Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 4, 2002
WAR: Identifying The Enemy
NOBODY lays out the conservative battle plan in the present war better than Michael Ledeen. Ledeen is keenly focused on the huge propaganda victory to be had by toppling the Iranian regime, and he's been a lone voice for months predicting that regime's demise.
As I see it, the enemy really is aptly described as an "axis of evil," a loose confederation of state and non-state actors with varying motivations but the same enemy in our free-elections, free-expression, free-markets, rule-of-law system. That's why we have had so much trouble identifying the enemy (besides timidity in offending 'friends' like the Saudis and in transgressing PC by declaring a non-Christian religious movement as our enemy): because they are defined not by their goals, which range from nihilist rage to regional ambition to messianic fervor, and not by their race, religion, ideology or tactics, but by their common aversion to the ideals (and not just the practice) of the American Revolution.
OUR ADVERSARIES ARE: America-hatred (and its fellow-traveler, Jew-hatred) under the banner of radical Islam in Iran and (formerly) Taliban Afghanistan and under secular regimes in Iraq and Syria; its spiritual and monetary benefactors in Saudi Arabia and Saudi-funded mosques and madrasses the world over; its cheerleaders in the Egyptian and other Arab media (and to a lesser extent in sectors of the American and European academies); its Communist collaborators in North Korea and Cuba; its localized terrorist clients, from Arafat's Al Aqsa Brigades and Hamas to the IRA, Abu Sayyaf and various other insurgents (possibly, we are still not certain, including Timothy McVeigh types in the U.S.); and the vanguard, the international terrorist clients like Al Qaeda, the late Abu Nidal, and Hezbollah (yes, it's a bit artificial to spilt Hamas and Hezbollah when both are principally local terrorist groups with fits of international activity).
By contrast, while it's useful as far as it goes on how to contain our enemies and gradually provide counter-examples, Ralph Peters' analysis of how we should build up moderate forms of Islam in places like Indonesia are really just a sideshow. We got into this mess, after all, by giving up on the Middle East, and we can only get out by fixing it. The fact that Islam in Indonesia is moderate is useless to us in the most critical breeding grounds for hate, because the Indonesians are never going to export their vision of Islam to Saudi Arabia or Egypt or France. We ignore the Indonesians or the Pakistanis at our peril, but those are the frontiers; they are not the heartland.