Saturday, March 8, 2008

Do we have the will to win an “endless war”?

In the Western conflict against terror, the principle enemy is jihadist Islam; a military theology which requires an unending holy war that is constant, persistent and perpetual. War by jihadist Muslims has been accelerating around the Arab world; adding large numbers of disciples as it continues. The period of despair by Muslims of the last century is over.

The most recent events fueling Muslim disillusionment was the creation of a Jewish state in 1948 and the inability of Arabs to destroy Israel from its creation through several wars, up to and including the 1967 war. However, with the loss of these wars, Muslims have evolved a continuing state of jihadist war, a war without end.

This new war is being fought by Al Qaeda, its allies and offshoots, including the Afghan Taliban; radical Shiah headed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and the multi-branched Muslim Brotherhood directly and through the Palestinian Hamas. Although the three groups may be at each other’s throats sometimes, (in such places as Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine); they are clearly joined in the war against western civilization by classical tactics of terror and, increasingly, in the doctrine of what I call “endless war”; not winning a military war becomes to them a winning strategy.

The “endless war” by Muslims employs tactics that make it possible for the Muslim terrorist-fighters to dispense with victory as the declared goal against their avowed enemies: the United States, Western Europe and Israel. Desire for victory is replaced by a more attainable objective, depriving the enemy of victory by keeping all armed encounters inconclusive.

Muslims use this “endless war” strategy to challenge supremacy of Western military technology. Tactics such as suicide attacks, roadside bombs and primitive missiles which harass innocent civilians, sophisticated armies, air forces and navies, force the enemy and its populations to live behind walls. “Endless war” gives them military confidence for the first time since the Ottomans were turned back at the gates of Vienna in 1683. It means that constant combat is its own triumph and reward.

Although domination of the world by Islam is the victory goal, single engagements, big or small, do not have to be won. It does not matter to Muslims how costly in lives of combatants it may be, the loss of life is an end in itself. The struggle of Islam against the West is counted in generations. When Osama bin Laden planned for the destruction of the United States, he was looking into a timeless future.

Other Islamic leaders have also embraced and prophesized “endless war”. The late Ahmad Yasin, one of the founding fathers of Hamas, regularly spoke of Israel’s annihilation as a certainty, but he never specified any future target dates. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, uses the metaphor of a slowly unwinding spider web for the ultimate downfall of America and Israel.

The idea of “endless war” gains strength in the Muslim mind as America began to face difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan and criticism and discouragement at home. It was further encouraged by Israel’s failure to fully defeat Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon war. The Israel failure in Lebanon is a perfect example of how “endless war” works in favor of the Islamic objective. Though they did not beat Israel, they came out ahead by denying the Israeli army a victory so they are still able to fight another day.

"Endless war” was how the Mujaheddin defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Against an absolutely superior military force, Muslims won by stretching the war out beyond the Soviet endurance to sustain loss of lives without achieving military victory.

The same tactic is in play in Israel. With a comparatively very small population, Israel faces millions of Arabs with nothing but time on their side. Muslims whittle away at the Israeli population through terrorism and rockets while Israel succumbs to the demands by the United States for ever-ongoing “peace negotiations”; how long will the state of Israel last?

Islamists are emboldened by the prospect that, if not the present generation living to see the Islamic flag hoisted in Jerusalem as a sign of victory, subsequent generations surely will. This generation of Muslims in the Mid-East is willing to have a mission limited to self-sacrifice because they know “endless war” will be carried on by its progeny. The triumph of their martyrdom not only over Israel but the world lies several generations in the future.

Even in Iraq, according to this Islamic military ideology, war on unbelievers is not about territory but blood. Therefore, the American army could occupy all of Iraq, topple Saddam Hussein and his statue, seize Baghdad and drive al Qaeda out of provincial strongholds, without winning or even ending the Iraq war because the conflict remains inconclusive. For jihadists Iraq and Afghanistan as well, is merely a part of the continuing war which could go on for generations. This is the thinking behind al Qaeda’s declarations that, however many reinforcements America may deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, they will change nothing on the ground; the war will go on.

In the 1980s, Osama bin Laden adopted the motto of his mentor Sheik Azzam Abdullah, whom he later murdered in order to lead al Qaeda himself. The Sheikh’s battle cry was: “We Muslims are invincible because we love death, whereas you (the enemy) love life.”

So is our prospect for the future hopeless; not necessarily. We can win the battle for survival if we employ what Ariel Sharon said while he was still a warrior, and of which he wrote in his book of this title. Reflecting on his years as a courageous soldier fighting for his nation's survival, Sharon wrote in his book “Warriors” that, in dealing with Israel's Arab attackers, he "came to view the objective not simply as retaliation, or even deterrence in the usual sense. It was to create in the Arabs a psychology of defeat, to beat them every time and to beat them so decisively that they would develop the conviction they could never win."

The war against terror will be unwinnable until such time as we are willing to do whatever is necessary to beat the Muslims “so decisively” they “develop the conviction” they cannot win against western civilization either through “endless war” or the womb.

The western world can only succeed with one strategy – win at all cost no matter what the price in loss of public opinion or condemnation by political correctness.

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