Wednesday, September 5, 2007

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The strategic thought of George W. Bush

Robert Draper's new Bush biography, Dead Certain, is being excerpted in Slate this week. Let's see how George W. Bush thinks strategically. This is from late 2006:

"The job of the president," he continued, through an ample wad of bread and sausage, "is to think strategically so that you can accomplish big objectives. As opposed to playing mini-ball. You can't play mini-ball with the influence we have and expect there to be peace. You've gotta think, think BIG. The Iranian issue," he said as bread crumbs tumbled out of his mouth and onto his chin, "is the strategic threat right now facing a generation of Americans, because Iran is promoting an extreme form of religion that is competing with another extreme form of religion. Iran's a destabilizing force. And instability in that part of the world has deeply adverse consequences, like energy falling in the hands of extremist people that would use it to blackmail the West. And to couple all of that with a nuclear weapon, then you've got a dangerous situation. ... That's what I mean by strategic thought. I don't know how you learn that. I don't think there's a moment where that happened to me. I really don't. I know you're searching for it. I know it's difficult. I do know—y'know, how do you decide, how do you learn to decide things? When you make up your mind, and you stick by it—I don't know that there's a moment, Robert. I really—You either know how to do it or you don't. I think part of this is it: I ran for reasons. Principled reasons. There were principles by which I will stand on. And when I leave this office I'll stand on them. And therefore you can't get driven by polls. Polls aren't driven by principles. They're driven by the moment. By the nanosecond."
Look past the description of his mastication and consider the following discussion question: what is missing from George Bush's strategic thought?

UPDATE: Well, Kevin Drum ruins the whole exercise by giving away the answer.

Actually, that's not entirely fair. Bush has thought about the situation in the Middle East, and has clearly determined what he thinks is the best U.S. response. To use some game-theoretic language, however, it's decision-theoretic, not strategic.

Take Bush's description of the situation as a given (I don't, but it doesn't matter for this exercise). He has determined, in his mind, the best U.S. response and defines that as strategic thinking. Except that, in this quote at least, what has not done is contemplate:

a) How the Iranian leadership might respond to U.S. policies;

b) How the Iranian people might respond to U.S. policies;

c) How the rest of the region might respond to U.S. policies;

d) How our key allies might respond to U.S. policies.

Part of strategic thought is contemplating how others might react to what you do. There's none of that in George W. Bush's strategic thought.

posted by Dan on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM


Ummm, errrr, this is a hard one.

I'll say.... strategy?

posted by: Aaron on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Aaron beat me to it.

The excerpts are fascinating. He seems to think that leadership boils down to projecting unshakable confidence and optimism at all times. I'll grant that this is a part of leadership, but very far from the only part, and not even the most important part.

And how did this guy Draper get so much access? I can't imagine they would have given him so much access unless they were sure he was going to write a hagiography, but there's some damning stuff in there.

posted by: weichi on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

The exact sort of reflexive, unthinking "by the moment" thinking Bush decries in polls is the very nature of his own decision-making. Except, as President, his emotional reflexes are called 'principles'. There is a very serious cognitive defect there, as well as the well established moral defects. Get that man into treatment, as he is clearly a danger to self and others!

posted by: Xenos on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

My first guess was Aaron's, above. Xenos hints at my second guess, though he or she doesn't say it in so many words -- "Thought".

posted by: Alex F on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Iran is promoting an extreme form of religion that is competing withanother extreme form of religion.

This is puzzling. What is the other 'extreme form of religion' in Bush's brain. Puritanical Wahabi Islam vs. a more syncretic Shi'a Islam? I don't think Bush really grasps the finer points of Islamic doctrine , and even if he did, why would the growth of Al-Qaeda type Sunni extremism be better for the West then Iranian led Shi' a extremism. Surely he is not talking about Zionism, or Christian fundamentalism, or Christian Zionism. Maybe he is thinking of neo-liberalism as a religion -- Huntington's 'Missionary Impulse', but that possibility seems even more remote that his grasping the essoteric doctrines of Islam. If he was, however, he would have made a big step in understanding our present predicament.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Moreover, his thought about principles is evidently innocent of any actual principles.

