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20 years

s the world a safer place since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? Of course it is. Two-thirds of the experienced al Qaeda leadership is dead. Bin Laden and his top lieutenants are forced to live in caves like desert rats where they are afraid to use their cell phones or any other electronic communicative devises for fear that Echelon will detect their locations and send a lethal barrage of Cruise missiles and smart bombs knocking on their doors. The field command structure of their organizations is in shambles. By invading both Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military deprived several terrorist organizations—not just al Qaeda—access to covert training bases they have used since the late 1970s to train the "soldiers" of the Jihad—the Holy War the Islamists intended all along to wage against the modern Crusaders for inflicting the economic system of the infidels on the theocracy of the Muslims.

When—or rather, if—history correctly critiques President George W. Bush's war on terrorism, it will be forced to concede it is a war that was started by Muslim extremists when Islamic fundamentalists under the Ayatollah Khomeini attacked the US Embassy in Tehran during the Carter years in 1979. That attack was a declaration of war upon the United States because Khomeini's "holy warriors" attacked sovereign US soil (which, according to the Law of the Nations, every embassy of every nation in the world is, even though it is within a foreign land).

The "Jihad" actually began on October 23, 1983 when a Palestinian Hezbollah suicide bomber ran the barricades around the barracks of the US Marines Peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. The terrorist detonated the bomb, killing himself and 241 American servicemen. Unfortunately, the western world did not recognize it as the start of a Jihad. As far as they were concerned, it was an isolated act of terrorism by Islamic fanatics against American intruders. Although the Reagan Administration learned that the Hezbollah terrorists who carried out the attack were trained at a terrorist camp deep in Iran, the United States did not retaliate against Iran. Perhaps it should have.

On October 7, 1985 fivePalestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized control of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and threatened to kill all 400 passengers unless the Israeli government freed 50 Palestinian terrorists who were in their custody. To show the world they meant business, the PLF leader, Abu Abbas, pushed wheelchair-bound American Jew, Leon Klinghoffer off the deck and into the Mediterranean. His wife Marilyn watched as he drown. The Israelis, pressured to do so by the Italians, freed the terrorists. On October 9 the standoff ended when the Achille Lauro docked at Port Said and the Egyptians provided the terrorists with air transport to get them to Iran or Iraq. This time, Reagan struck back. The president ordered carrier-based Navy fighters to intercept the Egyptian airliner and force it down before it reached a Muslim safe haven. The plane landed in Sicily. There was a temporary diplomatic crisis as a US Navy SEAL team and a Delta Force unit faced down Sicilian paramilitary police as both nations tried to claim the terrorists.

Once the Italian government agreed that the Palestinian terrorists would face the same justice in Sicily as they would have in the United States, Reagan called off the troops and let the Italians take charge of the prosecution of the Achille Lauro hijackers. Unfortunately the Italians released Abu Abbas, the PLF leader, claiming it did not have enough evidence to prosecute him. Later, Abbas was indicted and tried in absentia. When he was apprehended a few years later, he was sentenced to prison for life. Abbas was paroled about five years ago and recently died.

The Achille Lauro attack signaled the start of a two decade-long wave of terrorism against America and Americans that ever so slowly escalated in size and severity until finally, on September 11, 2001, one triple-pronged terrorist attack resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 Americans and scores of European and Asia citizens on American soil.

On April 5, 1986 a bomb exploded in a West Berlin discotheque frequented by American military personnel. Of the 200 injured, 63 were Americans. One American soldier and one German civilian were killed in the blast. On the night and morning of April 15-16, 1986, the US launched airstrikes against several ground targets in Libya. One of the targets was a residence in which Moumar Gadafaffi and his family were sleeping. Members of Gadafaffi's family were killed in the airstrike. As the raid was taking place, Reagan addressed the nation and told the American people that the CIA and DIA had irrefutable proof that Gadafaffi ordered the attack on the nightclub.

Reagan, Bush-41 and Bush-43 responded to the Jihadists with lethal force. America stood tall, talked tough, and backed up their rhetoric with a big stick. Former navy lieutenant jg Jimmy Carter and former draft dodger Bill Clinton talked boldly during the press photo ops for the American mainstream media, but brandished a twig from an olive branch as its "lethal weapon" of choice. Clinton, who hated the military almost as much as Democratic nominee John F. Kerry, was ill-equipped for his role as commander-in-chief since he did not want the American military involved in any action that was not controlled by the United Nations. When he was forced, through circumstances (and public opinion polls) to act, his actions were usually too little, too late—if at all.

Although top Clinton aides insisted to the 9-11 Commission on Friday, March 19, 2004 that the Clintons had warned the incoming Bush-43 Administration in 2001 that bin Laden was the most dangerous threat facing America, Clinton didn't act as though that was the case while he occupied the Oval Office.

In the fall of 1998, the National Security Agency triangulated the exact location of Osama bin Laden and wanted to act on a pre-approved White House plan to take him out with Tomahawk Cruise missiles. When bin Laden was targeted, the NSA reported to National Security Director Sandy Berger that they had a two-hour window during which they could kill him. Clinton was too busy to be bothered with the "most dangerous threat facing America." He wouldn't even take Berger's calls. It was an hour before Clinton called him back. When Berger told Clinton the window to nail bin Laden was closing fast, Clinton said that before he would give the go-ahead he wanted to meet with Secretaries Madeleine Albright and William Cohn—and then he wanted to mull over his options and the potential consequences of those actions—before deciding whether it was politically advisable to take out bin Laden at that time. Had Clinton taken bin Laden out in 1998 when he had a two-hour window and an ample supply of Cruise missiles to get the job done, there is a good chance 9-11 would not have happened.

Clinton was just as ineffective when the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar al-Salaam, Tanzania were bombed by terrorists working for Osama bin Laden on August 7, 1998. Clinton ordered about 40 Tomahawk Cruise missiles fired into the wilderness in Afghanistan and he leveled the Al-Shifa aspirin factory in the Sudan—an error that cost the US taxpayers millions when Clinton was obligated to compensate the factory owners for blowing up a legitimate pharmaceutical company. Talk about bad intel. By the way, where were the Congressional investigations on the Clinton-Gore Administration on that military fiasco? Particularly, two years later during the national election campaign of 2000?

In fact, bin Laden apparently posed such a dangerous, imminent threat to America that when the Sudanese government offered to arrest bin Laden and turn him over to the US Justice Department, Clinton said "Thanks, but no thanks." All of this, I remind you, on top of the fact that al Qaeda had already engineered the first bombing of the World Trade Center and had already shown a propensity to bring their Holy War to America.

If Clinton had the backbone of Ronald Reagan or the grit of George W. Bush, the War on Terrorism might have been waged exclusively on the soil and in the skies over the nations who harbored terrorists and financially sponsored Islamic terrorism. Clinton, however, choose to abrogate his constitutional responsibilities as commander-in-chief of the US military and left his war for his successor to fight because his Hollywood supporters did not think it was politically correct to fight it. And in less time than it took Bill Clinton to lose 38 men in a lopsided battle against a local warlord in an ill-fated peacekeeping mission in Somalia, George W. Bush deposed the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

When you are the world's only superpower, winning the wars are easy. Winning the peace is tougher because no nation, standing alone, can do it. Particularly when half of the Congress and all of the elite filmmakers in Hollywood (who shape public opinion in the nation and around the world) wanted Bush to fail in order to seize back not only the White House but both Houses of Congress in November 2004. Peace requires a unified community effort.

Granted, suicide bomber attacks—supported financially by the oil sheiks in the Mideast and the governments of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia—have increased dramatically not only in Iraq and Israel, but in several non-Muslim nations around the world, Suicide bombings are the acts of desperate despots and religious fanatics who lack the military wherewithal to win nations. Prior to noon on January 20, 2001, the terrorist states included every Muslim nation in the Mideast—including those we called our friends. Today, most of them have renounced terrorism and are working close with the Bush Administration to ferret out terrorist cells within their nations.

Libya—Reagan's old nemesis—watched what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq and decided it was wise to renounced weapons of mass destruction. Gadafaffi is now allowing weapons inspectors into the country, and Libyan officials are assisting those inspectors dismantle Libya's weapons systems that cannot be construed as "defensive systems "

North Korea, which was working hard to build a nuclear devise with the help of Pakistan (right under the nose of the Clinton Administration) has once again agreed to destroy what they have for food (after threatening to produce a nuclear devise if the Bush Administration did not provide millions of tons of food). When Bush did not back down, Kim Jong II did.

Even with the death and bloodshed caused by the desperate acts of desperate men in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Israel, in Indonesia and in Spain and elsewhere around the world where callous, hate-filled extremists indiscriminately kill the innocent to incite fear in everyone else, the world is still a much safer place today than it was before American troops went into Afghanistan and Iraq.

By the nature of the act, terrorism is a horrible, malignant cancer that feeds not only on its victims but on the witnesses to the act as well. If you have a cancer, and it is removed, are you cancer-free the moment that malignancy is removed? Of course not. The roots of cancer goes deep. Before you can be construed as cancer-free you will likely undergo a long and unpleasant regiment of chemotherapy. The therapy may last for a year or two—or even longer. In any event, the cure takes much longer than the initial battle in which the cancer was excised from your body. There's not a whole lot of difference between this analogy and that of winning the war and assuring the peace. The war ends when the visible cancer is removed. But until the roots are excised, the health of the patient cannot be guaranteed.

 

Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
All rights reserved
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