American Elephants

From “War In The Absence of Strategic Clarity” by Mark Helprin by The Elephant's Child

From September 17, 2003

The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought. And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right. The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Not surprisingly, militant Islam arises from and makes its base in the Arab Middle East. The first objective of the war, therefore, must be to offer every state in the area this choice: eradicate all support for terrorism within your borders or forfeit The first existence as a state. That individual terrorists will subsequently flee to the periphery is certain, but the first step must be to deny them their heartland and their citadels.

Borrowed from Gerard Vanderleun @ American Digest

A Little Straight Talk Clears the Air by The Elephant's Child

The following is an excerpt from an essay in the Claremont Review of Books about wars and how they end. This excerpt refers to Lessons for a Long War by Thomas Donnelly and Fredrick Kagan of AEI.

Today the United States is engaged in a worldwide struggle with militant Islamist terrorists and insurgents—a true war and one that has already lasted decades.  Many Westerners would like to think that the stakes of this war are not vital; that it is all the result of some terrible misunderstanding; that the United States itself may be primarily to blame; and that in any case we can and should disengage ourselves at little cost. … But the jihadists understand the nature of this struggle better than we do.  All we have to do is listen to them, since they are happy to state their claim.  They say very clearly and with obvious conviction that they aim at the restoration of a trans-national Islamic caliphate; the overthrow of secular governments within the Arab world and beyond; the complete ejection of Western influence from the non-Western world; the restoration of Islamic rule in historically Muslim territories; the destruction of Israel; and the death of millions of Americans.  They declare not only that they are at war with the United States, but that this war can have no ending short of utter defeat for one side or the other.  And they pursue this war primarily through the deliberate killing of innocent civilians — a barbaric policy not adopted even by Nazi Germany.  One would think that the moral and geopolitical stakes could hardly be clearer.  Yet somehow respectable mainstream thinking in Western intellectual circles has come to the conclusion that this is a morally troubled and overhyped struggle.  Indeed, Barack Obama said as much when running for president.

I thought that was a strikingly true and correct statement by Colin Dueck who is an associate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University. He is the author, most recently of Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II.

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