Getting a grip on the nation-building delusion and the real sponsors of terror.
Call it nation-building, call it counterinsurgency, the neocon way of war is based on the antihistorical idea that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are capable of resolution within those nations’ borders. It willfully ignores the conclusive influence that the intervention of foreign terror-sponsoring nations has.
Many of us who supported military action in Afghanistan and Iraq weren’t neocons then, and by condemning nation-building now aren’t turning coat.
Literally from the moment the towers of the World Trade Center fell, I have written that the nations that sponsor terrorism are our enemy, and that we cannot win this war unless and until we force them out of that business.
On 9-11, I wrote a column that was published the following day in the Washington Times. In it, I said, “Nations that sponsor or harbor terrorists are our enemies. We have to treat them accordingly. We must act against them, using whatever force is necessary to destroy the threat.”
The only other people to cast the war in those terms were Michael Ledeen in his 2002 book, The War Against the Terror Masters, and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers in his 2009 book, Eyes on the Horizon. I am honored to be in that small company.
Unless our national leadership quickly joins us, the terror sponsors will win this war and America will cease to be the land of the free.
From the beginning, I have argued that this war is as much an ideological war as a kinetic one. And, with equal consistency, I have been opposed to nation-building.
In Loose Canons on April 30, 2002 I wrote that Bush’s thinking had become dangerously confused. On September 4, 2002, I wrote that even if we dealt with the terrorist threats in Afghanistan and Iraq, the war would not be over until we ended — forcibly or otherwise — nations’ sponsorship of terrorism. And, on March 20, 2006, in a Loose Canons piece entitled “Endgame Conservatives,” I explained comprehensively the problem with the neocons’ war plan, that it placed us on the strategic defensive and precluded victory.
I explained that nation-building is not “neoconservatism” but actually “neo-Wilsonianism.” That it is, at its core, a colonialist strategy bound to fail anywhere, not just in the Muslim world. That if you do not fight a war in a manner calculated to win it decisively, you will lose it inevitably.
It is immoral — and contrary to the nation’s security — to spend American lives in nation-building. In the Muslim culture it’s doubly so, because the religion prohibits democracy. Under sharia law, the separation of church and state is prohibited. The Koran prescribes a comprehensive law that encompasses both religion and government.
And that’s the point of failure at which neocon nation-building and the military idea of “counterinsurgency” merge.
The commander of the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan reports regularly to Congress. In the April 2010 report, there is little but bad news. The classic text, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice” by the late David Galula, shows why the Bush-Obama nation-building strategy is failing in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few examples from the ISAF report and Galula’s work illustrate the problem.
Galula wrote that for an insurgent to succeed, he must have a cause — political, religious, economic or social — that the counterinsurgent cannot also espouse. The Taliban’s cause is the re-imposition of Islamic fundamentalism. It is already a dominant force in neighboring nations such as Iran and perhaps Pakistan. That cause is apparently succeeding in Afghanistan. The April ISAF report says, “[Taliban] organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding…. The strength and ability of [Taliban] shadow governance to discredit the authority and legitimacy of the Afghan Government is increasing.”
The Karzai government offers no cause that can seriously compete. Vague promises of democracy and economic development — made by an unpopular government seeking to bring the “good Taliban” into the fold — cannot compete with the undiluted Islamic fundamentalism the Taliban offer.
Galula wrote that support for an insurgency from other nations can take five forms. The Taliban receive them all. First, moral support “…by the weight of public opinion and through various communications media.” The Taliban receive it almost constantly in Islamic media and by word of mouth from the terror-sponsoring nations.
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