"In war, there is no substitute for victory"- General Douglas MacArthur
Recent events in Pakistan, with President Pervez Musharraf declaring marshal law featuring the dissolution of the supreme court, suspension of the constitution, mass arrests of political opponents among other things, has underscored the abject failure of the Bush Administration's entire strategy in our mis-named "War on Terror". Called a "Forward Strategy for Freedom", the plan was to spread "Democracy" throughout the Middle East, thus neutralizing the main breeding ground for terrorism.
But "Democracy" does not mean freedom. In the absence of a firm and unequivical philosophy of individual rights and the proper role of government embodied in a constitution, democracy means unlimited majority rule. This failure to distinguish between a democracy and a constitutional republic (which is a growing problem even in the United States) is backfiring across the mid-east and has greatly increased the strength and long term threat to the West of Islamic totalitarianism.
By equating the "right to vote" (which is a derivative, not a primary right) with freedom, voters across the region (who have no belief in the doctrine of the separation of religion and state) have gleefully installed into power or strengthened
Islamic forces hostile to true freedom. In Iraq, a constitution based on Islamic Law was allowed by America to be enacted. Subsequently, a Shiite-dominated government with strong ties to the Iranians was elected leading to the possibility that we may have created a second Iran.
In other elections, the terrorist group Hezbollah made strong gains in Lebanon, and the Palistinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza) saw the rise to power of Hamas. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (an early precurser to the modern Islamic Totalitarian movement) is winning elections and gaining influence there.
In Pakistan, the superficial democracy under the dictator Musharraf (who seized power in a military coup in 1999, then got himself elected in a disputed election) has given way to outright authoritarianism. The move was triggered, at least in part, by the threat posed by a resurgence of Islamic Fundamentalism there. Thus we are now in the position of having to support a dictator who has been an "ally" in the "War on Terror" and to whom we have given over $10 billion in aid over the last six years, thus contradicting the entire "Foward Strategy of Freedom". Or we call for Musharraf to submit to "democracy" and run the real risk of yet another electoral victory for Islamic Totalitarian forces, this time creating a nuclear armed Islamic state. Conditions there look eerily similar to 1979 Iran just prior to the fall of the Shah, the American embassy hostage crisis, and the rise to power of the Ayatollahs.
Nowhere in the region has the "democracy" crusade given rise to a movement for freedom. On the contrary, Islamic Totalitarian forces have made gains under democracy that they couldn't have dreamed of prior to 9/11, all with the blessing of our democratization strategy. At the same time, true secular liberalization forces, such as they exist, are demoralized and in retreat around the region.
The President Bush that I (and most Americans) once supported no longer exists. Where is the Bush that declared "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists". Where is the President Bush that equated, correctly, states that sponsor terrorism with the terror organizations themselves, vowing to remove them from power. Where is the Bush that vowed to act in America's self defense regardless of "world opinion". Perhaps that President Bush never really existed.
Today Afghanistan and Iraq have turned into "welfare wars", with money and blood being spent with no end in sight. Syria and especially Iran aid and abet with impunity the killing of American Soldiers. And both Hezbollah and Hamas receive material and logistical support from those two regimes, especially Iran. Meanwhile, a rejuvenated Taliban gathers its strength unimpeded (apparently) in the mountains of northwest Pakistan. The perception in the Muslim world seems to be that America will be defeated and retreat. This has emboldened the primitive enemy that we face.
This is not to say that President Bush hasn't had some significant successes. For example, we haven't been attacked on our own soil since 9/11, despite repeated attempts by our enemies. But at this juncture, the big picture is deteriorating badly. The growing power of totalitarian Islam across the Middle East portends a much bigger and bloodier war down the road. I hope I am wrong. There is always the possibility that developments behind the scenes paint a more optimistic picture. For example, although details are sketchy, Israel apparently destroyed in an aerial attack a Syrian nuclear facility (possibly provided by North Korea) in September. But I doubt it. Bush is a lame duck. The appeasement-minded Democrats are ascendant, and Americans are confused and demoralized.
What is needed at this point is fresh thinking on the nature of the enemy we face and the proper strategy to combat it. Time is growing short. It took Hitler just 5 years to build a military powerhouse out of an economic basket case and launch World War II.
I was an early supporter of the President's war strategy, believing that the removal from power of the Taliban and the Saddam regime (which I still believe were the correct moves) were part of a plan for the destruction of the Iranian theocracy and the neutralization of other terror-supporting regimes such as Syria. I supported the cover we gave the Iraqis while they set up their "democracy". It's time, now, that our leaders recognize that democracy grafted onto a mystic culture that neither believes in nor understands freedom is a formula for mob rule, and the mob that is now taking over is our enemy.
Despite a temporary (I believe) lull in the terror in Iraq, the "War on Terror" has crumbled into an incoherent mess, as events in Pakistan indicate. President Bush should use his remaining time in office to reformulate America's war strategy around the goal of destroying the Iranian and Syrian regimes, and releasing the Iraqi's to their own fate.