Last week, the president was in New York to again beat on the United Nations and member nations to do more in the war on terrorism. While admirable, it was probably a waste of his time.
Despite the antiterrorism rhetoric of the U.N. and the major world powers, and with the very significant exception of Great Britain and a few others, we are in a world war against radical Islam by ourselves. And we will continue to be in it by ourselves no matter who wins the election in November.
Why? Because France, Germany, Russia and China have concluded this war could be our undoing. Hoping for that result and a corresponding reduction of our power and influence, they want no constructive part of it until there is persuasive evidence we are winning. Only then will they help us celebrate the “collective victory over world terrorism.”
We should get used to it — and understand this war will go on until at least this and probably the next two generations of radical Muslim male leaders, their supporters and “fighters” are killed or otherwise eliminated. Many of us are troubled by this stark reality, yet most know it is true.
And we don’t understand how any version of a great religion could today incite rational followers to kill themselves and thousands of innocents in the name of “God.” But this war is nothing about religion or religious freedoms — it is about the absolute power to rule, total corruption and elimination of the obstacles to that — especially to responsible government, the enlightenment of the ignorant and the empowerment of women — this is what we represent, what the radicals fear the most, and why they hate us.
Against this set of stark realities we have our presidential debates: It is both amusing and outrageous that a central campaign issue asserts we should, could or can have the substantive support of the U.N. and our major power “friends” (like France and Germany) in the war on terror. Buying this goofy “international” theory will put us to sleep for the next four years, during which two things will most certainly happen:
We will be immediately taken up on our desire for international discussions — and they will go on endlessly, but with no substantive support from the other major powers. In fact, a traditional diplomatic initiative like this would be spun by the French and Germans as a major contribution (by them) in the war on terror. Remember, this is a war against us, and the major powers have already determined we may lose it. They will do nothing to change this result unless they determine that, despite their collective hopes, we will win.
Islamic radicals and extremists, mostly organized criminals who act like our big-city gangs, will use this time of “international reflection” to regroup and hit us again — in the name of God.
Getting out of this mess won’t be pretty or diplomatic, and we may have to suffer another withering attack before we learn, all of us — Jew, Christian, Muslim, agnostic, whether native-born or immigrant, Democrat or Republican, that we must methodically hunt down and neutralize the supports of radical Islamic terrorism, wherever they are. Specifically:
c We must take a very “undiplomatic” line with two of our reluctant allies in the war on terrorism: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They must become much more aggressive to take down their internal supports for radical Islamic terror — merely isolating or buying them off will not work. They must take it down with police or military force, or tell us where to strike with pinpoint accuracy.
c We must directly confront Iran, Syria and North Korea. Each will require a different kind of leverage. But we must confront, or they will most certainly attack us with a surrogate terror group as soon as they decide they can get away with it. Any and all pressure must be applied to this evil group — one already is a developing nuclear power, with another very close behind. And, there is no time to waste, especially with multilateral international discussion: We need to extraordinarily emphasize neutralizing the poisoning influence of these three countries now by any means required.
c We should develop a well-publicized role for our strategic forces in the war on terrorism — especially if Iranians or North Koreans develop a nuclear delivery capability. U.S. policy should make it clear we will not allow this. If we do, it will be only a matter of time before we are threatened with nuclear attack by either or both. If this sounds strident, do we think the Russians would allow a nuclear capability to be developed that had obvious “application” to them, say in Chechnya?
c As for the Russians, we should peel them away from the Franco-German view of the radical terror threat. In fact, we should have joint U.S.-Russian operations against terrorist support “nodes” wherever they are tolerated or acquiesced.
It is a traditional international game that nations always try to increase their own influence by decreasing that of more powerful nations. But in the war on terrorism, the consequences of this generally mundane diplomatic dance are simply unacceptable to Americans: a chemical, biological or nuclear attack, fear of random acts of violent terrorism in everyday life, being frightened to travel, worrying about the safety of our families at home and children at school.
We are alone in this fight — our major power “friends” — except Britain — quite obviously enjoy that the focus of fundamental Islamic radicalism is on us. Traditional diplomacy, engaging the U.N., and especially the election debate are phony exercises in present circumstances — and terrorists throughout the world will get stronger all the while.
The president said it best after September 11, 2001 — “you’re either with us or you’re against us” — the French, the Germans and the United Nations are not yet with us: We need to understand it, get over it and get on with the war on terror.
Daniel J. Gallington is a senior research fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va. He is a former deputy assistant defense secretary, Senate Intelligence Committee general counsel. and Justice Department deputy counsel for intelligence policy.