The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Time for Clarity, Part 2

In the first of a 3-part post entitled A Time for Clarity, I discussed the scope of Islamic terror, the groups that it has spawned, and some of the questions that might be reasonably posed by those of us who are concerned about it.

Now it's time to consider our response to date.

Five administrations have had to deal directly with Islamic terror. In 1983, Ronald Reagan suffered a terrorist bombing that killed over 200 US military personnel in Lebanon. He retreated from the region and did little to strike back. In 1990, George H.W. Bush was very assertive in expelling Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War. In fact he was the only US president who responded with overwhelming and brutal force, but his fight was with Saddam Hussein, not Islamic terror. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton tried to avoid the issue, even after the first world trade center attack in the early 1993. He struck at the newly formed al Qaeda in a half-hearted manner and did nothing after the atrocities in Somalia (exemplified by "Black Hawk Down" in 1993). In 2001, George W. Bush responded forcefully (but not forcefully enough) after the 9-11 attacks in which over 3,000 American civilians died, but at the same time, he worked hard to support the narrative that the attacks had little to do with Islam and that the religion/ideology was one of "peace." In 2012, Barack Obama told us that al Qaeda has been decimated (a lie), banned the phrase "war on terror" from the White House lexicon (mendaciously suggesting that our fight against Islamic terror was over). He pulled all combat troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan against the advice of the military, opening the door for a Islamic terror takeover of both countries. Today, he reluctantly reenters the fray with an unnamed action against ISIS (the Islamic State), telling us that this fight will be long, but will not involve our "boots on the ground."  Within the past few weeks, the Obama administration has created the euphemism for al Qaeda, Khorasan, as the reality of al Qaeda's growing resurgence and virulence makes a mockery of Barack Obama's implied claim that he had defeated them.

For five presidential administrations, spanning almost 35 years, we have fought a "war" against an abstraction—terror. Each administration has chosen a single entity, for example, al Qaeda or more recently ISIS and implied that by defeating it, the "war" will be won.

That's a bit like trying to empty an Olympic-size swimming pool using a child's small plastic bucket while it's raining hard . With every bucket-full we take out of the pool, rainwater floods in. The net result is—no progress, or worse, rising water levels.

Barack Obama's "strategy" against ISIS is rife with problems, but even if it were to succeed, history and reality indicate that another more barbaric Islamic terror group would form to take the place of ISIS. We bail water out of the pool, but accomplish little or nothing—except the expenditure of blood and money.

In tennis, there's an old aphorism—"change a losing game." When what you're doing against an opponent isn't working, it's time to change your strategy, if you have any chance at winning at all. I think the same advice applies to our current "war on terror."

But what do we change, and how do we change it?

We'll examine that in Part 3.