By now you have been getting lots of free advice about what to say – and what not to say – in your remarks Wednesday about a new strategy for Iraq. Some of it, like Jim Baker’s recommendations that would have translated into our defeat, you have wisely rejected. You have evidently decided to accept others reflecting your laudable determination to prevail, including staff shake-ups and surging of forces.
The leaks depicting your decisions to date seem, however, to reflect the same miasma that has afflicted many of your critics – namely, the perception that strategic adjustments are in order only vis a vis Iraq. A variation on the theme is the mistaken belief that we can make changes in policy or strategy towards Iraq without acknowledging, let alone reckoning with, the fact that it is but one front in a far wider war.
In case the free advice you have taken aboard to date hasn’t addressed these points directly, I would respectfully suggest that you factor into your thinking the following suggestions:
First, at this moment of critical redefinition, you have to root your strategy for Iraq in the context of the larger, truly titanic and global conflict being waged against us by a totalitarian ideology. In the interest of clarity and a new sense of direction, you must give new names to the war and to the enemy we confront. It is no longer enough to describe the former as “the war on terror” and the latter as “terrorists.”
Today, we are engaged in “the War for the Free World,” a formulation that makes clear that nothing less than the future of freedom and Western civilization is at stake. And our principal enemies at the moment are adherents to “Islamofascism,” a term you have used twice before. Most Muslims want no more than the rest of us to live under the sort of repressive theocracy such ideologues seek. But unless the Islamists are stopped, most immediately – but not exclusively – in Iraq, we will surely confront their violent bids for power elsewhere, including here.
To be sure, you have made such points from time to time in the past. But it has never been more important to underscore this central reality behind the changes you will be announcing Wednesday. Not least, by so doing, you can make clear why it is impossible simply to acquiesce in the face of congressional criticism and negative polls to alternative strategies that will result in a terrible loss for the Free World in Iraq – and further embolden its enemies and their enablers.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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