Yes, it is true: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other Western decisionmakers and political leaders have been influenced about Iraq. This has been done intentionally through a brand of conflict called “fourth generation” warfare.
The al-Qaeda led coalition recognized from the start they had no hope of defeating us on the conventional battlefield. All they had to do was to look at the results of the first Iraq war in 1991 or the short conventional war in Iraq in 2003.
The al Qaeda-led coalition had to ask itself this: how can we, a relatively weak conventional military force, outgunned and outmanned by a technologically superior giant, hope to win a military and political victory in Iraq? Their answer: by making it so costly in terms of bad news, too many dollars, and loss of life that their superior enemy, the United States, would decide the toll was too high and would leave.
Retired Marine Col. Tom Hammes best describes this in his book “The Sling and the Stone”: “Fourth generation warfare uses all available networks — political, economic, social and military — to convince the enemies’ political decisionmakers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit.”
In the case of Iraq, the al Qaeda-led coalition has used all these networks and added one more: the Western media. Each morning when the American people awake, including Mrs. Pelosi, the news comes in from Iraq. Al Qaeda has taken care that each event in Iraq — be it political, economic, social and/or military — is deliberately created for the purpose of generating “bad news.” Let me explain how.
In the world of Iraqi politics, the new government can only hope to function with all its members wanting it to succeed. Unfortunately, the minority Sunni members have been influenced by al Qaeda and led to believe the political deck is stacked against them. So they have decided the best course is to be uncooperative. Ultimately, this high-profile disunity ends up as bad Iraqi political news for Western viewers.
Economically, the Iraqi people are understandably anxious for a time when electric power will be fully up and running, ample oil will be available for export as well as domestic use, and commerce in downtown Baghdad will be safe and profitable.
But this is not the case, and why? The mostly inferior enemy coalition we fight in Iraq has enough strength to blow up oil pipelines and drilling rigs, take down power grid elements, and terrorize downtown Baghdad marketplaces with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), car bombs and truck bombs, all intensely and repeatedly covered by the media. Again, this all leads to bad Iraqi economic news for Western viewers.
We also see pictures of Iraqi society which most often depict a people in confusion and despair amid a smoldering background of burning cars and buildings. This thanks to an atmosphere brought on by horrific acts of terror by an enemy coalition that wants to keep the Iraqi people in misery, while ensuring we see it on television. The result: bad Iraqi social news for Western viewers.
Finally, what American family looks forward to the daily news of the results of another IED attack, the downing of an American helicopter, or a truck bombing at a U.S. military post? None do. Each of these acts carried out by an inferior enemy are intended to send a message to every home — and political leader — in the United States. Like the last three examples, this leads to bad military news from Iraq.
Every American must ask: What happens if we permit them to win the war in Iraq with these tactics? That is, what happens if we let al Qaeda’s well-planned media tactics alter our policy? Will it lead to a more peaceful Iraq, stabilize the Middle East region and benefit our national security? Or will it lead to an emboldened al Qaeda, spreading more terror and insurgency against moderate, friendly Arab governments, and posing an even greater threat to our national security?
It is not Mrs. Pelosi’s fault these messages have been sent by evil people who want to bring “Death to America,” and are constantly viewed by citizens of the U.S. and other Western countries. That said, there are many reasons for the problems experienced in Iraq, and use of fourth-generation warfare by the al Qaeda-led coalition is one of the most important. But we each must recognize this tactic for what it is: A deliberate plan by the al Qaeda-led coalition to influence U.S. government decisionmakers and test our will in standing strong against them.
The final question at hand today is: Will our political leaders allow al Qaeda’s plan to succeed?
Jim Saxton, New Jersey Republican, is a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and founder and a senior member of the House Terrorism and Unconventional Threats Subcommittee.