And "I don't know how you learn that. I don't think there's a moment where that happened to me." is innocent of any intentional irony, any self-reflection, or any ear for how the words he's saying sound...

posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

The thing missing from Bush's strategic thought is, well, thought. There's no reasoning going on here, just gut reactions based on a limited set of postulates (er, excuse me, principles). But in Bush's mind, he's livin large and havin big, big, ideas.

And, returning to mastication, wouldn't you think Babs Bush would have taught George not to talk when his mouth was full? Ewwwwwww.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Essay question:

The strategic thought of George W. Bush was neither strategic nor thoughtful. Discuss.

posted by: wph on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Remember the last (public) time our strategic president spoke with his mouth full?

posted by: Jaideep on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

It's pronounced "Stra-teg-erie"

Bush is a master of Strategerie.

posted by: Nicholas Weaver on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

What is missing from this disquisition is any mention of the world outside the Middle East. Coincidentally this same omission characterizes President Bush's foreign policy most of the time.

20th century American Presidents would have considered this unusual.

posted by: Zathras on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

One thing missing is a grasp of the facts. While I detest the Iranian theocracy, to call them a destabilizing force is a bit much. They look to be in a defensive mode, if anything.

Number of countries Iran has invaded or attacked since its revolution in 1979 = 0.

Number of countries the U.S. has invaded or attacked in the same period = 7 (Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Serbia, Sudan, Libya, Iraq)

I think I may be missing some.

posted by: Hal on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

What are the goals and any thought of relating actions to goals?

posted by: spencer on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

The best Big-Pictures are bottom up, not top down. They are based on building up a wealth of details and drawing lessons from it and *then* moving forward, always making sure that people are handling the details of planning and execution along the way.

And the bigger the picture, the more details are needed. Which requires more detailed planning-- building a house, or building a city?

Bush doesn't need to know *all* the details, but he has to have a staff who does know all the details and he has to listen to them and react appropriately. And he has to know enough details to make his 'big-picture' decisions.

So what's missing is- hiring top people all the way down the tree and listening to them. I think he does this occasionally, but not consistently.

And that's assuming he's a real big-picture person to begin with. Which I doubt, since very few people have that capability. Steve Jobs is an example of someone who does-- hires top people, has broad visions, but also is legendary for picking apart people on details during discussions. Romney, Guiliani and (Bill) Clinton have proven that they can do this-- Romney more for the Olympics than for Massachucetts. There's no background evidence that George Bush has this ability.

posted by: Andrew Berman on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]


Conspiciously lacking from this short comment is any acknowledgement by Bush of the different players that will be affected by America's actions, their current strategic situations, and their likely responses to our actions. For 'big picture' strategy to be effective (it would seem to me) it should display a clear link between the 'larger' principals in question, the actions the US will take, the likely responses of other actors in the region (and why), and how this will all lead to a situation on-the-ground that is closer to the desired outcome.

In this case: Bush claims to prioritize stability in the Middle East. He identifies Iran as a generational threat to that stability. He doesn't acknowledge, however, any of the other players in the region, what he proposes the US do about Iran, how the different players in the region will respond to this, and how this will result in increased stability.

Even if someone were to agree with him on his assessment of Iran, this (admittedly short) passage doesn't do much to clarify what the US should do about it

posted by: Ben on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

He's like a CEO that has come up with a mission statement but no steps on what to achieve and little specificity of what the company is trying to achieve. What this seems to indicate is that he puts a large amount of reliance on those under him to flesh out his strategy. But the problem is since the goals aren't clear, the steps to achieve that goal also aren't clear. There's no clarity on possible consequences (i.e. if Iran falls, would the energy supplies then necessarily be more secure?)

posted by: Rob on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

"it may be too much to expect the European and Arab publics, who are fed grotesque caricatures of Bush and America" - Dan Drezner March 5, 2003

Hmm, looks like the "European and Arab publics" caught on quite early that bush was an incompetent surrounded by incompetents.

