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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

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April 14, 2014

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Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

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April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

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Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

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Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

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Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

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Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

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Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

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Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

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April 2, 2014

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Jewish World Review Nov. 9, 2007 /28 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

America's strategies for victory — and defeat

By Caroline B. Glick


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The battle of Iraq is nearly over. And the Americans have nearly won. Their enemies are on the run. Al Qaida forces have lost or are losing their bases of operations. Its fighters are being killed and captured in ever increasing numbers. Iraq's Sunni citizens who, until recently refused to take any part in the post-Saddam regime, are joining the army and citizens' watch groups by the thousands.

Local sheikhs in Baghdad, following the example set earlier by Sunni sheikhs in Anbar province are ordering their people to fight with the Americans against al Qaida. For their part, the Shiite militias know that they are next in line for defeat. As a result, Muqtada el Sadr ordered his forces to cease their attacks.

The numbers speak for themselves. Over the past month, some 46,000 Iraqi refugees returned home. Since May, the number of civilian casualties has decreased by 75 percent. US military casualties have also dropped precipitously after the death rate rose in recent months of hard fighting. Neighborhoods in Baghdad which had ceased to function under al Qaida's reign of terror have come back to life. Businesses are reopening. Citizens are rebuilding their homes. Even churches are opening their doors. This is what victory looks like.

Yet the promise of Baghdad is a lone ray of light in an otherwise darkened field of failed US policies. As President George W. Bush prepares to enter his last year in office, America's international standing is at a low point. The forces of jihad, while being defeated in Iraq, are rising everywhere else. The price of oil races towards the once inconceivable price of $100 a barrel. New jihadist mosques open daily throughout the world. Pakistan is a disaster. Iran is closing in on the bomb.

To understand America's manifold failures, it makes sense to begin with a look at why Iraq is different. For the new successful American strategy in Iraq is not only different from what preceded it there. It is also different from the US strategy which is failing everywhere else.

The new American strategy in Iraq is based on a fairly simple strategic assumption: The US goal in Iraq is to defeat its enemies and to defeat its enemies the US must target them with the aim of defeating them. This is a strategy based on common sense.

Unfortunately, common sense seems to be the rarest of commodities in US foreign policy circles today. Outside of Iraq, and until recently in Iraq itself, the US has based its policies on the notion that it can bend its adversaries to its will by on the one hand signaling them in a threatening way, and on the other hand by trying to appease them where possible. And this is the heart of the failure.

In the lead up to Iraq, it was clear to US strategic planners that of the three states - Iraq, Iran and North Korea - that Bush labeled as members of the "Axis of Evil," Iraq was the least dangerous. It sponsored terror less than Iran. Its weapons of mass destruction programs were less developed that those of Iran and North Korea. As a result, there were some voices - particularly in Israel - which suggested that given that the US was uninterested in targeting more than one country in addition to Afghanistan, the US should direct its fire at Iran rather than Iraq. But for their own reasons, among them the collapse of the UN sanctions regime on Iraq; the fact that Iraq alone was under UN Security Council authority; and Iraq's relative weakness, the Americans chose to go after Saddam.

They assumed that the invasion itself would work to strengthen America's deterrent capability and so work to America's advantage in its dealings with Iran and North Korea. Here then we see, that the decision to invade Iraq was based in part on a continued American reliance on a strategy of signaling rather than confronting Iran and North Korea. If this hadn't been the case, Iraq probably would have been cast to the side.

Initially the American strategy met with stunning success. Iran, North Korea, Syria and indeed the Arab world as a whole, were shaken and terrified by the victorious American assault on Saddam. Unfortunately, rather than build on their momentum, the Americans did everything they could to assure these states that they had no reason to worry that a similar fate would befall them. Rather than maintain the offensive - by sealing Iraq's borders and then going after insurgents' bases in Iran and Syria, the US went on the defensive. And so it allowed Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia to support and direct the insurgency. As a result of America's show of weakness, the lesson that its enemies took from its campaign in Iraq was that to deter the Americans, they should intensify their support for terror and their weapons of mass destruction programs.

Once deterrence collapsed, the Americans chose a mix of appeasement mixed with threats that had no expiration date. Last year's North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear tests, the war in Lebanon, the Hamas takeover of Gaza and Iran's intensification of its nuclear program are all results of the failure of this model of US foreign policy making.

