By Con George-Kotzabasis
The respectable and cerebrally sharp Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security advisor to president Carter, mounts an intellectually and strategically disrespectful argument, in the Washington Post on March 25, 2007, that the war on terror has created a culture of fear in America, and has a pernicious impact on American democracy and its psyche, and on US standing in the world. He contends, that the war in Iraq, could never had gained the congressional support it got, without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Further, that terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare. And he caps his contention by stating, that the war on terror “defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies”, and also creates a “sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger”.
It’s apparent that Brzezinski’s points are instigated by his experience of the Cold War era and Soviet communism–of which he was an exemplary acute observer and had identified clearly the dangers emanating from Soviet expansionism–and it’s precisely for this reason that are completely inapplicable to the undeclared “Hot War” that fanatical Islam is waging against the USA and the infidel West generally. To replicate the policies that were successful in eroding Communist power and finally casting it into the waste bin of history and apply them to an “ unidentified”, shadowy, religiously inspired fanatic enemy is not merely a lapse of historical nous but a totally inept and faulty strategy against such a foe. The fact that Communism was a limpidly identified enemy and precisely dangerous, was the cause that united the countries of the West and rallied them to stand behind the leadership of the USA. In contrast, it’s precisely because our present “presumed enemies” are lacking a “geographical context” that makes them nationally unidentifiable and hence an “imprecise danger”, is the reason that disunites Western countries and makes them reluctant, if not inimical, to stand behind the American leadership and strategy against global terror. Moreover, a false and unimaginative sense pervades many European countries that they are not equally endangered by global terror, like the USA is, and that they can wriggle themselves out of this danger by not engaging in the war against it and indeed, by appeasing the Islamic fundamentalists.
Further, Brzezinski’s psychology does not pass muster with the 9/11 portentous event. The latter was not, as he argues, the “psychological linkage” between its “shock” and the “postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” that led to war and which “had gained congressional support”, but the reasonable reaction of the Bush administration, or for that matter of any historically responsible administration, to a future ominous and more devastating attack by terrorists armed with WMD, and indeed, with “portable” nuclear weapons, supplied by rogue states such as Saddams’, on the United States. The war on terror, therefore, did not create “a culture of fear in America” (e.a.), as he contends, since this fear was an instinctual fear on the part of Americans of the great danger hovering over their lives in the aftermath of 9/11. This was illustrated by the fact that nearly ninety percent of Americans initially supported both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and this was the basic reason why it was also almost unanimously endorsed by congress. Hence, Brzezinski’s contention that this culture of fear had a pernicious impact on American democracy and on America’s psyche is baseless. Not to mention the fact that a culture does not spring up like a crop at the first droplet of rain. His culture of fear therefore is nothing else but a figment of his exuberant imagination.
Moreover, Brzezinski sublates, to use a philosophical term, he assimilates the terrorist who is a real entity into a “technique of warfare”. Averring that terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare. Who then is the enemy? Is he a disembodied being who uses this technique? Can one separate an enemy from the war technique he uses? And is the US led coalition in Iraq that is trying to deprive the terrorists of the wherewithal of this technique, i.e., factories that manufacture car bombs and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), not fighting an enemy? The fact is that the terrorist who is the mortal enemy of civilians knows only this technique and uses it effectively and lethally to achieve his goals, in the case of fanatic Muslims, against the Great Satan America and the infidels of the West.
Brzezinski also states that the war on terror has tarnished the US standing in the eyes of the world. But is this surprising when so many people in the world, and especially in Europe, wrongly believe and presuppose that it was American policies toward the Middle East and ultimately its “adventurism” in Iraq that fomented and increased global terror? What people under such gargantuan misconception would be congenial to US involvement in the war against global terror? And especially when US actions are perceived to be unilateral and lack the backing of other major nations and the UN? Is it conceivable that under such misperception–not to mention the serious tactical errors committed on the ground in Iraq by US strategists in the aftermath of Saddam’s defeat that justified to a certain extent the wrath of the critics of the war–that America would not have eroded its standing and tarnished its reputation? Besides, who would expect that a powerful nation such as the USA, especially being the sole superpower, in conditions of world peace when nations are not threatened by another superpower and are in no need to be protected by the US as in the past, would have the respect and affection of the rest of the world and not the enmity and hostility that rises from the curse of envy against the great and the powerful?
By all historical standards the war against global terror in the wake of 9/11 was fully justified and prescient in its aim to prevent a future ominous and much more devastating attack on the United States by terrorists, who would use weapons of mass destruction and indeed nuclear ones in their irreversible goal to destroy the Great Satan. And if America could be attacked so easily by al Qaeda and its affiliates then European nations that are saturated with Islamic fifth columnists and activated jihadists would be sitting ducks.
It’s this great existential threat to America and Western civilization that has prompted the US to mobilize its military might and its brave soldiers in a long war against global terror. But in spite the clarity and awareness of the Bush administration about the real stakes of the war, it made a grave psychological error with devastating consequences to its overwhelming public support of the war by deflecting the invasion of Iraq which was quintessential to the defeat of global terror to the issues (a) of finding the elusive weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and (b) building democracy in Iraq. When these two issues had apparently foundered and were at the same time associated with the difficulties the US led-coalition countenanced in suppressing the insurgency, the war ineluctably lost its popularity among the US electorate, and reached the levels of unpopularity of the Vietnam War. The American electorate didn’t give a damn about whether WMD would be found or not, everyone believed at the time that Saddam was in possession of them, nor had they a modicum of interest in building democracy in Iraq. What they were concerned with was their security, and on this basis they were prepared undeviatingly to support the war both in Iraq and Afghanistan and to endure the pain and sacrifices that it would entail. This was the stupendous blunder that the Bush administration had committed. By substituting the war in Iraq as an essential part of global terror with building democracy in Iraq, it lost the support of the American people in the face of the arduous and tough difficulties of the war.
However, notwithstanding the serious errors of the Bush administration its original war plan to fight al Qaeda, its affiliate bodies, wherever they raise their hydra’s head, and the rogue states that support them, remains historically unblemished and is a tribute to the strong leadership of the triumvirate of Bush, Blair, and Howard. This was a historic decision, to stand up and fight the religious fanatics that threatened the viability of Western civilization and its freedom. And not to fall to the historically and politically naïve and supine blandishments of the nipple-fed liberal intelligentsia that terrorism and its state sponsors, like the Soviet Union, could be contained or that their Allah anointed grievances could be negotiated. It’s for this reason that the judgment upon Bush, Blair, and Howard, not to mention the indomitable, but so maligned by the media, Vice-President Cheney, whether their stand against global terror and their involvement in the Iraq war was right or not, will be made by history and not by political opportunists and leadership pretenders, such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and our own, Kevin Rudd.