What's Drezner's excuse? He was fed 'grotesque caricatures of Bush and america ' but the caricatures were of their competence?

posted by: kb on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

I'd really like to echo kb's question to Dan. This kind of Bush bashing is now gaining fashion even amongst those who were advising Bush's 2000 campaign.

It's all too easy to wash your hands now claiming that the man is incompetent, living in a parallel reality - whatever your personal excuse is. What mystifies us is what made you ever believe that Bush was pretty much the opposite of what you believe him to be today?

For example, here's the Cunning Realist on his reasons

I voted for Bush in 2000 based mainly on three broad promises he made, each of which I believed: to restore honor and decency to the White House; to build a highly competent administration marked by a rigorous, corporate style of management; and to have a restrained, non-interventionist foreign policy. Other issues important to me at the time were tax reform and social security reform.
So what were your reasons for not only supporting Bush, but for becoming part of his team early on? And how do you explain the difference whatever you saw /believed then and the reality you see/believe today?

It'd make a very interesting blog post and a lot of us are dying to hear the answers...

posted by: Hal on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

Most Republicans wanted to believe. They didn't think Bush could be so incompetent and stupid. Hell, Molly Ivins had been warning people before the 2000 election, but no one wanted to listen. Things have become so polarized in this country that one side won't listen to the other(Except for cowards named Pelosi and Reid).

posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

What Dan is really trying to do here is reiterate his unshakeable belief that Iran is doing absolutely nothing wrong in Iraq or Afghanistan - no sir, no how. You say Bush is too inflexible, but Dan has been equally, if not more, unflexible in promoting this lie about Iran's supposed benevolence in its neighboring countries.

He's turned against the Iraq war, and that's fine, but he's made the Iraq opponents mistake in thinking that recognition that Iran is meddling in Iraqi and Afghan affairs and killing Iraqis, Afghans and American soldiers in the process means that he must immediately support full scale invasion and regime overthrow. Those who supported the war and are not vehemently against it (Dan, Andrew Sullivan, Rod Dreher, Greg Djerejian, etc.) are blinded by their opposition to the war.

It gets really pathetic when, like Dan did about a month ago, you start citing stories by a reporter who walked through an Afghan border town near Iran and declare it free from Iranian influence because there is no fighting. Well, there's not really much need for fighting when you already are in de facto control of the town!

Even more laughably, these opponents claim that government agents sent into Iraq or Afghanistan to kill Iraqis, Aghans and Americans might not really be agents of the government!

Or they claim that its all ok, because Iran is just protecting its national interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, as if no other military action was ever undertaken because one country was protecting its national interests, but in so doing threatened or actually killed citizens of another country. Germany was protecting its national interests when it invaded the Sudetenland and Poland. Iraq was protecting its national interests when it invaded Kuwait. Just because a country is protecting its national interests, that does not automatically negate the need for response from countries it threatens or actually harms.

A great foreign policy tool for when you don't want to have to do anything is to pretend nothing is amiss. That's the case here - these (smart) guys don't want to go to war with Iran (and much of their reasoning is understandable) that, forgetting their are foreign policy options between "nothing" or "meaningless talk" and "invasion and overthrow" that they'd pretend everything is just rosy. I don't begrudge these guys their right to oppose the war in Iraq now, but when they scrape the bottom of the barrell for ways to pretend Iran has done nothing wrong, they embarass themselves and they do nothing to help the situation.