These policies are of a piece with the US's general foreign policy posture towards its adversaries. And that posture is unfortunately based on a hugely inflated view of America's deterrent capabilities and Washington's failure to craft policies which are suited to their interests and goals.

Today, the most glaring example of this state of affairs is Pakistan. America has two primary goals in Pakistan. First it seeks to prevent Pakistan's nuclear weapons and technologies from proliferating or falling under the control of jihadists. Second, it seeks to defeat al Qaida and the Taliban.

After September 11, the Americans gave Pakistan's military dictator a choice: he could help them defeat the Taliban and al Qaida in Afghanistan or he could lose power. That was a good start but then the Americans began losing track of their priorities. After General Pervez Musharraf agreed to Washington's ultimatum, the Americans put all their eggs in his basket. And so they lost their ability to deter him and so influence his behavior.

Certain of unconditional American backing, Musharraf played a double game. He helped the US in Afghanistan and then allowed the Taliban and al Qaida to escape and rebase in Pakistan.

Musharraf was also unforthcoming on nuclear issues. He barred American investigators from interrogating Pakistan's chief nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan, and so refused them key intelligence on other countries' Pakistani supported nuclear programs. Yet having based their Pakistan policy on their assumption that Musharraf was irreplaceable, the Americans pretended nothing was wrong.

And now they are confronted by a disastrous situation. On the one hand, thanks to Musharraf's hospitality, al Qaida and the Taliban control large swathes of Pakistan and have declared jihad against their host, thus placing Pakistan's nuclear arsenals in greater danger. At the same time, they use their Pakistani bases to intensify their insurgency in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, as has been his consistent policy since seizing power in 1998, Musharraf continues to ignore the seriousness of the Taliban--al Qaida threat. The purpose of his recent declaration of martial law and suspension of the Pakistani constitution was not to enable him to better fight the jihadists. It was to break his liberal political opposition whose members demand democracy and an end to his military rule.

And in the midst of this, the Americans find themselves with no leverage over the still irreplaceable Musharraf.

A similar situation exists in Saudi Arabia. There too the US squandered the leverage it gained after the Sept. 11 attacks by giving unconditional support to the Saudi royal family. The Saudis immediately understood that the best way to ensure continued American support was to extend their support for terrorism and finance of radical, pro-jihad mosques while raising the price of oil. As in Pakistan, the worse the situation became, the more the Americans supported them.

And then of course there are the Palestinians. Here American policy has been a double failure. First of all, it has destroyed American deterrence towards the Arab world.

In order to divert American attention away from their support for jihadist terrorism, the leaders of the Arab world sought to convince the Americans that the only way to end their support for terror and jihad was by resolving the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Rather than stop to question the validity of the Arabs' strange assertion, the Americans believed them. Over time, this belief led them to neglect their actual goals - to end the Arab world's support for terror; prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and maintain world oil prices at around $30 a barrel - in favor of a secondary and unrelated issue. Aside from that, it bears noting that it is largely because of the strengthening of jihadist forces in the Arab world that there is no possibility of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Rather than understand this, the Americans have allowed the Arabs to send them on a wild goose chase that will never end.

The very fact that this week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thought that it was more important to come to Israel for the ninth time of the year than deal with the crisis in Pakistan shows clearly just how deeply the Americans have internalized this Arab fiction.

Then there are the Palestinians themselves. As Bush announced in 2002, the US's main goal regarding the Palestinians is to force them to stop engaging in terror and jihad. All other American policies regarding the Palestinians were supposed to be conditioned on the accomplishment of this goal. Yet as in Pakistan, over time the Americans neglected this goal in favor of an easier one - supporting Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. In order to strengthen Abbas and Fatah, the Americans have cast aside their goal of ending Palestinian terror. As a result, today they have no leverage over Abbas. As with Musharraf in Pakistan, strengthening Abbas is the only policy the Americans have towards the Palestinians, and increasingly, towards Israel. And as in Pakistan, the threatening reality on the ground is a consequence of the fact that their policy ignores their actual goals.

Two conclusions can be drawn from contrasting America's victory in Iraq with its failures in so many other theaters. First, the only way to successfully fight your enemies is to fight them. And second, basing policies on pretending to deter leaders who are not deterred is a recipe for failure. Until the Americans accept these lessons, Iraq aside, the international environment will grow ever more threatening.


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JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2007, Caroline B. Glick