George W. Bush and the Fancy Theorists
Last week the press, discreet as always, published a nugget mined from the top secret National Intelligence Estimate. The banner headlines suggested that our intelligence experts believe the war in Iraq to be an impediment in the "war on terror" because it stimulates al Qaeda's recruitment.
They seemed to believe that they had finally discovered their Holy Grail. At last they had official sanction for the view that fighting in Iraq hurts our cause. Maybe now they could oppose the war without alienating an electorate that rarely votes for poltroons during a war.
The excitement didn't last long. George W. Bush shut the party down by declassifying the Key Judgments from the NIE. Now the world knows that the press got the story wrong. The NIE doesn't say that the war in Iraq is an impediment to our war on terror. It's like a palm reading, it doesn't really say anything at all. Here's the relevant bit:
The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
This was written by committee. It contains something for everyone and avoids any clear statements that might prove wrong. How was the press so absurdly misled?
Anybody who has ever experienced bureaucratic infighting will understand immediately what happened. Someone inserted the silly sentence about the Iraq conflict breeding resentment precisely so it could be wrenched out of context and leaked. That someone wanted to reinforce the Democrats' argument that they are fit to lead despite all their anti war foolishness.
The NIE doesn't say that the war in Iraq is counterproductive but that must be what a significant part of our intelligence apparatus believes. If not, the NIE's Key Judgments would probably never have speculated about resentment in the Muslim world and any such speculation would certainly never have seen the light of day. Some, at least, of our intelligence experts are antiwar moonbats.
Given the track record those experts have compiled, Democrats shouldn't be so eager to rely on any of them. Anyone who is tempted to take seriously what intelligence experts have to say about the strategic consequences of fighting in Iraq should take a lesson from the Ghost of Intelligence Past.
A sorry history of getting it wrong
The experts told President Roosevelt that Imperial Japan lacked the technology to attack Pearl Harbor. As Ronald Reagan took the oath of office the reigning intelligence consensus was that the Soviet Union would be with us always. That consensus hadn't changed even when George H. W. Bush was sworn in.
The experts told several presidents that "secular" Muslim leaders like Saddam Hussein would never cooperate with religious zealots like Osama Bin Laden. Some of those experts are still trying to defend that ludicrous miscalculation.
Last, but not least, remember the international intelligence consensus that Saddam was roosting atop a stockpile of WMDs.
If you're choosing up sides for a lively debate about geopolitical strategy, never pick the intelligence experts. They'll embarrass you every time. On this occasion the Democrats are stuck with them.
The Democrats and their expert allies would like us to believe that the effect of fighting in Iraq is to make our invincible enemies angrier, more numerous and more likely to murder us. This is nonsense distilled to it's pure essence.
When we fight, they fight
When you go to war your enemy will enlist people to fight you. You can't assess progress in a war by counting the number of people willing to take up arms against you.
Shortly before it surrendered, Japan mobilized its entire population to resist to the death the American invasion. The net result of our comprehensive demolition of the Imperial Navy and Army was to harden the resolve and increase the number of our active Japanese enemies. Our fighting then, as now, mobilized more fighters against us. No doubt that's why the U.S. Navy is still having trouble with those pesky kamikaze suicide attacks.
America's leftists and their sympathizers don't understand the utility of fighting in Iraq because they don't understand the utility of fighting anywhere.
They have decided that if people want to kill us it must be because of something we have done to give offense. For them, it follows that our grand strategy should be to make ourselves inoffensive. We should pay more deference to kleptocratic international bureaucrats, withdraw all our forces from the Arabian Peninsula and gift wrap six million Israeli Jews for their would—be murderers.
Military action is always offensive to the targets of it and, therefore, always counterproductive, at least on Planet Democrat.
Two different strategies
Here lies the crux of the dispute between George W. Bush and his political opponents both inside and outside the executive branch. It is a difference of opinion about strategy. The President of the United States thinks that the best way to defeat terrorism is to kill terrorists. His fractious subordinates and most Democrats prefer to think that if we keep a very low profile the terrorists will lose their passion for killing us.
I call this Democrat approach to geopolitics the "Fancy" strategy after a Reba McEntire hit. In the song a mortally ill and destitute mother delivers her teen aged daughter named Fancy into a life of prostitution with the advice
"just be nice to the gentlemen Fancy and they'll be nice to you."
This is pretty much what Democrats and their allies in the intelligence community are recommending to the rest of us. Of course, there is an important difference. Fancy's mother was articulating a strategy of desperation.
Democrats have inexplicably adopted a strategy of desperation as a strategy of choice, which creates a serious political problem for them. The nation's average intelligence is only average, but a clear majority is smart enough to understand that striving to be inoffensive is a losing strategy for a superpower.
The intelligence experts may be familiar with many factoids about our Muslim enemies. Evidently, however, some of them know almost nothing about the nature and history of our species. No human enemy is invincible, and the recipe for victory has been the same ever since one hominid first whacked another with a knucklebone. Kill enough enemies and those who remain will accept defeat and become harmless. Any military action that identifies and exterminates enemies is a step in the right direction.
It may be that we are not killing fast enough in Iraq to win a victory any time soon. It may be that our war needs to be much broader and more lethal to be decisive. This, however, is a criticism one never hears from left—leaning critics of the Bush administration.
They are too busy imploring us to be nicer in the hope that our enemies will be nice to us in return.
How can otherwise intelligent people be guilty of such comical foolishness?
Fear drives them to it. They domesticate the terrorist threat by treating it as a particularly dramatic form of protest against American policy. The reality of that threat is too terrible for them to contemplate.
Protests don't threaten our existence. Protesters can be appeased. If you are nice enough to them they may be nice to you. Islamofascists, on the other hand, want to dominate us, if they can't have their first choice which is to kill us off entirely. No wonder the left dare not even speak their name.
Nothing in the NIE will undermine public confidence (such as it is) in the Bush administration. Instead, the selective leak from that document should undermine confidence in our intelligence community. Some members of that community plainly lack the courage to be realistic about the strategic challenges we face. This disability makes them as useless as color blind interior decorators and much more dangerous.
Unfortunately we had to go to war with the intelligence apparatus we had, not the one President Bush would have chosen. Five years later that excuse is wearing thin. If the President accomplishes nothing else in the two years that remain to him, he needs to purge all the guys at Langley who are fatuously pronouncing that resistance to the terrorists is futile as they lie under their desks in the fetal position hiding from a world they dare not face.
J. Peter Mulhern is an attorney in the Washington, DC area and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.