I have more on this here, at the very end:

posted by: Alenda Lux on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

I think it will be a long, long time before Bush allows any more reporters to have extensive interviews with him. Iago -- or Vladimir Putin --couldn’t have done as good a job on him as Draper has. Even aside from the bread crumbs, does this passage not bear an eerie resemblance to the conversation of one of the morons in a C.M. Kornbluth science fiction story?

posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]


Remember when Geo Bush senior was so clueless he didn't even understand the scanner at the grocery store? Remember the days when Reagan was an amiable dunce? Or the days when Goldwater was going to nuke us all? Or perhpas when Eisenhower was mocked for his apparent stupidity at news conferences?

It appeared to us Republicans that certain in the media had two templates for Republicans: Corrupt (Nixon) or Stupid (See above) So when Molly Ivins -- as a partisan a columnist as there ever was -- warned us all about Bush, well, we Reublicans thought that the media was doing it to us again.

Personally, I voted for Bush in 2000 because I thought he would really change the tone, and I disliked Gore's overtly populist campaign.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

The Iraq War through the Lens of Muslim History

The President of the United States has acknowledged that things are “bad” in Iraq. The United States chose to invade Iraq believing that the Iraqis would abandon Sharia Law which has served Islam well for hundreds of years in favor of a Western style of democracy. This endeavor is doomed to failure.

Jesus was crucified by the Romans and subsequent to his death Peter, his fellow Apostles and followers were relentlessly persecuted by Rome until the conversion to Christianity of the Emperor Constantine in the year 313. From the advent of Christianity Church and State were separated. This separation was exacerbated with the advent of the Protestant Reformation which resulted in many schisms within Christendom and hundreds of years of violence.

In the year 610, Muhammad reported receiving the words of the God from the Archangel Gabriel and wrote them down in what became known as the Koran. Several years later Muhammad and his followers would conquer Mecca in battle thereby uniting Church and State. Unlike in the West the separation of Church and State is historically and culturally alien within Islam.

The concepts of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are as foreign to Moslems as the concepts of Sharia Law and Fiqh are to Christians.

It is time for the United States to recognize some fundamental facts about Islam.

"Take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then if they turn away seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take no friend nor helper from among them" ~ Sura 4:89

At the death of the Prophet Mohammed a schism developed between Sunnis and Shiites over the legitimate successor to Mohammed. The depth of this schism between Shiites and Sunnis must not be underestimated and ought to be used to the advantage of the United States. In the Koran there are indeed admonitions for faithful Moslems to attack the Crusader (Christian) and the Jew but more importantly the Prophet Mohammed condemned the Apostate of Islam as a greater threat than either Crusader or Jew.

Approximately 85% of all Muslims are Sunni and Sunnis are the dominate population of Saudis Arabia, Egypt and most other Arab nations. Sunnis are also the majority in non-Arab Turkey and Afghanistan. Sunni Muslims constitute most of the Palestinian Muslim population.

Iran is the only nation with an overwhelmingly dominate Shiite population. Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain have large Shiite populations. The mixture of Sunni and Shiite populations in Iraq and Lebanon and the fact that they view each other as Apostates goes far in explaining the secular violence in these respective countries.

Prior to the United States choosing to go to war with Iraq Saddam Hussein (a Sunni) represented a buffer that protected the Shiites of the Arabian Peninsula as well as Israel from the Shiite dominated Iran.

“International incidents should not govern foreign policy, but foreign policy, incidents” ~ Napoleon

The tragedy of the United States first pre-emptive war in its history is that in geopolitical terms the United States broke what was not broken. It was Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida with support from the Taliban in Afghanistan attacked the United States and not Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact Osama Bin Laden despised Saddam Hussein. When Kuwait was invaded by Saddam, Osama begged the Saudis not to allow U.S. Military bases on the Arabian Peninsula that would be used to evict Saddam from Kuwait. The presence of foreign military bases on the Arabian Peninsula is expressly forbidden in the Koran. Osama offered his mujahideen forces that had already defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan to defeat Saddam and liberate Kuwait.

