no amount of acquiescence in U.S. policies would change the radical Islamist world view and desire for a global caliphate.

Further, to suggest that Muslims are mobilizing as a “reaction of a faith that perceives itself mortally threatened” is a distortion of reality. Islamists do not feel threatened. Their faith (at least in the United States and many European countries) is one of the most protected, while Christians are fodder for daily attacks and ridicule. Also, while native birthrates dwindle, Muslim populations are on the rise and can be increasingly troublesome (witness the recent events in France).

It would be naive to think that we could accommodate a philosophy such as this. Mr. Scheuer himself admits in his book that there is a “staggering incompatibility between American democracy in 2004 and contemporary Muslim society.”

Mr. Scheuer’s argument that we never meant to win the Afghan and Iraq wars has mixed validity. He offers insufficient troop strength, letting most of the enemy “go home with their guns” and not sealing the borders as conclusive evidence.

While “allowing” Iraqi troops to melt into the society has proven to be a miscalculation, assuming it was a deliberate plan, the other two elements of his statement are far from certain. Not enough troops? Calculating required force levels is very challenging, and, in the case of Iraq, laden with risk. More troops would just invite attacks against a larger target by the terrorists and their improvised explosive devices. The tendency for the terrorists to kill significantly more Iraqis than U.S. troops in their cowardly acts indicate that U.S. troops do not present a large, soft target. This tactic will eventually backfire or lose momentum, as was clearly illustrated by the homicide bombing in Amman, Jordan. Additionally, more troops would magnify the impression of an “occupation force,” the big fear among policy-makers and Iraqi leaders.

Closing the borders is a wonderful concept, but not very practical. Iraq’s borders are 3,650 kilometers (2,268 miles) long. To cover that — assuming one soldier for every 10 meters (11 yards) (a thin line of defense at best) — would require 365,000 people. Add to this the tooth-to-tail support ratio of 10 support troops for each line grunt, it quickly becomes a logistical and personnel nightmare. Regardless, there does seem to be a need for greater attention to this weakness. The United States needs to find a way to limit infiltration.

Mr. Scheuer is correct that our defense of the homeland does not instill much confidence (as it is limited by political correctness and constitutional rights being conferred on non-citizens). Although we have had no major incidents domestically since the September 11 terrorist attacks, it is hard to say if U.S. security procedures are effective or if the terrorists are occupied elsewhere. And, finally, one would have to agree that lack of immigration control may ultimately prove to be a greater risk to our security that anything else.

GARY CONARY

Las Vegas

A border-security test for Congress

Recent efforts in Congress regarding increased border security, as evidenced in the article “House panel passes border measure” (Nation, Friday), bode well for a concerted effort after the fall recess to seriously face the need for a secure border.

The real test will be whether Congress is willing to authorize troops on the border to assist the beleaguered Border Patrol and the consideration of several bills authorizing a 2,000-mile fence over the entire length of our border with Mexico. One bill, authored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, contains a combination of measures that would provide a comprehensive solution to our current malaise on effectively dealing with illegal immigration.

The mood in Congress seems to provide serious legislation to secure our border before any consideration of the president’s guest-worker program.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

Backfire in the House

If anyone was confused about the purpose of the Democrats’ relentless nattering over the war in Iraq, Friday night’s vote in the House of Representatives should expose that nattering for what it is, pure partisan politicking (“Pullout rejected 403-3,” Page 1, Saturday). By a vote of 403-3, the House rejected a bill that called for the United States to withdraw from Iraq immediately; 187 Democrats joined 215 Republicans (and one independent) in expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq not be terminated immediately.

If my team just suffered a defeat by a score of 403-3, I believe I would change my name, move to Canada and take up another sport. Relics of the past, in the form of Vietnam War protesters, have dusted off their protest signs, changed the names on the signs from Vietnam to Iraq and believe they can change U.S. war policy yet again.

That sound we heard coming from the floor of the House of Representatives was an enormous “backfire,” and after the smoke cleared, three members of the House, all Democrats, emerged with black soot covering their faces. Six others, all Democrats, had yellow gunpowder stains on their clothing for casting the cowardly vote of “present.” Their effort to abandon the war in Iraq and gain political traction with war-weary voters just blew up in their faces.

All Americans want the troops home, but not before their mission is completed. America made a commitment to remove Saddam Hussein and give Iraqis a chance at freedom. We have traveled this road for a long time and to take the exit ramp now would dishonor the sacrifice of our brave soldiers. Winning is the only option America has in Iraq and Afghanistan; withdrawing now makes no sense at all and our representatives in the House have said so, loudly and clearly.

My sincere thanks to each of the 403 House members who put America’s interests above partisan politics.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

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