Friday, February 18, 2005

Testimony Before Congress 2

The testimony of various counterterrorism executives before Congress eloquently described the vast scope and comprehensiveness of the War on Terror. The testimony was distinguished by the emergence of a common nomenclature for the ideological enemy,'Sunni Jihadhism'; an appreciation that some form of WMD attack against the United States was being planned by the Sunni Jihadism (we are replacing the variable word "enemy" with a value now) and the appreciation that the nature of the struggle was total, especially in the ideological realm. And that struggle, far from slowing down, was still expanding.

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided the broadest description of the nature of the conflict and laid out what it took to defeat the enemy.

After more than three years of conflict, two central realities of this war are clear. The first is that this struggle cannot be won by military means alone. The Defense Department must continue to work with other government agencies to successfully employ all instruments of national power. ... A second central reality of this new era is that the United States cannot win a global struggle alone. It will take cooperation among a great many nations to stop weapons proliferation. It will take a great many nations working together to locate and dismantle global extremist cells. It takes a great many nations to gather and share the intelligence crucial to stopping future attacks. Our friends and allies are increasingly aware that the danger confronting America is at their doorstep as well, as underscored by attacks in Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, and elsewhere.

What necessarily follows, though it was not specifically stated in the testimony, is that the consequences arising from the totality of the conflict will apply to the enemy as well. Defeat when it comes, will result in a loss to the vanquished proportionate to the scope of the war. To take one example, the Sunni jihadi WMD threat against America implicitly raises a corresponding threat against the Islamic world. Nuclear war, once started, means nuclear war against Sunni jihadism as well. Osama Bin Laden's wager on September 11 has been called and raised in Iraq. No one will walk away from the table in the state he sat down. It is already unlikely that Saudi Arabia will survive in its present form, as Porter Goss' survey suggests. One might add Israel, Iraq and Iran to the list of nations which will be radically transform by coming events as well. The truth of Rumsfeld's observation that the war against terror is largely an ideological battle can be seen in the effect it has had on Islam and the Western Left. The Sunni jihadis have long maintained that war will continue until the Islamic flag flew over Downing Street and the White House. Those being the stakes, it necessarily follows that the War, as described in the testimony of the counterterrorism executives, will if it does not result in the triumph of Islam, mean the ruin of Sunni jihadism and its Leftist allies. Vast changes have already taken place in the US and Europe, which we are reminded will be nothing compared with what is yet to come.

The Daily Demarche links to a Miami Herald piece focusing on the car-bombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari, showing how the law of unintended consequences sharpens -- always tends to sharpen -- the issues along the fault lines of the underlying conflict.

The Law of Unintended Consequences warns us to expect the unexpected. Prepare, then, for the unexpected to take shape as the shockwaves pushing out from the smoldering crater in Beirut recast crucial relationships around the world. Whoever orchestrated Hariri's assassination imagined the explosive event would produce results in accordance with a master plan. It is unlikely, however, that the master plan included strengthening the bonds between the United States and France. But closer ties between Paris and Washington will undoubtedly result from the Hariri murder.

The Daily Demarche observes that as each side blunders into each other in their own ways the nature of their antagonism is reshaped in the encounter. The vortex expands and acquires its own dynamic.

Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way -- because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby.