Saturday, January 10, 2009

Defeating Al Qaeda Everywhere

It is critical to defeat Al Qaeda, wherever they may be.

Not just in Afghanistan. Not just in Iraq. Not just in southeast Asia. Not just in Somalia. Not just here at home, but everywhere.

To allow them safe haven is dangerous. To let them operate freely is foolish. To allow them an attack without rebuttal or to engage and then shrink from them is both.

History has shown time and again that those who possess the jihadist mentality will gather, train, plot, and attack when allowed to do so. She has also shown that success begets their success, increases recruiting into their ranks, and emboldens them for future actions.

The benefits they reaped from our weak or even lack of response to past attacks prove as much. Whether allowing them safe haven in Afghanistan through the 90’s, or responding poorly to attacks such as those against the embassies in Africa, not being equal to the threat has cost us.

The current battles in Iraq and Afghanistan further illustrate the point.

After the fall of Hussein, an opening was made for Al Qaeda to enter Iraq, cause instability, and try to create a safe haven of their own from which they would spread. It had worked for them in Afghanistan and it is well documented they saw an opportunity to do so again in Iraq.

An inadequate counterinsurgency plan on our part allowed Al Qaeda some success. When other jihadists from around the world saw this, they became emboldened to fight and flocked to Iraq. Any small victory encouraged them to attack further, as did the defeatist rhetoric coming from liberals within the U.S.

That piece of history is critical to understanding why defeating them at every turn is important. Even the perceived success they were having was enough to encourage others of a like-mind to join the fray, increasing the difficulties in Iraq. The same would be (and has been) true wherever they may be found.

The Surge proves what happens when you target and crush them.

We’ve been relentless against them for a year and a half. The word is out; Iraq is a losing fight for the Jihadists. As a result, the influx of jihadists is minimal, even negligible. The cycle has been broken. They have lost the edge, and with it the courage to fight.

However, freedom to operate in the Afghan-Pakistan border region has allowed them a safe haven to gather, train, and attack from. At one point we most certainly had them on the run. But as they do, Al Qaeda found and exploited a niche in the unmonitored areas of the border.

We’ve followed reports for some time of their gaining numbers in that lawless, inaccessible area. Once again, allowing them to operate unchecked has enticed others to join.

The Pentagon has been right in planning additional troops for Afghanistan. Remember the stories starting last October about the Marines shifting focus from Iraq to Afghanistan? The additional Marines sent in earlier this summer have shown the effectiveness of reinvigorating the fight on our behalf.

More troops are needed, but what’s needed more is a solution to the safe haven Al Qaeda has just inside the Pakistani border. Without it, they will be bolstered because they can act with impunity.

Here again is the critical point. Allowing them to operate freely and fight without responding adequately (as perceived by Al Qaeda because we can’t fully pursue) builds their confidence and has created a recruiting opportunity.

Now here’s where liberals get it wrong, including their poster boy, Obama.

They clamor for more troops in Afghanistan, but they do so only to disguise the call for defeat in Iraq, not necessarily to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

It is likely they lack both the intestinal fortitude and wherewithal for this kind of fight in either place, because if defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq isn’t important, why is it important in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world for that matter? It’s not, nor can it be under their partisan, political logic.

Shrinking from a fight against Al Qaeda anywhere will only repeat history and embolden them for more attacks. Liberals can try to ignore them in selected places where it’s politically expedient to do so, but that won’t make Al Qaeda go away.

Reality lies with defeating Al Qaeda wherever they may be, not just where it’s politically correct to act like you want to.

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