- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

Consider a new definition of war as: “getting what you want at the end in a struggle between forces.”

This definition neither includes nor excludes the military, diplomatic or other measures that may help achieve that goal. It also does not define the forces or the methods of the confrontation. And it probably includes what most normally call “postwar reconstruction,” which seems to have occurred slowly in Iraq.

The war on terror in which we are engaged, what the Pentagon calls the Global War on Terror (GWOT), and the underlying wars like the war between Israel and Hezbollah, may best be defined by this new definition: The GWOT is more than a military confrontation. It is also a spy game, a media battle for “hearts and minds,” a war of financial sleuthing and intrigue, a war on the Internet and much more.

Using this definition, the war on terror is equally Hezbollah rockets into Israel and Hezbollah using counterfeit U.S. currency to fund the recovery in Lebanon. It is “Shock and Awe” to defeat Saddam and a reconstruction and peacekeeping “Shock and Awe” with equal verve.

Certainly when describing the war on terror and the war in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and many others have stressed the need for an articulated, comprehensive approach to include intelligence, diplomacy, the media and all other national and international assets.

Yet here in the United States we are politically divided and that, it would seem, erodes our will to win and our national determination. Our enemies certainly know this. To our enemies, it might not be crystal clear we are indivisible in our determination, with a national plan to succeed.

We also are bound by strict rules of procedure and by our own policies, like random airline searches to include 90-year-old grandmothers. The enemy has no such restrictions. The enemy plays to win, and this means playing dirty. Doctored photographs in the media are just the tip of the iceberg.

If war is truly “getting what you want,” did Israel do well in the war with Hezbollah? And is the United States achieving success in Iraq?

Israel did not achieve any of its top three objectives: the return of the captive soldiers, elimination of Hezbollah and destruction of Hezbollah’s rockets.

Moreover, Israel now faces an even more enraged group of Arabs (and Persians) due to the destruction of much of southern Lebanon; a media machine even more emboldened by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah due to his adroit use of Al-Minar, al-Jazeera, and other outlets; some loss of trust and respect on the part of Israel’s people for the Israeli Defense Forces; and arguably, a political and military leadership shake-up for Israel in the offing.

It is uncertain that Israel, with the help of the U.N., has, as yet, ended support for Hezbollah from Iran and Syria. It is also not certain that the international community, which cannot seem to field a peacekeeping force, can stop arms shipments to Hezbollah.

In the debate among “think tank” experts, one criticism of President Bush and his leadership team is that in their vision of war, they pay too little heed to diplomacy and other possible elements of war that may have served them better in Iraq.

“This vision focuses on destroying the enemy’s armed forces and his ability to command them and control them,” wrote author and military historian Frederick Kagan in the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review in August 2003. “It does not focus on the problem of achieving political objectives.”

Mr. Kagan continued, “They see the enemy as a target set and believe that when all or most of the targets have been hit, he will inevitably surrender and American goals will be achieved.”

“Shock and Awe” worked remarkably well in 2003. But two years later, with a steady loss of blood and life, mostly due to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), it might be productive for all Americans to come together to help determine the best course of action from here on out.

The critical questions might be, “are we getting what we want”? Or, what is now our confidence level that we can get what we want? And how might we adjust to get what we want?

For Iraq, we might discuss a bipartisan and national effort to win; or a bipartisan national decision to withdraw. The discussion might forge a new recommended “way ahead.” More troops or fewer troops are just two options below a potentially new and larger framework.

Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democrat, is calling for a regional strategy to encompass Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and other hot spots. But nobody seems to be spearheading any effort of the sort and everyone is politically posturing.

One potentially helpful discussion could come from renewed hearings on the progress of the war in congressional committees. These would have to be not political grandstanding committee meetings to skewer Mr. Rumsfeld, but genuine, bipartisan and adult discussions on how to proceed to achieve what we want in the war. This will require statesmanship not showmanship.

Because before too long we have to either open the tool kit of our thinking and win or put our hammer away and go home. The alternative is that the president’s current methodology will continue.

Vice President Dick Cheney echoed some of the president’s recent statements at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno on Aug. 28: “A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be… a ruinous blow to the future security of the United States.”

We need to get what we want in Iraq. What we do not want, if it can be avoided and there are better alternatives, is a decades long conflict called GWOT and a continuing and festering divide between the U.S. and the entire Islamic world.

To get what we want we may need more bipartisan thinking; and some bipartisan agreement and leadership on our nation’s strategy to win — or do something else.

John E. Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants Inc.

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