Austin Bay

The War on Terror does not have a Winston Churchill, a bulldog poet defending civilization with both visceral determination and energizing eloquence. It does have George Bush's spine and Tony Blair's oratory, however.

As a tandem, President Bush's "Iraq War" speech of Jan. 10 and Prime Minister Blair's "British defense" speech of Jan. 12 aren't the poetic equivalents of Churchill's "Iron Curtain" address or his best wartime declarations, but for anyone who cares about liberty, justice and the consequences of capitulation to terror and tyranny, Bush's and Blair's one-two deliveries state the case.

Bush's address received far more coverage and critique. The media focused on the president's "troop surge" component -- adding 20,000 U.S. troops to the coalition forces deployed in Iraq.

Reinforcements and withdrawals have always been an option in Iraq -- they are what U.S. commanders have called operational adjustments based on "current requirements and conditions."

That's why I have believed and continue to believe a troop surge alone is of minimal value, despite the case Bush makes that immediate conditions in Baghdad require more military presence.

The rest of the speech demonstrated the Bush administration has reached the same conclusion -- a conclusion Blair's subsequent speech reinforced.

Consider two specific policies Bush discussed. The "hydrocarbon law" he advocated is a version of the "oil trust" concept many economists and Iraqis have advocated for several years. The state of Alaska has a similar program. Iraq considered instituting an oil trust in the 1950s, prior to the demise of its monarchy. The oil trust would put several hundred dollars a year into the pockets of every adult Iraqi. It immediately invests everyone in the economic success of Iraq's new democratic government.

Bush also said provincial reconstruction teams will be revamped. Economic development officers will embed with security forces. He called for "ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas -- where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny."

In Department of Defense lingo, these are examples of "Unified Action." Unified Action means coordinating and synchronizing every "tool of power" America possesses to achieve a political end -- in this case, winning a global war for national survival against terrorists who hijack economically and politically fragile nations.

Have we failed to do this since 9-11? Yes. Up to this point, the military has improvised the economic and political components, yet they are the determinative elements in the Great 21st Century War for Modernity.


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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