Who Are We Really Fighting

By Jim Simpson

Every day we hear more reports about the rising Islamist threat. Stephen Emerson reports alarmingly about the Islamists hidden among us. Al Qaeda is reportedly alive and spreading all over the world – morphing into a many headed snake. Meanwhile, Iran has moved from bluster to bully as it seizes British sailors on the open sea and blatantly ignores worldwide demands to cease its nuclear program, while continuing to arm Iraqi terrorists in direct defiance of the United States. Islamist militants in Palestinian-controlled areas and Lebanon visibly flex their muscles both militarily and diplomatically, while Muslims worldwide stridently demand absurdly special treatment in the non-Muslim societies where they have settled. As a friend once said, paraphrasing Trotsky: “You may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in you.”

Without diminishing the threat these worldwide activities pose, it is important nonetheless to recognize that they are a distraction, a deliberate provocation designed to keep our eyes focused on the wrong enemy. The true threat is and always has been the worldwide communist movement, spearheaded by the Soviet Union (oh sorry, I keep forgetting, “Russia,”) and Communist China. And given the cacophony currently being raised by their Islamist provocateurs, I fear the sucker punch is not long in coming.

We are obsessed with routing out “al Qaeda” in Iraq but almost willfully ignore that the insurgency remains largely driven by the Iraqi Ba’athist party’s highly organized network, with assistance from their Ba’athist cousins in Syria. I fear that if we merely defeat al Qaeda, our misidentification of the enemy will lead us to give up the fight early, leaving the much more dangerous Ba’athist infrastructure in place. In such circumstances, we will soon be facing another Saddam. Similarly, it is easy to see a Shia-led Iraq fall into the Iranian camp if we leave. (I described this potential problem in great detail before the war started. See: Regime Change Means Eradicating the Ba’ath Party.)

The Russians initially trained, funded and equipped the Ba’athists in both Syria and Iraq. They taught them the tactics being used now in Iraq against us. They continued to provide Saddam with military advice during the first Gulf war and at least the beginning of the current one, and I remain confident that they provide the Ba’athist insurgents with some manner of support to this day. They assisted in the removal of Saddam’s WMD to Syria. According to defector Ion Pacepa, the former Romanian Intelligence chief, Russia long ago developed a contingency plan for all puppet states to hide WMD should Western powers appear close to exposing them. (Read all about that here.)

Russia is helping Iran develop nuclear weapons. Russia’s Ba’athist puppets in Syria train and arm Iran’s Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, as well as practically every other terrorist group operating around the globe. As for Iraq, Russia is indifferent as to whether it falls under the Iranian sphere, or returns to Ba’athist rule. In either case, it’ll be just another puppet. Russia only cares that we lose.

Russia’s strategy has always been to use others to do their fighting for them. It is also to make surrogate powers a threat to the US in and of themselves, both as a tactic to distract us from the true threat and to help insure that we fire first at the wrong enemy if it ever comes to that. And just as the notion of “Stateless” terrorist groups is a red herring, so is that of “rogue states.” (Note: to understand why the whole idea of “Stateless” terrorists is absurd, you need only examine the funding requirements for such activities and realize that their prospects for defeating a large nation unassisted are virtually zero. You have to believe that these groups have unlimited resources and will squander them on activities that can get them killed for no ultimate purpose. And if your answer is “Bin Laden” read here to understand why this is false too.) North Korea remains attached to Russia and China at the hip and does not operate independently on the world stage. It is just one front on the offensive line, as is Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and so, so many others.

I foresee for example, a possible scenario where a so-called “rogue state” like Iran or North Korea, fires a nuclear weapon at us. We respond in kind, and the Russians, feigning fear that they are the target, launch a massive retaliatory strike against us. Whoops, sorry comrade, our mistake!

The US needs to get clearer on who and what we are fighting. For starters, we need to eliminate the Ba’athist power base and obliterate Iran’s covert networks to win a decisive victory in Iraq. This will demonstrate both to ourselves and our enemies that we can win this kind of war and serve as an object lesson to the enemy that we are capable of making their chosen tactics very expensive.

By this measure we are currently losing.

However, I fear that if we give up, it will be the last time any politician musters the political courage necessary to confront this kind of warfare, and we will continue to face more and more of it until we are an island alone in the world against a sea of enemies. At that point it will start here at home, or we will merely be given an ultimatum with nuclear blackmail, and our feckless political class will fold like a reed in the wind.

For the longer term, we need to significantly increase both our military size and effectiveness – more troops, effective anti-missile defenses, as well as conventional weapons, where we may not have as much of an advantage as we think – and dramatically improve intelligence gathering.

I am not optimistic that any of this will get done. But if Hillary Clinton or some other Democrat is elected in 2008, we will assuredly go in the polar opposite direction.

Hard times ahead.

Businessman and freelance writer Jim Simpson is a former White House staff economist and budget analyst (1987-1993). His writings have been published in the Washington Times, FrontPage Magazine, DefenseWatch, Soldier of Fortune and others. You may read more of his articles on his blog, Truth and Consequences.