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When Sponsoring International Terrorism Doesn't Count

At National Review Online today I ask a fundamental question that simply must be answered in the minds of Americans going forward.

Are we, the United States, fighting a War on Terror, or are we just fighting a War on al-Qaeda Senior Leadership?

It is in context with a contrast between the latest Iraq Perspectives Project report on Iraq's pre-invasion links to international terrorism and the misleading media coverage on the same.

I hope you will give it a read and, more importantly, ask yourself and those around you, "Are we, the United States, fighting a War on Terror, or are we just fighting a War on al-Qaeda Senior Leadership?"


After reading most of the IPP material, and also many of the articles on the subject, your take on it is by far the most realistic and honest. Even a homeland security publication that I read daily got it "bass-ackwards." You're right, the "no smoking gun" line is parroted and the clear connection between Hussein and his sons with global terrorist activities is shunted aside. Reading the IPP document makes that clear.

Andy McCarthy's closing line is unfortunately so true:

The inexplicable shame of this is why the administration has silently allowed the anti-war Left and its own internal dissenters to solidify the "no connection" lie into a conventional wisdom that has irreparably eroded public support for the war effort.

We have discussed among us that the poor communication of the mission of this Global War on Terrorism, and the confusion of the place the removal of Hussein plays in it, has contributed to the general population's lack of understanding.

In simple terms, of course, this Long War is against Global Terrorism. While that includes the jihad, it also includes all other forms of terrorism. And it includes efforts against state sponsors of terrorism like Chavez. Frankly, if this was a war, simply against the al Qaeda senior leadership, then both Zawahiri and bin Laden would have been captured or killed before now.

The piece on NRO was fantastic, Steve. Keep up the great work

Our enemy is not simply al Qaeda, although they are certainly a part of it. We are fighting what Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen has called a "global insurgency". The insurgency consists of many groups, all around the world, who share the common goal of reestablishing the Caliphate and subduing the West. That this may sound fantastic does not make it less so, or less possible that it might well be achieved.

Al Qaeda is at the head of the snake. It is the "top" organization, but this is not a strict hierarchy. Neither Osama bin Laden nor his top aids are vital to its functioning. Killing them would have no more effect on winning the war than the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1968 had in ending the Vietnam War.

The left wants to limit the WOT to a very narrow police action against al Qaeda. They don't even see it as a war, nor do they see the enemy as anything more than terrorists. This is why they see it as a crime problem, rather than as the global insurgency that I believe it to be.

The bottom line is that the new IPP report shows that Saddam was deeply involved in supporting terrorism, whatever his formal links with any one organization.

Thanks to both of you.

I had intended to cite Dr. Kilcullen in the NRO piece, but somehow omitted it. Thanks for mentioning it here, Tom.

Readers can find it here:

Small Wars Journal: Countering Global Insurgency (PDF)