Our Two Enemies: Abroad & at Home

by on August 3rd, 2006

Clarifying the scope and depth of one’s enemy is the first step in mounting a successful counter-offensive. One of the West’s most profound errors in the past six years has been a studied misappraisal of the nature and resiliency of the Islamic extremists. In a lucid and cogent editorial in the London Times, Amir Taheri provides an accurate rendering of this vile enemy’s intentions, which is an apt antidote to the ill-advised way that many in the West dismiss the true nature of this threat.

Taheri argues that the key to understanding the nature of this enemy is to understand that although all the wars in the Middle East in the past century have been secular in nature, the first two of the 21st century are clearly ideological. Further, every player in the Middle East, from the smaller but nonetheless lethal roles played by Hamas and Hezbollah to regional titans such as Iran, are all part of the same ideological fanaticism.

Further, the conflicts we now face are but a shadow of those to come. Indeed, one needn’t be a code breaker to hear in the barbed rhetoric emanating from Iran the manifest threat of globalizing this battle. Hezbollah’s success thus far against Israel is but an adumbration of the depth of their ideological and nascent military bench as well as their absolute determination to prevail. Counter-terrorism experts have gleaned reliable information that points to a world-wide activation of terrorist cells, as reported on counterterrorism.com.

A vital component to counter-terrorism is the ability to see into and through the gauze of confusing messages, partial pictures of slowly evolving events, and disparate pieces of puzzles that are so scant in their evidence as to apparently lead nowhere. In that mass of seemingly incoherent information is the answer, the trend lines, the intentions, all wrapped into one conclusion that, if read correctly, can provide a critical strategic advantage.

Our choices may be few and challenging but the alternatives are far bleaker. Confounding our sense of direction and testing our perseverance is our political predicament, in particular, the cynical way in which many on the left seek to discredit our counter-terrorist efforts against the Islamic extremists for craven political gain.

Despite America’s reluctant entrance into WWII, once we were engaged, our nation was unquestionably united against our foe and our resolve was singularly focused on its destruction. As has been astutely observed, armies don’t wage wars, nations do, and the war we’re engaged in is just as real as the one that challenged us on the battlefields of Europe and in the Pacific.

However, the current war is actually a twofold challenge because we face an adversary overseas and one at home. The enemy at home has lapsed into a pre-9/11 mentality that tends towards an abstract interpretation of the Islamic terrorists, which leads the naive or ignorant to minimize their potential to inflict wide-scale damage on our nation.

Those who have chosen to place politics ahead of national security–witness their continued attacks against the NSA surveillance and the financial vetting programs–are a powerful lobby that provides indirect but meaningful assistance to our enemy because it blunts our political will, which has always been and remains the driving force behind any nation.

Most counter-terrorism experts agree that America will be attacked again and that it will most likely be far more horrific than 9/11. Our ability to understand the nexus between that threat and the battles that are raging in the Middle East, in particular, the gathering malevolence in Iran, is paramount, and those who willfully seek to discredit it are complicit in creating unnecessary and potentially lethal vulnerabilities in our national security apparatus.

Mella is Founder and Editor of ClearCommentary.com

Philip Mella