Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 29, 2003 / 1 Elul, 5763

Michael Ledeen

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The Peace Trap: Back to the war, please | For the second time in as many years, President Bush has fallen into a trap designed to prevent an American victory against the forces of terrorism in the Middle East. The original trap — sprung in early 2002 after the decimation of the Taliban and al Qaeda — was the so-called "Saudi peace plan," according to which the United States was not entitled to liberate Iraq until and unless the Palestinian question was "solved." It should have been obvious that this was merely an effort to stall our war against the terror masters, since many of the finest diplomatic and strategic minds in the world had failed to "solve" the problem for more than half a century, and the Saudis themselves were actively funding the very Palestinian terrorism that guaranteed the failure of any solution. But every Arab country, virtually all of Europe, and our own diplomats, from Secretary of State Colin Powell on down, urged the president to go for it.

This delayed Operation Iraqi Freedom for many months, until President Bush realized that nothing could be accomplished with a Palestinian tyranny, whereupon he abandoned the Saudi plan, declared Yasser Arafat persona non grata, and pressed ahead with the war. But the long delay proved very costly. Had we proceeded quickly against the terror masters in Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus (with explicit warnings to Riyadh that they would be next if they did not stop financing both terrorist organizations and the network of radical jihadist schools and mosques that inculcated fanaticism around the world), we would have had considerable international support, especially if our war employed a mixture of military and political tactics (Iran, for example, required no military action at all, but modest support for a democratic revolution already under way). But the delay enabled the major opponent of the war — notably France, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, Syria, and Egypt — to drag us into the quagmire of the United Nations for even further delays, and sabotage our support in Turkey and elsewhere.

Moreover, by stalling the second battle in the war, our regional enemies in Iran and Syria had plenty of time to plan their response to our pending occupation of Iraq. As they unhesitatingly and publicly proclaimed to anyone who cared to listen, they organized a terror war against us, accompanied by jihadist propaganda, mass demonstrations, and hostage seizures, just as we experienced in Lebanon in the 1980s. And they were true to their word. The mounting terror campaign speaks for itself, and, at last count, more than ten Iranian-sponsored radio and television stations were broadcasting in or into Iraq.

In other words, we cannot win in Iraq without defeating the other terror masters as well. Simple common sense required that we do what President Bush proclaimed shortly after September 11: move forcefully against the terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor and support them. But we did not do that. Instead, the president permitted himself to be dragged into the same trap he fell into after Afghanistan: delaying any further action until the Israel/Palestinian problem was "solved." This time it was called a roadmap, but, both in concept and consequence, there was no meaningful difference between this scheme and the earlier Saudi trap. Just as it was folly to believe that peace could be achieved in any part of the Middle East merely because Afghanistan had been freed of the grip of the terror masters, so it was a mistake to expect terror to end simply because Saddam Hussein had been overthrown. Just as the delay after Afghanistan permitted our enemies to organize their political, diplomatic, and terrorist forces against us, so our current defensive stance enables them to intimidate and indoctrinate the Iraqi people, murder our own men and women on the ground, and galvanize the president's critics and opponents, both at home and abroad.

Donate to JWR

The president gave voice to a welcome revolutionary doctrine when he refused to deal with Yasser Arafat: He said that just as only free Middle Eastern countries could be expected to abandon terrorism and join us in fighting it, only a free and democratic Palestinian people could make a durable peace with Israel. But he has ignored a key corollary to that axiom. There can be no peace anywhere in the region so long as the terror masters are free to operate. In recent weeks many of the recent attacks in Israel have been tracked back to Iran, at the same time that numerous Iranian terrorists have been arrested by Iraqi police and turned over to American forces.

So long as President Bush remains entrapped by the false vision of the "peace process" and plays defense in Iraq, initiative passes to the terror masters. He often speaks as if he understood his peril, but his diplomatic and military policies remain paralyzed by false vision. Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia organize, fund, and support the terror war in Iraq, but instead of supporting freedom fighters in Iran to topple the world's major sponsor of terror, we plaintively implore the mullahs to hand over some al Qaeda leaders so we can get on with lifting sanctions and "normalizing" relations. Instead of bringing real pressure to bear on the Baathist regime in Syria and the cunning Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, we plead with the tyrannical leaders of those countries to behave better, so we can have better relations.

This is unworthy of a serious country, and the peoples of the region — whose destiny is at stake in this matter. Understand that while we say we're at war, we're certainly not waging it at the moment. Unless we escape from the trap, it is only a matter of time before our soldiers and diplomats in Iraq fall prey to the terror masters on a greater scale.

The longer we delay the inevitable reckoning, the more costly it will be. It's time to get out of the trap and resume the war.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


08/27/03: Angrier and Angrier: Self-deception, big-time
08/25/03: Iraq's terrorists have friends in high places
07/10/03: The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line
07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen