Submitted by Boris Tenenbaum
Let us construct a military-political scenario.
You will be the President, and I will be your National Security Advisor.
You do not need to agree with me, and in fact should try to find realistic and serious rebuttals to the course of action that I recommend.
In any case, the choice of which policy to follow is up to you. You are the President and bear the ultimate responsibility for the decision.
So let us begin:
We, the United States, were attacked on 9/11.
My opinion is that this was not a criminal act, but an act of war.
Who then is our adversary?
Al Qaeda? I don’t think so.
I read a glowing article about this event in al-Ahram – the author was full of delight that the haughty giant got kicked in his ass, and when he turned around there was no one there.
Bear in mind, this was published on an English language internet site of the main national government-sponsored newspaper of a ‘moderate’ Arab country, our ally, receiving sizable subsidies from USA.
Just imagine what the press is saying in Arabic in Syria, for example.
Our enemy is not Al Qaeda; it is the public opinion of the Arab world that applauds it and the governments that encourage it. For them, Osama bin Laden is a hero.
So what can we do about this?
Below are the possible courses of action:
1. Ignore the threat
, like all the previous US Administrations did prior to 9/11.
My opinion is that this cannot be done.
The next attack could very well be nuclear or biological and we will suffer devastating and potentially irreparable harm.
2. Make certain concessions
; for example, abandon our support of Israel
My opinion is that this cannot be done.
As soon as it is obvious that we will abide by their commands, we will suffer a slew of similar attacks. Not only will the Arabs be unappeased, but absolutely everyone whom we have ever slighted will start doing as they have done; we will become the target of terror attacks from every group in the world which feels oppressed and excluded – no matter how justifiably.
3. Restrict ourselves to increasing security
– strengthening the FBI, police, greater cooperation with our allies, etc.
Undoubtedly this could be useful.
We should proceed in this direction, but also realize that purely defensive measures are insufficient. We have too many vulnerabilities for this to be effective; our whole economy is based on free trade and open borders. How would you seal all these cracks? How could you protect ALL of our chemical plants, ALL our ports, ALL of our railroads, and ALL of our border crossings? It should be obvious that this is physically impossible to accomplish.
4. Enter into negotiations
with them and reach some sort of modus vivendi.
I am afraid that this is an impossibility.
We are dealing with a movement which is animated by a severe crisis in the Arab world. Nothing works, there is tremendous despair, and we are a very convenient scapegoat.
We are hated not because of what we do; we are hated because of what we are.
The Arabs lack an organized political entity with disciplined troops. The military threat comes from a conglomeration of small and uncontrollable groups. You can reach an understanding with one group, but another group, in order to prove that it is more radical, will start attacking you.
Knowing that for sure the first group – presumably your partner in negotiations - will NOT abide by any agreements they made with you in exchange for the concessions you have made.
An obvious example of this is the PLO and HAMAS. All the agreements made with the PLO were abrogated by the Arab side; there was political pressure from HAMAS to radicalize the behavior and to demand more and more.
HAMAS was not bound by any agreements – and it was a wonderful pretext for PLO to shade all its presumably solid obligations.
5. Wage a war of attrition
against the Arab world – sanctions, suspension of trade, restrictions on immigration, etc.
This is a possible course of action.
However, it would be exceedingly difficult and would take a very long time to achieve its effect.
The Europeans would undoubtedly flout these sanctions. And there is also China, Russia, etc. to be taken into account.
6. Wage a total war of destruction
against the Arab world.
This is also a possible course of action.
Because we can not control 350 million Arabs, we will need to make clear to their leaders that we will no longer tolerate their tacit approval of terror among their people.
We will obliterate from the face of the earth ANY Arab regime that challenges us - be it right or wrong - as was done in the case of Iraq. That produced results – Libya quickly saw the light and decided to disarm itself.
We will encourage reform in the Arab world, but we will NOT reconcile ourselves to active anti-American propaganda; that type of “freedom” costs us blood.
Because it is difficult to persuade a mule, we will make it clear to the mule-drivers that they are responsible for their mules, and it is their necks
that are on the block if their mules are too stubborn in sticking to their asinine ideas.
I propose to you, Mister President, to explore other options, or to implement some kind of combination of the ones listed above.
Personally, I am leaning towards option 6