Osama is a Sunni who was born in Yemen but raised in Saudi Arabia. He is a devout Sunni who considered the secular Sunni Saddam Hussein an abominable Apostate. As a Sunni Osama also has a natural antipathy towards the Shiite Iran. The Saudi Arabian refusal to accept Osama’s offer to fight in behalf of the Saudis against Saddam prompted Osama’s flight to Afghanistan from Saudi Arabia. The United States would renege on its promise to abandon its military bases in Saudi Arabia at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. This would cement the hatred Osama Bin Laden has of the United States and the Saudi house of Fahd since in the Koran Mohammed prohibits the establishment of any foreign military forces on the Arabian Peninsula.

There was never an Islamic attack upon a U.S. embassy, vessel or American soil until after the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases upon the soil of the Arabian Peninsula.

“A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” ~Joseph Stalin

Saddam Hussein is an unsavory character but a breath of fresh air compared to Josef Stalin who was an invaluable ally to the United States in defeating Nazi Germany.

Americans forget that Saddam made his bones in fighting Iran from 1980-1988. It was Saddam who fought the Ayatollah Khomeini with the encouragement and support of the United States. In the first four years of war with Iran Saddam Hussein suffered 250,000 dead troops. In comparison the United States has had fewer than 3000 casualties in its past four years of war in Iraq.

Saddam hated Israel but he hated the Apostate Iranians even more. A great irony is that fact that had Saddam possessed WMD he would have been far more likely to have used them against Iran than the United States. This is fundamental to understanding how to “fix” Iraq.

“Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one” ~Karl Marx

The United States will never gain a military and political victory in Iraq using its current mode of fighting. Victory with reliance upon high tech weaponry and the avoidance of a high body count (of U.S. forces and the civilian population) is doomed to failure. Like the Battle of Stalingrad only the use of overwhelming force i.e. the firebombing of Bagdad and Fallujah can assure a military victory.

As in post war Germany and Japan military victory in Iraq would need to be followed up by giving billions of dollars in economic reconstruction aid to Iraq once the enemy has unconditionally surrendered. Astonishingly the the United States currently spends billions of dollars reconstructing enemy territory before the enemy has surrendered.

Prior to 1945 the United States never lost a major war. The Civil war was won with the burning of Atlanta. Dresden and Cologne were firebombed in Germany. The dropping of “Little Boy” on Hiroshima and “Fat Man” on Nagasaki brought Japan to her knees. Civilian casualties inflicted upon enemies of the United States have always been crucial in attaining victory. Since 1945 the United States has fought “politically correct” wars and has never won.

The United States must reestablish a buffer between the Arabian Peninsula including Israel and Iran.

To do this the United States must abandon the fantasy of democracy in Iraq and reinstate a Sunni strongman to bring order to Iraq and stand up against Iran. Democratic elections have been held among the Palestinians and in Lebanon. Hamas won Palestinian elections and Hezbollah won a large block of seats in the Lebanese Parliament.

President Bush is fond of proclaiming the virtue of democracy and often cites the democracies of Israel, India and Pakistan as thriving democracies who are also allies of the United States.

Lost in this argument is that the buttress of "Democracy" in these nations is: Religion.

There is a reason why the "Democracy" of Israel is called a: Jewish State; India: a Hindu State; Pakistan an: Islamic State

Each of these "Democracies" has inherent attributes that are hardly "Democratic" in American sense of the word.

In Israel for example majority rule was established by taking the land of both Muslim and Christian Palestinians and evicting them to refugee camps where they are denied full participation in the Israeli "democracy."

In Israel it is a fact that no religion (including Christianity) is allowed to actively proselyte for converts. It is against the law to do so. This is expressly against the concept of: Freedom of Religion but it is in keeping with the concept of a: Jewish State.

