If we accept the Obama Administration’s characterization of who we are fighting at home and abroad, it is inappropriate to use the military, perhaps even the CIA, to go after them. In a recent interview, Attorney General Eric Holder repeatedly rejected the idea that ideology was even part of the motivation for the actions of the Times Square bomber. He declared that the would-be bomber had a variety of other motivations.
Similarly, according to Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, “Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.” Instead, Brennan opined that the enemy is “the political, economic and social forces that can make some people fall victim to the cancer of violent extremism.” There you have it; we should be “at war” with inequality and unfairness overseas.
If the administration is correct in its characterization of whom we are fighting, there is no organizing principle or strategic purpose behind our enemies’ actions. Indeed, how can they even be referred to as enemies? What motivates them? Hatred? But without an ideological rationale for this hatred, an intellectual basis for a campaign against this country and our interests, their behavior is merely psychopathic. What they are is a loose, even accidental, agglomeration of individuals with a variety of grievances who happen to be violent. They are a gang.
How is it appropriate to employ the full force of the U.S. military on a gang of psychopaths who do not even have a clear design against us? Extending this same line of questioning, isn’t the CIA campaign of targeted assassinations of Al Qaeda leaders criminal behavior on our part? Moreover, if the adversary is a collection of political, economic and social forces, what is the justification for conducting such operations against individuals who are themselves victims? Continuing along this logical track, I must conclude that our use of force is entirely disproportionate to the threat posed to the U.S. Thus, we are in violation of international law and guilty of war crimes.
The disconnect between the Obama Administration’s arguments about the nature of our so-called adversaries and U.S. actions against them is stunning. There is greater justification for carpet bombing Mexican drug cartels than for using military force against Al Qaeda. Turning the argument around, we do not employ military force, or execute targeted assassinations against drug gangs, even when they kill American citizens or engage in hostilities in the United States. We use civil agencies such as local police, the FBI, Border Patrol and ICE. We arrest individuals and prosecute them. Why should it be any different, based on the arguments put out by the Obama Administration, in the case of Al Qaeda or those who follow a similar path?
Clearly, the Obama Administration has tied itself in a policy version of the Gordian Knot based on its absurd, twisted public positions. This threatens the administration’s ability to conduct an effective counterterrorism campaign or to sustain American public support for these efforts. The only solution is to cut the knot. We are confronted by an adversary with a campaign plan based on a strategic objective that is ideologically derived and justified in religious terms, including the use of the concept of violent jihad in its most aggressive, militaristic form. It is as purposeful, malevolent and even malignant as any of the ideologically-based adversaries we fought in the last century. That the current adversary perverts the teachings of Islam — as did Soviet Communism of the doctrines of Marx — is tragic but irrelevant. The fact is that this enemy uses those teachings as the basis for its strategic plan, concept of operations, rules of engagement, recruiting program and choice of targets.
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