The “terror” war escalates 7

We face a military challenge unlike any we have had in the past. Our military was designed to defeat the Soviet Union. Now we face tens of thousands – perhaps millions – of anonymous enemies armed with cheap weapons, but advantaged by the element of surprise and the will to commit suicide in order to damage us. We have entered a new and terrible epoch of war – and the president has announced that the war is over. 

These extracts are from an article by David P. Goldman at PJ Media:

The collapse of Middle Eastern states from Libya to Afghanistan vastly increases the terrorist recruitment pool, while severely restricting the ability of American intelligence services to monitor and interdict the terrorists. In addition, it intensifies the despair that motivates Muslims like the Tsarnaev brothers or Michael Adebolajo to perpetrate acts of terrorism. That makes President Obama’s declaration that America is winding down the “war on terror” – a misnomer to begin with – the worst decision by an American commander-in-chief since the Buchanan administration, perhaps ever. …

The breakdown of putative nation-states extends across nearly all of the Muslim world. …

The prime minister of Libya “has to cross checkpoints manned by five different militias, on his way home from office”.

In place of regular armies controlled by dictators, Libya is crisscrossed by ethnic and sectarian militias (including the one that murdered our ambassador last September).

Egypt is on the brink of economic collapse and state failure; Iraq is in the midst of a low-intensity sectarian war; Syria’s civil war already is being fought out in Lebanon; and Turkey’s border has become unstable.

A vast number of young men have been drawn into irregular combat. Syria has become the cockpit of a Sunni-Shi’ite war, with Turkey and the Gulf states funneling money and jihadists into Syria while Iran sends Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah irregulars to the aid of the Assad regime. The young men of Libya already are mobilized into militias; Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood cells and Salafists and football mobs are not yet armed, but are organized. Iraq’s sectarians are armed to the teeth, in part thanks to American funding of the “Sunni Awakening” during the 2007-2008 surge. Very large numbers of young men are ready to fight to the death, while the breakup of the fragile civilian society of these countries draws more and more of them into the maelstrom. Terrorism has become a way of life in Syria, where both sides instigate atrocities, in part to intimidate their opponents and in part to bind their own fighters to the cause by making them complicit in such crimes.

If Afghanistan fed the terrorist pool during the 1980s and the 1990s, the sectarian wars of the 2010s will increase the prospective pool of terrorists – young men with no skill except irregular warfare, nothing to return to, nothing to lose, and with no motivation except fanatical hatred. …

America leaned on Arab governments; after the overthrow and execution of Saddam Hussein, it had considerable credibility to do so. Nasty, dictatorial, oppressive regimes usually chose to help rather than thwart the U.S. out of fear that they would be next. That is why it was a good idea to make a horrible example out of one unfriendly regime (I would have preferred Iran), and why I supported the American invasion of Iraq (although not the nation-building commitment that followed).

Arab governments are less states than hotels, where the proprietor rents out rooms without asking too many questions about what happens inside the rooms. It is possible to twist the proprietor’s arm to kick down the doors when the behavior of the guests becomes to troublesome. Now many of the states are gone. There is no-one to lean on. There are no cooperative state intelligence services to control their own unruly elements and do our dirty work.

The result is an enormous increase in the number of prospective terrorists and a drastic reduction in our capacity to control them.

The motivation for terrorism has increased correspondingly. Radicalized Muslims must now contemplate the ruin of their civilization from Tripoli to Kabul. Millions of Syrians are displaced and have no homes to go back to. Millions of Egyptians are hungry. Not only the suffering, but the humiliation of the national ruin of Egypt and Syria leave radical Muslims with little to hope for. The motivation to take as much of the world down with them [as they can] has mushroomed in the context of state failure.

It is not simply a matter of non-state actors running out of control. The remaining states, prominently Iran, have seized the opportunity to increase their ability to use terror on a grand scale. Iran’s open attempt to turn Syria into a Persian satrapy–through Hezbollah as well as the infiltration of tens of thousands of Iranian fighters–is intended to gain control of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and to turn Syria into a weapons platform from which to attack Israel. The scattering of Middle Eastern arsenals (starting with Qaddafi’s shoulder-fired surface-t0-air missiles), meanwhile, provides terrorists with a quality of weaponry they never before possessed.

There simply is no historic precedent for this deadly mixture of state and civil breakdown. American policy has piled blunder atop blunder. …

America devoted its main attention during the 2000s to nation building in Iraq while ignoring Iran’s expansionism in the region. By wasting resources and credibility on Iraqi nation-building and neglecting Iran’s influence, the United States allowed the Shia government in Baghdad to drift toward the Iranian sphere of influence, compelling Iraq’s Sunnis to respond. Funding and arming the “Sunni Awakening” during the 2008 surge gave the Sunnis the means to respond. And encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood to replace Mubarak was a destabilizing factor. Threatened by Iranian expansion on one side, and encouraged by the Brotherhood’s success in Egypt on the other, Syria’s Sunnis decided that the moment had come to overthrow the Assad regime.

At the moment, Assad is winning, chiefly because he has received and will continue to receive massive help from Iran and Russia.

And meanwhile the US, under Obama’s feeble leadership, is doing nothing except reinforcing the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad. Whatever aggressive war it was that Bush actively engaged in, under whatever misnomer, was at least a recognition that defense was needed against the Islamic onslaught on the West. It intensifies, and Obama manages not to notice it.

For those who do notice it, to hope that internal – chiefly Sunni-Shiite – conflict may keep the attention of jihadis off America and the West, or bring about mutual defeat and ruin, is to indulge in desperate optimism.

However unwillingly, America is caught up in the “new and terrible epoch of war”. What should it be doing?  Goldman does not say. John McCain seems to think the rebels in Syria should be actively supported, even though they consist mainly of al-Qaeda terrorists. Secretary of State Kerry is totally absorbed in trying to revive that ancient game in which Israel and the Palestinian Authority talked at cross purposes about making… peace was it, or was it butter out of moonbeams?

So what should be done? Suggestions anybody?