America won the war in Iraq but it is still far from evident
if its operations there can be called a success. There is no
doubt that deposing Saddam Hussein was a good thing, and
there is no doubt that he is gone as the ruler of Iraq. The
big question that remains is what will take his place.
So far the Americans have not managed to restore public
order. Looting and lawlessness continue, and services have
not been fully restored. Iraqi civil servants, including
police, have not yet stepped forward to reclaim their jobs.
If the American intervention in Iraq is to be successful,
America must soon make Iraqi society work.
However good it was for the people of Iraq, the American
intervention certainly did not squash Moslem terror. Last
week was a terrible week, including coordinated murderous
attacks in Saudi Arabia, then coordinated attacks in Morocco
and then a series of attacks in Israel.
Saddam Hussein's criminal behavior and his open defiance of
international norms were certainly an inspiration to
terrorists everywhere. The fact that he was finally deposed
will certainly give them pause. (And that is why it is
important to depose Yasser Arafat who is also strongly
identified with terror.) Yet the regimes of Syria and Iran,
while obviously worried, have not changed their fundamental
willingness and even enthusiasm for terror against the West.
Al Qaeda, despite the setbacks it has suffered in the past
two years, showed in Morocco and Saudi Arabia that it can and
will continue to murder.
It is well known that the Americans like to tackle things
head on and solve them "once-and-for-all." They made a big
effort in Afghanistan and once again in Iraq, and they would
like to think that they have "solved" a problem.
Of course they have not. Islamic terror is a broad problem
that is embedded in Moslem communities throughout the world.
Even though most Moslems are not terrorists, there are still
too many terrorists and they are too spread out to be able to
stop them permanently with concentrated military action.
In Clausewitz's famous dictum: War is a mere continuation of
policy by other means. War is a political act and it takes
place in the political arena. It is fought by armies and
directed by political leaders.
Terror, on the other hand, is not run by a single,
centralized power center. It can function well even when its
people are diffuse and distributed all over the world. Also,
very importantly, it does not have the focused goals and the
obvious interests that a central authority does. As a result,
its actions are much more similar to crime than to war.
This is an important observation because it shows the
futility of any hope for a once-and-for-all solution. Crime
can be controlled but it is virtually impossible to wipe out
completely. The police forces must be constantly vigilant and
must work all the time to suppress it. Police work can be
effective to control crime and ensure that it does not
surpass tolerable levels, but there is no reasonable hope of
eradicating it completely.
This is also the response to those on the Left who always
intone that the desire to commit acts of terror is in
people's hearts and cannot be erased by military action. This
is true but beside the point. Evil may always lurk in the
hearts of men, but that does not imply that we should not
seek to deploy effective police forces to curb it.
The only ultimate solution is found in Torah.
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