President-elect Barack Obama is discovering rhetoric does not impress terrorists.
Last week al Qaeda‘s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, called Mr. Obama a “house Negro.” Osama bin Laden’s top adviser warned in his latest video that Mr. Obama’s pledge to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan will lead to the loss of more American blood and treasure.
Al-Zawahri vowed that al Qaeda and their Taliban allies will do to America what the Mujahideen did to the Soviet Union during the 1980s: bring a military giant to its knees through a protracted guerrilla insurgency.
Mr. Obama campaigned on the power of transformative diplomacy: His alleged virtue and willingness to negotiate with America’s enemies would foster increased dialogue and mutual understanding. Al-Zawahri’s comments shatter this dangerous illusion.
Al-Zawahri and his terrorist thugs are not interested in rational dialogue; they want war. Their goal is to defeat the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, and eventually launch more suicide attacks on our homeland.
Contrary to liberal spinmeisters, Mr. Obama’s electoral victory will not end the threat of Islamic fascism. World peace is not around the corner. Rather, his multilateral, appeasement policies will only embolden Islamic terrorists.
The central pillar of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is that Iraq was America’s great strategic mistake: The Bush administration diverted its attention from Afghanistan in order to topple Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. Mr. Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, repair alliances with our European and Middle East partners, focus on direct diplomacy with rogue states such as Iran, Syria and North Korea, and send 15,000 to 20,000 additional combat troops into Afghanistan. He also says he will order punishing air strikes against al Qaeda targets within Pakistan, and eventually kill bin Laden.
Mr. Obama, however, fails to grasp the essential reality of our time: The Muslim world, stretching from north Africa to south Asia, is in crisis and seethes with violent radicalism, jihadism and Islamic fundamentalism. Like most liberal Democrats, Mr. Obama is under the delusion that destroying al Qaeda or decapitating bin Laden will somehow end the threat posed by militant Islam.
Yet on Sept. 11, 2001, America was not attacked by a single terrorist group led by a sadistic mastermind; it was attacked by the forces of an ideology - Islamic fascism - that has taken root within the Middle East and is supported or encouraged by thousands of other like-minded terrorist groups, tens of millions of Muslim extremists and numerous regimes such as Saddam’s Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah’s mini-state within Lebanon (to name only a few). Al Qaeda is not the only terrorist network seeking America’s destruction.
We are not simply fighting al Qaeda; we are fighting the political-religious movement of Islamofascism. We are not engaged in a law enforcement action; we are engaged in a wider war - an ideological war against those who reject the modern world and seek to impose a global Muslim empire.
Mr. Obama is wrong on almost every issue regarding the war on terror. An early pullout of U.S. forces from Iraq will leave a strategic vacuum that will be filled by jihadists and Iran; morale among American troops will be crushed; America will have been defeated in the heart of the Middle East.
Deploying more forces in Afghanistan without an overall framework for victory will only escalate the fighting and provide more targets for the resurgent Taliban. Pakistan’s militants will join the battle, potentially destabilizing the fragile democratic government in Islamabad.
Talking with Iran and Syria will only strengthen the two most dangerous - and aggressive - autocracies in the region. Tehran seeks to dominate the Middle East. It has transformed Syria into a client state; it arms and supports Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon; it aims to turn Iraq into a political vassal; it seeks to destroy Israel; and most ominously, it marches toward a nuclear arsenal. Iran is the most anti-American, anti-Western revolutionary Islamist state in the world - a Persian fascist dictatorship sitting on large reserves of oil, dreaming of a military showdown with Israel and America.
Negotiations and diplomacy with Tehran’s fanatics would be a reckless course of action. The only policy that will work is the one Mr. Obama has consistently ruled out: regime change triggered by military containment, crippling economic sanctions and, if necessary, an intensive bombing campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The al-Zawahri types will not go away or be persuaded to take up farming by Mr. Obama’s calls for hope and change. Islamic fascists are serious, evil men. Words do not impress them; neither does goodwill or liberal, multicultural tolerance. They must be defeated, and the Muslim world democratized and brought into modernity - kicking and screaming if necessary.
Mr. Obama will learn this the hard way, but learn it he will.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.