Austin Bay

It may not look that way, for the "metrics" in the War on Terror don't conform to World War II-type shifts in geographic frontlines and casualty counts, but in the midst of WWII the metrics of battles and miles also lacked certainty.

"Asymmetric" war has "asymmetric" metrics. One measure is the lack of a second 9-11 on U.S. soil. We've indications al-Qaida and its affiliates have tried. We've experienced minor terror attacks -- for example, the "sudden jihadi" who smashed his car into passersbys in North Carolina.

Islamo-fascist terrorists have murdered en masse from Bali to Madrid, but there's been no second 9-11 in America. Perhaps Rickey's residue has played a part, but we've also gotten smarter. It's not simply the inspection regimen. The passengers know the stakes, and the passengers are at war.

American-led offensive action has also taken the war to its source: the politically dysfunctional Middle East. That's by design. A terrible yin-yang of tyranny and terror afflicts the Middle East. Defeatist hotheads who natter about "root causes of terror" must understand the taproot of terror is tyranny, not poverty.

Iraq's free elections and its new democratic government -- by design -- offer an alternative to the tyrants' and the terrorists' violent dynamic. Sept. 11 was an "asymmetric" terror attack on a "conventional" America. Iraq is "asymmetric" offensive political action led by America, an offensive designed to empower Middle Eastern societies that will police terror, not promote it.

In July of this year, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and said, "Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror."

The violent dynamic isn't broken -- but Arab Muslims are now fighting for their own freedom. Five years after 9-11, that isn't a design, but a fact.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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