Freedom’s Successes in 2006
By Joseph Klein
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2007
In our ongoing war against the enemies of freedom, 2006 ended on a fairly bright note. But we must remain vigilant. 2007 will be a year of challenge and opportunity in a struggle that is of historic and global proportions.
The Islamic fascists have just suffered a humiliating defeat in Somalia. Ethiopia demonstrated what the Left in this country needs to understand – sometimes only a military solution will work to bring the bad guys to account. While “it ain’t over until it’s over,” as Yogi Berra once said, it certainly is better to have the Islamic fascists on the run, rather than allowing them to run Somalia as a strategically located African sanctuary for al-Qaeda. In short, this was a swift and devastating loss for the jihadists. As with the Taliban fundamentalists in Afghanistan, we can expect pockets of insurgency from the Somali Islamists and their al-Qaeda allies. However, we remain the winners as long as they remain out of power and deprived of a safe base from which to conduct their ‘holy’ war.
Iraq, of course, is a far more complicated situation. There are no clear-cut winners or losers. It has become a quagmire, with our military fatalities reaching the symbolic 3,000 mark at the end of 2006. However, it was also a year that captured for the history books the image of Saddam Hussein’s lifeless body swinging at the end of a rope that will be the companion piece to the humiliating image of Saddam being pulled out of a hole by his American captors. At least Saddam was accorded a full trial and judged by his fellow Iraqi citizens, a modicum of justice that he never accorded to his enemies while he and his dead sons were in power.
We are also rid of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda terrorist from Jordan whom Saddam’s regime harbored prior to the American liberation of Iraq and who remained behind in Iraq as bin Laden’s chief lieutenant. Zarqawi took pleasure in killing innocent people of all faiths – including Muslims who happened to be Shiites. Indeed, that is what he and Saddam had in common. Zarqawi set in motion the chain of mosque bombings and killings that have brought the country to the brink of civil war. While his demise has done nothing to stem the sectarian violence in the short term, it has removed an implacable foe of any political solution.
That said, 2007 will be a very challenging year for us in Iraq. But it can also be a year of opportunity if we play our cards right. A temporary troop surge would be a mistake, providing only the illusion of security even if it were to provide a brief respite from the violence. As soon as our troop levels revert to their prior levels, the seething sectarian hatreds will boil over again into new violence. Embedding our military advisors with Iraqi security forces, while pulling back our active combat troops, would also be a recipe for disaster since our advisors will be left unprotected if the Iraqis should decide to turn on the outnumbered American advisors with the help of the insurgents.
The best option for the United States in 2007, among a set of bad options, is to let the civil war in Iraq play out and let the extremists from both sides kill each other. Saudi Arabia – whose own fundamentalists have provided funding to al-Qaeda – cannot afford to allow militant Shiite expansion on its border. Iran cannot afford an embarrassing loss to its partisans, nor risk the havoc that a mass influx of Iraqi refugees may cause to its fragile economy. So let the insurgent Sunnis and their al-Qaeda brothers fight it out with the militant Shiites and their Iranian brothers, while we cheer both sides’ passage to martyrdom and their reward of 72 virgins. There will be a tragic loss of innocent lives, as in any civil war, but this would occur whether we remain actively engaged or not. We might as well avoid being a part of the inevitable carnage and putting our soldiers in harm’s way in the service of no clear, winnable objective. However, this does not mean the kind of cut and run policy that is the Left’s answer to all messy problems. Instead we can concentrate with deadly force on targeting the al-Qaeda leaders and Iranian revolutionary guard forces we are able to track down in Iraq. We can also reposition some of our troops near the Iranian and Syrian borders to stem the flow of arms and foreign personnel into Iraq and Lebanon. When all is said and done, the civil war will most likely end in a stalemate, with an exhausted country perhaps more ready at that time to reach some sort of political coalition solution. The point is for us to retain a sufficient presence in the area to influence the ultimate outcome without becoming embroiled in the daily sectarian fighting.
Iran itself presents the most serious challenge of all because of its regional ambitions and fanatical zeal combined with oil revenues paying for its nuclear programs, but there are some encouraging signs there as well. With all of his bluster, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was running into some serious headwinds of his own as 2006 drew to a close. The U.N. Security Council finally backed up its words against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program with some sanctions, even if the sanctions were about as mild as they can be. At least, the Security Council did go on the record endorsing a path toward isolation of Iran, which the United States has had some success in accelerating through public and private pressure on foreign banks and other firms to cease doing business with Iran or suffer the consequences of lost business opportunities in the United States. Iran’s oil revenues are down, its infrastructure is in disrepair, and its economy is in serious jeopardy of collapse. Ahmadinejad’s loyalists lost some key local elections and Iranian students are more boldly protesting his oppressive regime. Facing increasing economic isolation for his foolhardy nuclear ambitions and draining needed resources at home to diversions in Iraq and Lebanon, Ahamadinejad’s regime is on the brink of imploding without our having to fire a shot. Our challenge, which is also an opportunity if handled right, is to help Ahmadinejad destroy himself and bring down the fanatical mullah theocracy that is the source of his power. To convince the Iranian people who aspire to freedom that we support their aspirations, the last thing we should do is to legitimize the present regime by ‘negotiating’ with them.
Finally, the end of 2006 saw the end – finally – of Kofi Annan’s disastrous tenure as UN Secretary General. Right to the end, Annan blamed everyone but himself and his UN cronies for the UN’s litany of failures during his watch, including the horrendous oil-for-food scandal that involved some of his top deputies. This was also a man who went out of his way to placate terrorists and their sponsoring states, while during his final days in office he unleashed a barrage of criticisms against the United States and Israel. Blinded to any sense of reality, one of his last pronouncements in the midst of Ethiopia’s rout of the Islamic fascists was to urge foreign forces – presumably the Ethiopians – to leave Somalia and respect its ‘sovereignty.’ What Annan never understood is that the Islamic fascists are the ones who have no respect for the aspirations of the people whom they seek to rule. They are cancers metastasizing in every body politic they are able to infiltrate.
Annan’s successor, South Korean Ban Ki-Moon, has to be an improvement, and signs so far are somewhat encouraging. His immediate focus, he said, will be to improve the internal operations and ethics of the U.N bureaucracy – a daunting task in itself that Annan never took seriously. Coming from a country that has prospered economically but continues to live in the shadow of the nuclear threat from North Korea, Ban Ki-Moon knows first-hand the value of freedom and the sacrifices required to preserve it. We may finally have someone we can trust running things at Turtle Bay. We’ll have to wait and see.
The year ahead will have its share of tribulations, disappointments and tragedies. But our future still remains in our hands. With courage, wisdom and patience, we can continue to win the war against the enemies of freedom so long as we remember who those enemies truly are.