Joint Chiefs of Staff planners have produced a 27-page briefing on the war on terror that seeks to explain how to win the “long war” and says Islamic extremists may be supported by 12 million Muslims worldwide.
Military planners worry that al Qaeda could win if “traditional allies prefer accommodation.”
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the document states, “is absolutely committed to his cause. His religious ideology successfully attracts recruits. He has sufficient population base from which to protract the conflict. … Even support of 1 percent of the Muslim population would equate to over 12 million ‘enemies.’ ”
The unclassified production, titled “Fighting the Long War — Military Strategy for the War on Terrorism,” is a component of the Pentagon’s ongoing campaign to explain that a lengthy struggle requires patience from the American people and Congress.
It holds up the 1930s as an example of how not to respond to extremism, noting Europe’s appeasement of German dictator Adolf Hitler.
“The consequences of inaction” in the 1930s, the briefing says, “Lives lost: 300,000; 70 million worldwide. … War expenditures: $3.1 trillion … 38 percent of GDP per year. [The Pentagon today is spending 3.8 percent of U.S. GDP.] U.S. reconstruction expenditures: $90 billion over four years.”
The briefing was prepared for Rear Adm. William D. Sullivan, vice director for strategic plans and policy within the Joint Staff, which is under Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. Adm. Sullivan used it to deliver a lecture in January to a national security study group at Mississippi State University.
“It is an effort, when asked, to explain why we are doing what we are doing from a military perspective to fight the long war,” said Air Force Maj. Almarah Belk, spokeswoman for Gen. Pace. “We’re not on a road show. We tailor it based on who requests the speaker, and a lot of the same core information could be used in other briefings.”
The Bush administration’s effort to explain Iraq and the broader war includes more than briefings. On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was in New York talking to the Council on Foreign Relations, and Gen. Pace addressed the National Press Club in the District. At the same time, President Bush was in Tampa, Fla., speaking on the war.
Bin Laden, the Joint Staff paper says, wants to “expand the Muslim empire to historical significance.” And Iraq “has become the focus of the enemy’s effort. If they win in Iraq, they have a base from which to expand their terror. … Extremists now have an Emirate in Iraq that serves as a base of operations from which they can revive the Caliphate [Islamic rule]. … Baghdad becomes the capital of the Caliphate. The revived Caliphate now turns its attention to the destruction of Israel.”
Adm. Sullivan’s briefing contains a map that shows the bin Laden-style caliphate conquering North and East Africa, the entire Middle East and Central and South Asia.
This dire scenario can only happen if the U.S. is defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The United States cannot be defeated militarily,” the briefing says, “the enemy knows this. But consider … terror attacks weaken the world economy. Continued casualties weaken national resolve. Traditional allies prefer accommodation.”
The enemy has “inherent weaknesses,” including “no military capacity to expand their fight beyond terrorist tactics.”
“Marginalizing an ideology requires patience and promoting reform from within,” the briefing said.
Although it is similar to the Cold War, the war on terror has a distinction.
“We cannot discredit all of Islam as we did with communism,” the document says. “It is a divine religion. We can only discredit the violent extremist.”
“Americans will commit to a ‘long war’ if … they are confident our leaders know what they are doing.”