Are We Winning The War on Terror?
True, it could have gone better - try to name a war that was perfect and tidy? But as with all major ideological struggles of human history, there is a terrible price to be paid by all sides. Vietnam, our most celebrated mistake, saw nearly 60,000 of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen lost in a foggy quagmire. In Iraq and Afghanistan, our basis for war was a response to continued terror against Americans and our allies over the span of decades.
Also true, Saddam had no discernible connection to the 9-11 attacks (and for the record, Bush never claimed he did), but his sponsorship of terrorism (payoffs to Hamas suicide bombers), continued attacks against our aircraft flying patrols in the southern "No Fly Zone," prior use of WMDs to slaughter tens of thousands, his constant thwarting of inspection teams and habitual breaking of U.N. resolutions was enough for this American President (with congressional approval) to make the hard decision.
Whether one believes in the later existence of Saddam's WMDs or not, that point will surely be debated until their discovery or proof of their destruction. The oft-repeated liberal mantra about how "Bush lied" overlooks the fact that he, and his administration, told the truth as the CIA and international intelligence agencies reported it. See this article by Factcheck.org.
But are we winning? Consider this new piece of evidence: A letter discovered on the body of Abu Zayd, al Qaieda in Iraq's Northern commander who was killed in recent weeks by coalition troops. The letter was addressed to his Superior Officer, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and shows an increasingly desperate alliance slowly coming apart.
Among Zayd's complaints to Zarqawi (courtesy of The Washington Times):
- "The Emirs (cell leaders) hold on to power until their capture or death and refuse to designate a successor, despite their incompetence."
- "The lack of diversity in the attacks and the unwillingness to go after the centers and headquarters especially when they are easy targets, and being content with sending suicide bombers after armored vehicles."
- "The lack of any legitimate organization in Mosul, in spite of the presence of rightful knowledge-seekers in Mosul."
- "Squandering the Muslims' money on petty expenses, cars and phones."
- "Reports to the Sheikh (Zarqawi) about the situation in Mosul are inaccurate and blurred."
"Shi'ites are rapidly concluding that al-Qaeda is serving no purpose," a Pentagon official told The Times. "I read the intelligence. Shi'ites are saying 'If you want the Americans out, get rid of al-Qaeda.'"
Reported also today was the death of Zarqawi's right-hand man, Abu Azzam, who was shot during a house raid in Baghdad Sunday night. When Azzam opened fire on coalition troops (including Iraqi forces) during the raid, he was shot dead. The assault on this insurgent leader's house was in response to a tip - which is occuring with more and more frequency as Iraqis tire of insurgent bloodshed.
It is also important to remember that Iraqi troops are growing in strength and confidence with every week, and the democratic process in both Iraq and Afganistan (though imperfect) is marching along.
It is easy to forget that about 50 million people were liberated, over 3,000 schools built, and suffrage for women instated. And though we are approaching 2000 fallen U.S. military in Iraq and 250 in Afghanistan, there have been no further successful attacks against American soil since 2001. None.
Are we winning? I believe a guarantor of failure would be to follow the weak-hearted pacifists or the misguided Sheens and Sheehans, which would surely put us right back where we were before standing up to terror. Perhaps, given the complacency of the Clinton administration that led us to this place, a better question is this: Is this one we can afford to lose?