The policy of establishing “Democracy” in the Middle East is further eroded by the policy of the United States in supporting tyrannical regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. The misguided U.S. support of these tyrannies turns to folly as when the United States announces a multi-billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia. How many times does the United States need to arm its enemies only to have these arms turned against her? It was the United States that armed Osama bin Laden and his Mujahideen fighters with sophisticated weaponry in Afghanistan.

There is historical precedent for the taking a somewhat more dubious view of the ability of democracies to maintain peace. The fact is that WWI and WWII were initiated by Christian Democracies and not by Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish States. Hitler was "democratically" elected.
In the unlikely event of “Democracy” being established in the Middle East: Does the United States have any realistic reason to believe that its enemies will not win democratic elections in Iraq?

This would bring us full circle back to the geopolitical position prior to the U.S. intervention of troops in Iraq. While an eminently practical solution geopolitically this would be a poison pill domestically for the Bush Administration to swallow.

There is a second alternative to “fixing” Iraq but the second alternative demands that the makers of U.S. foreign policy and the American public ask a most provocative question: Why does the United States need to fight and die in Iraq to protect Israel?

“It was in our power to cause the Arab governments to renounce the policy of strength toward Israel by turning it into a demonstration of weakness.” ~ Moshe Dayan

The mid-term elections served as a mandate by the American people demanding the United States remove or substantially reduce its military forces from Iraq. This will create a power vacuum and it is an axiom of international politics that power vacuums are always filled. The question is: Will the power vacuum be filled by Iran or by a nation state that supports the interests of the United States?

Prior to the mid-term elections in the United States Israel had two of its soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah forces based in Lebanon and subsequently endured missile attacks by Hezbollah forces across the Israeli border with Lebanon.

Israel retreated from Lebanon. Israel did not even achieve their most minimal goal of the release of their soldiers who were taken hostage by Hezbollah. The Israeli retreat was due in large part by pressure from the United States insisting that Israel not be the catalyst for a wider war in the Middle East.

This humiliating defeat on the part of Israel and the inability of the United States to win in Iraq is a source of great succor to our enemies. Imagine: Two nuclear Super Powers unable to defeat insurgents who possess no nuclear weapons, tanks, planes, navy or high tech equipment. This is truly shock and awe!!!

The mid-term elections in the United States changed the dynamics of the Israeli-American relationship. If the United States cannot establish a situation in Iraq where the Iraqis step up so the United States can step down then it is time for Israel to step up so the United States can step down.

The kidnapped Israeli soldiers have not been released by Hezbollah. Hezbollah is reconstructing its missile sites and reinforcing its military forces and bunker positions in Lebanon. The Israelis have witnessed both the winning of over 30 seats in the Lebanese Parliament by Hezbollah and tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters demonstrating in Beirut for the overthrow of the current Lebanese government which is supportive of the interests of the United States.

Israel must bring their kidnapped soldiers home to Israeli soil either alive or in body bags.

Israel cannot allow Lebanon to fall into the hands of Hezbollah. The very survival of Israel as a nation would be threatened if the Shiite Crescent extended uninterrupted from Tehran continuously through Lebanon to the Israel’s northern border.

Israel must destroy Hezbollah. Hopefully this can be done with the active support of the Lebanese Maronite, Greek Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians and the tacit support of the Sunni and Druze Moslems in Lebanon and thereby establish a secure Lebanon which would constitute a buffer against potential Iranian aggression. This objective will only be obtained by the shedding of Israeli blood.

With the elimination of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the removal or substantial reduction of U.S. troops from Iraq the Iraqis would be forced to make a decisive decision: Make peace with each other or to destroy each other.

The United States would then be free to focus on the destruction of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is a known fact that members of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban operate in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.

With the United States preoccupied in Iraq the government of Pakistan has negotiated a treaty with the warlords of northwestern Pakistan in which the Pakistani government agreed not to send troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Adding insult to injury, Pakistan who ostensibly is an American ally refuses to allow U.S. troops into northwestern Pakistan to attack forces of Al-Qaeda or of the Taliban. Remarkably there is little outrage from the American public over this farcical situation.

