WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu taught his men to "know your enemy" before going into battle. For if "you know your enemy and know yourself," he wrote, "you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." But, Sun Tzu warned, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."
In my 22 years as an officer of Marines -- from Annapolis to The Basic School to the Naval War College -- similar advice was drilled into us: to know your enemy. It's sound guidance, pretty basic stuff, really. Yet there are apparently those in our government -- people with many years of experience, supposedly learned statesmen, according to their bios and press reports -- who somehow don't get it.
Our present enemy, properly identified by President George W. Bush and his National Security team, is the radical Islamic jihadist terror movement. Our enemy is not limited to Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda, though they certainly fit the bill. Radical Islamic jihadist terrorists, principally financed by Saudi petro-dollars, also carry out their killing under the rubric of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, Ansar al-Islam and dozens of other names. And though they use different monikers, they all have a common goal: to kill as many Americans, Christians and Jews as they can, using whatever tools they have at their disposal.
While these barbaric groups prefer mass killings and spectacular events like 9-11, they are more than willing to settle for individual atrocities: a suicide bus-bomber in Israel or the gruesome beheading of a single hostage. They know they can count on the Internet, Arabic-language broadcast media, of which Al Jazerra is but one, and even Western press outlets to help them spread fear.
These enemies are utterly ruthless, and indescribably brutal. Though the leaders of these groups do all they can to avoid death or capture, their "foot soldiers" are not only willing to die for their cause -- they want to die. And unlike our adversaries of the past, this enemy is not motivated by goals that inspired armies of old: land, treasure, strategic waterways or natural resources. Today's enemy is instead goaded by a twisted belief that they have a holy mission to advance their religion and drive Western influence -- meaning Judeo-Christian values -- from any Islamic territory.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.