Many people seem upset with the waging of war upon Iraq. Indeed, I must confess that I was long of two minds about it. Not that Saddam Hussein did not deserve overthrow - it is a wonderful thing to see him gone. I simply wasn't sure how this contributed to fighting a war on terror. There are many thugs in the world - why did we pick Hussein?
Now, three years after 9/11, the brilliance of the Bush strategy is clear.
We were attacked by Muslim Arabs who took the war into our country. Bush responded by taking the war into the geographical heart of the Arab world. Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia - each were arguably as good or better places to attack from an immediate geo-political perspective. Each is headed by Muslim thugs whose anti-Christian laws constantly violate the rights of the human person. But even more than Saudi Arabia, the heart of the Moslem faith, Iraq is the heart from which the Arab self-vision springs. It is the land of our common forefather, Abraham, the land Arabs hearkened to before Mohammed was a gleam in his father's eye. It is the Arab land surrounded by Arab nations, it is the center.
Muslim Arabs struck at what they perceived to be the heart of our identity - the towering symbols of our economic and military might. Bush struck at what we perceived to be the heart of their identity: the fertile crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates, the rivers of Genesis, the book of Abraham.
They guessed wrong about the heart of our identity. We guessed right about theirs.
Now, say what you want about the success of increased security and the brilliance of our intelligence gathering. Certainly these have decreased and denied attacks that might otherwise have gone forward. But we all know it is not that difficult to enter this country. It is not difficult to sabotage and destroy targets or terrorize Americans. There are too many of us, too little security, too many targets. No town, certainly no city, in the nation can be secured in any real way. Yet, despite these facts, we have had but two even remotely successful attempts at terror since 9/11 - the anthrax scare (still unsolved) and the Beltway shootings, which turned out to be the work of two American Moslems with no ties to external terror organizations.
Nothing else has happened here. It's almost as if the terrorists are otherwise occupied and can't be bothered to take the easy pickings our society affords an anarchist.
The absence of terror is easily explained. When faced with the choice - attack America or defend the land of Abraham's birth - Moslem Arabs who wish to engage in war have overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Bush's war strategy successfully shifted their focus.
Instead of blowing up targets in America, they are blowing up targets in Iraq. Instead of killing American civilians, they have the much more difficult task of killing American soldiers. Instead of killing on American soil, they must kill on Iraqi soil. America has so thoroughly infected Iraq that Arab Moslem terrorists are often not even killing Americans anymore - they are killing fellow Arab Moslems, widening the cracks of dissension within not only their own country, but within what might otherwise be a much more cohesive Arab Moslem front.
They are still waging a war of terror, but now they wage it on their own cousins.
Now, one might argue that this paints an overly rosy picture. What of the successful terror attempt to sway the Spanish elections? What of the American casualties? What of the civilian hostages from nations throughout the world?
Yes, the war on terror has not stopped every thrust our opponents have made. But the fact remains: apart from the casualties inflicted on Spain, the terrorist kill-zone has become very small indeed, confined within the borders of their own ancient homeland, and they are dying within that zone at a much higher rate than their enemies.
In World War II, the Battle of the Bulge caused immeasurable consternation, but it was the last offensive Germany was able to launch on the Western Front. Within weeks of the nearly-successful assault, German soldiers were forced back and trapped within the confines of their own homeland, fighting desperately to stay alive. It would appear the terrorists now find themselves in a similar situation.
Whatever motivated George W. Bush to take the war into Iraq, it was an inspired choice.