Jewish World Review March 31, 2003 / 27 Adar II, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Iraq is a steppingstone, not a final stop


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Many -- including me -- have called what has begun in Iraq a "war." But this is inaccurate, and the maldescription may cause some to fail to understand what's going on, what's at stake and what's likely to happen next.

The United States is at war. We weren't aware we were at war until Sept. 11, 2001, but the war began well before then. Muslim extremists attacked Army Rangers in Somalia in 1993; the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996; our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000 -- but we didn't connect the dots. It took a horrible slaughter on our own soil before we paid attention to the gathering danger.

We are at war with Islamic extremists who hate us because we are rich and powerful, because we don't enslave women or murder Jews. We are guilty of no provocation save our mere existence. So this is not a conflict which can be resolved by appeasement or negotiation. We must destroy them, or they will destroy us.

These Islamic extremists are found both in terror groups -- principally, but by no means exclusively al-Qaida -- and in terror-supporting states. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, etc. can exist without state support. But they cannot be very dangerous without it. By themselves, the terror groups can kill dozens, perhaps hundreds. But with the help of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, they could kill tens of thousands.

To win World War II, we had to beat both Germany and Japan, and we had to fight both simultaneously. To win the war on terror, we have to fight both the terror groups and the terror-supporting states, and we have to fight them both at once.

Major wars are a series of campaigns, each of them conducted to gain a vital steppingstone on the road to victory, but none of them sufficient by themselves to achieve victory. Afghanistan was a campaign in the war on terror, the ongoing pursuit of al-Qaida another, Iraq a third. More will follow.

Some campaigns are more important than others. To use a WWII analogy, the Afghan campaign was Guadalcanal or New Guinea -- America fighting back, blunting the enemy's offensive, giving us the momentum. Iraq, I think, will be comparable to the liberation of the Philippines -- a body blow to the enemy, one that virtually guarantees his ultimate defeat.

The disarmament of Iraq and the liberation of its people are terrific ends in themselves. But Iraq is more properly viewed as just another steppingstone.

Iraq is important for three reasons:

First, by removing Saddam, we remove not merely a serious threat to Iraq's neighbors and the world's oil supply, the terror network loses a major source of sanctuary, funding and weapons. I suspect ties between al-Qaida and Iraqi intelligence are much greater than most of us realize, but there is no point in arguing about it. We'll find out soon enough.

Second, if a reasonably democratic, reasonably pro-Western government can take hold in Iraq, it would be a major step toward draining the poisonous swamps in which terrorist "fish" swim. The more autocratic a Muslim state is, the more likely it is to breed and harbor Muslim extremists. There are no democracies in the Arab world. But if democracy takes hold in Iraq, other nations will have to follow. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar already are making liberalizing noises.

Third, if there is a major U.S. military presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran will be surrounded. Iran is the first revolutionary terror state, responsible for the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, and -- intelligence officials think -- for the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996. And Iran may be the most dangerous of the terror states. It has more than double the population of Iraq, nearly as much oil and is only a year or so away from possessing nuclear weapons.

We may not need to use military force to change Iran. The presence of democracies to the east and west may inspire the Iranian people to do the job themselves. But we will not be safe until there is regime change in Iran as well as in Iraq.

The liberation of Iraq will be neither the beginning nor the end of the war on terror. But it could mark the beginning of the end.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

03/24/03: European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
03/20/03: Was getting the UN involved worth it?
03/18/03: South Koreans no longer behaving as if they were the French of Northeast Asia --- why?
03/11/03: Ultimatum's moment of truth
03/11/03: Thank you, Turkey, we needed that
03/07/03: The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event
03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly