Getting back to Bush basics

Posted: Aug 22, 2005 12:00 AM

It's not enough to say that world affairs are in a crazy state, and leave it at that -- which is exactly what I did last week in outlining how the United States is effectively boosting the spread of sharia law and the Iranian sphere of influence in the Middle East. It's easy to say this is nuts. But what do we do now?

It's time to get back to basics. And by basics, I mean getting back to First Term W, back to when the president's strategy to defend and protect the United States was to take military action against terrorists and the nations that sponsor them. By unfortunate contrast, the security strategy of Second Term W is best described as bringing to these same terrorists and the nations that sponsor them universal suffrage. Getting back to Bush basics requires a re-reckoning of what and why we fight -- and, just as important, for what and why we don't fight.

 Do we fight to spread democracy? Or do we fight to stop jihad? Far better to fight to stop jihad. Second Term W believes democratic principles will neutralize jihad -- a.k.a. "extremism" in the strangled parlance of political correctness. It may not be polite to notice, but the nasty reality is that jihad is neutralizing democratic principles. The fact the administration must reckon with is that the concept of human rights -- the ideal of liberty and justice for all -- isn't a natural byproduct of majority rule. Islamic terrorists still support Islamic terrorism, even when, as in the Palestinian Authority or Lebanon, they are democratically elected; and Islamic sharia erodes human rights, even when, as in Afghanistan and likely Iraq, it is implicitly mandated by a constitution.

It's time for the administration to consider the possibility that the democractic process alone -- constitutions, legislatures, ballot boxes -- doesn't result in Jeffersonian democracy. Such a re-reckoning doesn't mean abandoning Iraq. But it does mean reordering our goals. Forget the Iraqi constitution for now. More important is a single-minded effort to eradicate the death squads that destabilize the country and threaten to exhaust our staying power. In getting back to Bush basics, that means taking action against the nations that sponsor these terrorists: Iran, for instance.

Tragically for the human race, the strategy articulated by First Term W is a novel, never-before-implemented doctrine. Re-reading Claire Sterling's "The Terror Network" (Holt, Rinehart and Winston), a 1980 work of careful analysis that unraveled the Soviet-sponsored tangle of terrorists from the Baader-Meinhof Gang (now defunct) to various Palestinian terror groups (now approaching statehood), drives home the shocking fact that throughout the 1970s -- the first real "fright decade" of terrorist kidnappings, assassinations, embassy takeovers and bombings designed to destabilize mainly Europe, often in the name of Palestinianism -- the Western democracies never took action against, never even mentioned the names of, terrorism's state sponsors. This was the time of the Cold War, and a craven policy of "soft neutrality" toward the terror masters in the Kremlin and its proxies prevailed.

More astonishing, the democracies never took action against the extensive network of martial training camps that turned out tens of thousands of deadly terrorists, not only in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European "bloc" countries, but also in Cuba, Libya, Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, South Yemen and North Korea. These camps for killers -- camps for killing Western democracy -- functioned freely under clear skies never penetrated by a NATO bomber. This was a moral surrender that undermined Western civilization to an incalculable extent. Nothing really changed (Ronald Reagan's one-time bombing of Libya notwithstanding) until Sept. 11 and George W. Bush.

This little history lesson should ring a bell, particularly in light of Time magazine's report about how Iran has marched its Revolutionary Guard units into Iraq to kill Americans -- units that, according to Time, train in Iraq's Sadr City district, Lebanon and "another country" (very possibly diplospeak for Iran).

Putting this together with a most encouraging discussion of America's massive Air Force potential against proto-nuclear Iran from The Guardian (flagged by the blog View from the Right) makes me wonder: Can Iraq ever be stabilized without de-fanging Iran? Shouldn't there be, for starters, a big bull's-eye on these Iranian training camps?

Such questions need addressing. It's not enough for Donald Rumsfeld to glancingly refer to, in an interview, Iranian interference in Iraq, or for the president to let drop that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran's compliance with international nuclear regulation. We need to be educated, not left wondering in what sounds like pusillanimous silence. We need to be prepared. We need First Term W.