Mixed signals from the Bush administration
Twoweeks ago, the Bush administration sent profoundly mixed signals about its attitude toward the War for the Free World and the enemies who threaten us and other freedom-loving peoples.
On the one hand, there was the president’s commendable reaction to the murderous plot to destroy as many as 10 passenger aircraft bound from Britain to the United States. George W. Bush correctly, and courageously, declared “We are at war with Islamic fascists.”
This is not the first time Mr. Bush has used such a formulation. But the timing of this statement — amidst intense media and public interest in the breaking story out of the U.K. — caused his characterization of our foes as Islamic fascists to receive considerable attention. It also prompted the “usual suspects” (such as the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations or CAIR) to rush forth to denounce such a clear and accurate depiction of the totalitarian character and political agenda of our enemies.
Although his critics accused the president of misrepresentation, it was they who engaged in such a practice. For example, CAIR falsely charged he had “equated the religion of peace [Islam] with the ugliness of fascism.” In fact, Mr. Bush did something altogether different — and laudable: He made clear that those who use Islam to justify and provide political cover for their totalitarian aggression are at odds not only with America but with Islam, itself. Such dangerous ideologues cannot be appeased. They must be destroyed.
Unfortunately, at virtually the same moment Mr. Bush helpfully clarified what we are up against, his subordinates were busily handing Islamic fascists their greatest victory since they drove the United States out of Somalia in March 1994: an artificial and unsustainable cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon. The content and timing of the U.N. Security Council resolution adopted unanimously on Aug. 11 represent a defeat for the Free World — especially the United States and Israel — and will protect and greatly embolden their Islamofascist foes, Hezbollah and its sponsors, Iran and Syria.
My brilliant colleague, Center for Security Policy Fellow Caroline Glick, has enumerated the reasons why in a powerful condemnation in the Aug. 13 Jerusalem Post. Among them are the following:
“In practice, [the resolution] makes it all but impossible for Israel to defend itself against Hezbollah aggression without being exposed to international condemnation on an unprecedented scale.”
“The resolution places responsibility for determining compliance with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. [He] has distinguished himself as a man capable only of condemning Israel for its acts of self-defense, while ignoring the fact that in attacking Israel, its enemies are guilty of war crimes. By empowering Annan to evaluate compliance, the resolution all but ensures that Hezbollah will not be forced to disarm and that Israel will be forced to give up the right to defend itself.”
“The resolution makes absolutely no mention of either Syria or Iran, without whose support Hezbollah could neither exist nor wage an illegal war against Israel. In so ignoring Hezbollah’s sponsors, it ignores the regional aspect of the current war and sends the message to these two states that they may continue to equip terrorist armies in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq with the latest weaponry without paying a price for their aggression.”
“[The new Security Council resolution] puts both the question of an arms embargo and Hezbollah’s dismantlement off to some future date when Israel and Lebanon agree to the terms of a ‘permanent cease-fire.’ In addition, it places the power to oversee an arms embargo against Hezbollah in the hands of the Lebanese government, of which Hezbollah is a member.”
“From a U.S. perspective, the resolution drastically increases the threat of a radical Shi’ite revolt in Iraq. Hezbollah is intimately tied to Iraqi Shi’ite terrorist Muqtada alSadr. In April 2003, Hezbollah opened offices in southern Iraq and was instrumental in training the Mahdi Army, which Sadr leads. During a demonstration in Baghdad [two weeks ago], Sadr’s followers demanded he consider them an extension of Hezbollah, and expressed a genuine desire to participate in Hezbollah’s war against the U.S. and Israel.”
President Bush is to be commended for his effort to make plain the danger posed by Islamofascists. By so doing he has also implicitly underscored the imperative of waging this war on the ideological level — what Donald Rumsfeld has called the “battle of ideas.” For far too long, America has done far too little to fight and win on this front of the War for the Free World. We can no longer afford to do so.
Tragically, the Bush administration has simultaneously dealt itself a major tactical setback — and perhaps a serious strategic one — in that war. By negotiating and supporting a cease-fire that leaves some of the most virulent and aggressive adherents to the Islamofascist ideology in business, it has not only strengthened Hezbollah. It emboldened its state-sponsors and fellow-travelers the world over.
The cease-fire effectively negotiated with Islamic fascists (albeit through Lebanese and European surrogates), will surely prove an interlude, not a permanent suspension of hostilities between Hezbollah and its sponsors on the one hand, and the Free World on the other. The length of that interlude and the magnitude of the danger we will confront thereafter can only be surmised at this juncture. It seems a safe bet at this juncture, however, that if the fighting resumes on the Islamofascists’ terms and timetable, the threat to Israel, the United States and other freedom-loving nations will be substantially greater even than it is today.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a columnist for The Washington Times.