Today's column is for all hawkish Americans currently wrestling with looming doubts about the pointlessness of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and clubbing those doubts down with the much-mentioned perils of leaving Afghanistan to "the terrorists." In short, it's about how to "lose" Afghanistan and win the war.
And what war would that be? Since 9/11, the answer to this question has eluded our leaders, civilian and military, but it remains the missing link to a cogent U.S. foreign policy.
It is not, as our presidents vaguely invoke, a war against "terrorism," "radicalism" or "extremism"; and it is not, as the current hearts-and-minds-obsessed Afghanistan commander calls it, "a struggle to gain the support of the (Afghan) people." It is something more specific than presidents describe, and it is something larger than the outlines of Iraq or Afghanistan. The war that has fallen to our generation is to halt the spread of Islamic law (Sharia) in the West, whether driven by the explosive belts of violent jihad, the morality-laundering of petro-dollars or decisive demographic shifts.
This mission demands a new line of battle around the West itself, one supported by a multilevel strategy in which the purpose of military action is not to nation-build in the Islamic world, but to nation-save in the Western one. Secure the borders, for starters, something "war president" George W. Bush should have done but never did. Eliminate the nuclear capabilities of jihadist nations such as Iran, another thing George W. Bush should have done but never did -- Pakistan's, too. Destroy jihadist actors, camps and havens wherever and whenever needed (the strategy in place and never executed by Bill Clinton in the run-up to 9/11). But not by basing, supplying and supporting a military colossus in Islamic, landlocked Central Asia. It is time, as Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (USA ret.) first told me last April, to "let Afghanistan go." It is not in our interests to civilize it.
But we would "lose face" in leaving Afghanistan, supporters say. News flash: We lose face every day in Afghanistan executing a costly, impotent policy based on massive state bribery, the public devaluation of American life ("population protection" trumps "force protection"), and deference to Islamic custom, as when women Marines are ordered to wind head scarves under their helmets for missions. And the point of this mass American supplication? To win a local popularity contest in which the only competition is the Taliban. Earth to military geniuses: The people are already with you, or they're against you.
In other words, it's time to toss the policy of standing up Sharia states such as Iraq and Afghanistan onto that ash heap of history. It's time to shore up liberty in the West, which, while we are stretched and distracted by Eastern adventures, is currently contracting in its accommodations of Sharia, a legal system best described as sacralized totalitarianism.
Such a war -- to block Sharia in the West -- requires more than military solutions. For starters, it requires an unflinching assessment of Sharia's incompatibility with the U.S. Constitution, and legal bars to Sharia-compliant petro-dollars now flowing into banking and business centers, into universities and media. It absolutely requires weaning ourselves from Islamic oil -- what a concept -- and drilling far and widely for our own.
Halting the spread of Islamic law in the democratic West requires halting Islamic immigration, something I've written before. But there's another aspect to consider. On examining a photo of armed Taliban on an Afghan hill, it occurred to me that these men and others like them can't hurt us from their hilltops. That is, what happens in Afghanistan stays in Afghanistan -- or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia -- if we (duh) impose wartime restrictions on travel from and to Sharia states.
But that cramps our freedom, critics will say. Well, so does standing in line to de-clothe and show our toothpaste because Hani Hanjour might be on the plane. Funny kind of "freedom" we're now used to. And funny kind of war we now fight to protect it -- a war for Sharia states abroad while a growing state of Sharia shrinks freedom at home.
The faster we extricate our military from the Islamic world, the faster we can figure out how to fight the real war, the Sharia war on the West.