Once free of the yoke that is Iraq the United States must focus on the destruction of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. American public opinion will support this objective since the United States cannot afford to lose the War on Terror.

If we lose the battle with Crassus and Pompey
We won't need a horse,
and if we win, we'll be
riding in Cillician ships from Brudesium. ~Frankel

There is a tragic irony in the fact that the War on Terror may well be lost not in the Middle East but on the border of the Rio Grande.

The dereliction of duty on the part of the political, intelligence and military leaders of this the United States is breathtaking.

In 1996, five years before 9/11/2001, Osama Bin Laden officially declared War against the United States. This was not done in secret.

The Declaration of War was published in Al Quds Al Arabia, a London-based newspaper. In this Declaration Osama Bin Laden not only declares War but he specifically states his grievances and objectives. This Declaration of War was also sent to several U.S. Embassies. It was published in newspapers in Europe and the United States. This Declaration of War may be the first such Declaration to be so detailed and precise in stating the reason(s) for declaring war, the means of war and the goals and objectives of war. Much can be gleaned from this document.

Every American citizen should be outraged that decisive action was not taken at that time to destroy al-Qaeda.

It is a mockery that George Tenant who was the head of the CIA under both Democratic and Republican administrations received that highest civilian honor this nation can bestow: The Medal of Freedom.


Osama bin Laden has issued another message to the United States.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Government and political pundits are using words such as "bizarre" and "rambling" to describe Osama's message and are fond of making fun of Osama's appearance.

Sadly ridicule and disparaging comments will do little to defeat a most formidable and deadly enemy.

Lost in the various commentaries about Osama's latest message is the question: Why after all these years a message from Osama? Why now? Why not last year, last month, last week, yesterday? Why now?

It is a fundamental truth of both Foreign Affairs and Warfare that to defeat your enemy you must first understand your enemy. You need not admire or respect your enemy but you must know your enemy. Think as your enemy thinks.

The tragedy of the U.S. response to Osama is that American Foreign Policy and military planning is filled with Hubris. Hubris is nothing new in the Foreign Policy of an Empire. King George III never believed the “rabble” in the colonies would ever win.

We ridicule when we should seek to understand.

Osama Bin Laden does nothing that is not thought out beforehand with great cunning and logic (albeit a logic we may not agree with).

Osama's code of conduct is dictated by Sharia Law. Sharia Law is not known or understood in the West and like most things that are not known or understood it is common to belittle it in the primitive belief that to ridicule an object is to dissipate fear of the object. Nonetheless Sharia Law has served Islam well for centuries.

U.S. Foreign Policy advisors would do well to understand Sharia Law. Such understanding may enable us to anticipate the actions of our enemies.

As one who has been crying in the wilderness of Foreign Affairs for a long time now let me postulate that the reason "Why now?" has a two fold answer:

1. Osama is required by Sharia Law to warn his enemies in advance of an attack.

2. Osama now has the ability to launch an attack upon U.S. soil that will far surpass in damage and death that of the attack of 9/11.

The answer to "Why now?" is simply that it took him several years to be in a position to know that he can attack at will.

The day will come after the carnage that the American people will ask:

1. Why did we not secure our borders and ports?

2. As a genuine nuclear power why can't Israel defend herself?

3. Why does the United States support the tyrannies of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait while calling for "democracy" in the Middle East?

4. Why does the United States not develop a Manhattan Project to develop an energy policy that will allow America never again to purchase Middle Eastern oil with money that funds our enemies?

5. Why did the United States search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the weapons of mass destruction that Al Qaeda sought were obtainable within the stockpile of nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union? Did our leaders not know that much of the Soviet arsenal had little inventory control and were stored in parts of the Soviet Union dominated by Muslims?

Tick tock. Only time will tell.

posted by: Lewis on 09.05.07 at 11:12 PM [permalink]

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