April 21, 2003

BETTER LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE

Baghdad and Beyond: Another Victory for the Bush Doctrine (Alan W. Dowd, April 15, 2003, Hudson.org)
The Bush Doctrine of coercive diplomacy, preemptive action, and regime termination has passed another important test: After destroying the terrorist regime run by the Taliban and bankrolled by al Qaeda, it has dismantled the Saddam Hussein vast prison state, thus eliminating one of the centerpieces of global terrorism and preempting the use or transfer of weapons of mass murder onto the American homeland. But there?s more to come?and there?s more happening than meets the eye.

While the U.S.-led coalition swept through Iraq, the Pentagon quietly continued its ongoing operations throughout the eastern hemisphere?a fact underscored by large-scale raids in eastern Afghanistan timed to coincide with the initial assault on Saddam?s regime. In Pakistan, the Bush Doctrine?s coercive diplomacy has converted President Pervez Musharraf from the Taliban?s only friend into a dependable ally in the War on Terrorism. U.S. Special Forces now roam freely along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, conducting search and destroy missions on both sides of the border?sometimes deep inside Pakistani territory, and often with the assistance of Pakistani troops.

In the Philippines, teams of U.S. troops are conducting what the diplomats call ?counterterrorism training missions? with the Philippine army. But if it?s training, it?s on-the-job training. As in Afghanistan, the U.S.-led force has smashed and scattered the enemy. Likewise, in Georgia and other former Soviet republics, U.S. troops are training and equipping local forces to clean out al Qaeda and its kindred movements.

From their perch in Djibouti, U.S. intelligence agents and military taskforces are conducting operations in and around Yemen (recall the Predator strike on al Qaeda commanders in November 2002), monitoring terrorist activity in the lawless lands of eastern Africa, reminding the Sudanese and Libyans that there?s a new sheriff in town, and intercepting suspicious ships transiting the vital waterways around the Horn of Africa. One of those ships was a North Korean vessel loaded with SCUD missiles bound for Yemen. Although the ship was allowed to continue to its destination, the episode sent an unmistakable message to North Korea and its ilk: America is watching and can strike at will.

Yet all of this was little more than background noise as the United States waged and won two major military campaigns in the span of eighteen months. Like some twenty-first-century posse, U.S. Special Forces rode into Afghanistan on horseback, the Marines by helicopter. The warplanes came from the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the former Soviet Union and the continental United States. The Taliban promised another Vietnam, a replay of the Soviet?s Afghan nightmare. But what the world witnessed was liberation in its fullest sense, as this improbable taskforce rewrote military history and helped Afghanis take their first steps toward freedom in a generation.

Then, before a new government was even installed in Kabul, the United States swung its sites to Iraq and began assembling an invasion force like no other. Once called into action, it moved across the sands and skies of Iraq like lightning across the heavens. Saddam promised a Stalingrad, a Mogadishu. He wanted oil fires and mass casualties to show the world that the allies were no different than his thugs. But what the world has witnessed is the power of restraint, the shock and awe of a military juggernaut limited only by the conscience of a moral people. From the airmen and sailors using their missilery like a sniper?s rifle to the Marines and soldiers sharing food with Saddam?s victims after destroying his armies, America?s finest have risked their own lives to limit the bloodshed.

Saddam?s Baathists have done the very opposite. Cribbing their battle plan from bin Laden?s al Qaeda and Arafat?s al Aqsa Martyrs, they marched noncombatants in front of tanks, used school buses and pregnant women as time bombs, and converted holy sites into missile sites. Yet none of this deterred the liberators of Iraq. Instead, they fought harder and plunged deeper. Could it be that every fake surrender, every suicide attack, every atrocity, reminded the Americans of the men who planned and executed September 11?

In all of this, one recalls what an awestruck Churchill observed in the middle of World War II: "With her left hand," he marveled, "America was leading the advance of the conquering Allied armies into the heart of Germany, and with her right, on the other side of the globe, she was irresistibly and swiftly breaking up the power of Japan." Such is the reach of a wounded America.

The most remarkable aspect of all of this is that by the end of Condi Rice's first term of office, in 2012, we'll be returning to our natural isolationist posture. This is all, from the Phillipines to Yemen, really just something we do when sufficiently annoyed. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2003 10:58 PM
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