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The trend lines indicate the West’s support for the war is quickly eroding.

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West Lacks Will to Win War on Terrorism

The trend lines indicate the West’s support for the war is quickly eroding.

Our enemies are Islamic extremists who seek to destroy the West’s way of life and impose their radical version of Islamic (Sharia) law. Unfortunately, the West appears to lack the will to fight this war. Defeat is on our doorstep.

Last week, the British released the only man convicted for the gravest single act of terrorism ever to hit that country.  The cancer-stricken former Libyan intelligence officer, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, was convicted of taking part in the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Scotland that killed 270.  Scotland’s justice secretary showed his lack of understanding for Islamic extremists when he released al-Megrahi because of “Scottish mercy.”

Later that day thousands of young Muslims gave al-Megrahi a hero’s welcome at a Tripoli airport.  He was accompanied by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s son, who raised al-Megrahi’s hand victoriously to the cheering crowd.  Al-Megrahi is a folk hero for his role in killing “infidels.”

Al-Megrahi does not deserve freedom and granting him “Scottish mercy” makes the West appear weak.  This story has Islamic extremist tentacles that stretch to Iran.

One account of the Pan Am bombing says Iran paid a Palestinian terrorist group to down the American jetliner. The motive was revenge for the accidental downing of an Iranian jetliner by a U.S. Navy missile only five months prior. Allegedly Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini promised to avenge the incident with “rain blood.”

The airliner tit-for-tat incident is part of the Islamic-West war that Iran started in 1979 after it seized America’s Tehran embassy.  That war was joined in the 1990s by al Qaeda with attacks on our African embassies, the near sinking of the USS Cole in Yemen, and then the Sept. 11, 2001 coup de grace.   

But after eight years of fighting Islamic extremists, the West finds the situation rather dire on most fronts.  

We are in trouble in Afghanistan.  U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the insurgency “…has grown geographically, and it has grown in levels of violence.”   He admits the militants have momentum and initiative.  

President Obama says he’s committed to the war in spite of dwindling public support.  “We’ve got to make sure that we are really focused on finishing the job in Afghanistan. But it’s going to take some time,” Obama admits. A majority (51%) of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Pakistan is the center of gravity for global Islamic terrorism.  It hosts thousands of Islamic schools that spew extremists across the world and it provides sanctuary to the Taliban, al Qaeda, and groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba which is implicated in the 2008 Mumbai (India) attacks. Now terrorists are spreading their insurgency across Pakistan but Islamabad will delay a new offensive until next year.

Iraq is in trouble. On June 30, the U.S. turned security over to the Iraqi government but our gains are being sqandered.  

Last week, two truck bombings in Baghdad killed 95 and wounded nearly 600. Opposing Shiite and Sunni factions blamed the other for the deadliest attacks since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the cities.  Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari believes there will be more attacks, acknowledged security forces colluded with insurgents to prepare for the bombings last week and admits security gains made in the past year have unraveled.  

Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, called on Iraqis to step up operations.  “There is a clear need to keep the pressure on the extremists and that has to be continued through the kind of targeted operations that we [the U.S.] carried out.” Petraeus admits the terrorists are “still quite capable.”

Iran is a global nightmare. It will soon be armed with atomic weapons and it already leads the world in supporting insurgent and terrorist groups.

But Tehran will become more dangerous.  On Aug. 5, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad started his second term as president by purging his cabinet of critics and appointed cronies with ties to the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).  The best known crony is Ahmad Vahidi, the defense nominee, who is sought by Interpol in connection with a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argnetina.  He was the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds (Jerusalem) Force, which organizes, trains, equips, and finances foreign Islamic revolutionary movements.

Syria remains a dangerous rogue state. It has a mutual defense treaty with Tehran and built, with North Korean help, a plutonium reactor which Israeli fighters destroyed.  It remains the conduit for terrorists infiltrating into Iraq and the home to many terrorist organizations.

Last week, Syrian president Bashar al Assad was in Tehran to congratulate his friend Ahmadinejad on his re-election and to condemn “foreign interference” —  read U.S.  This was a slap in the face for the Obama administration which recently sent back-to-back delegations to Damascus to encourage Assad to abandon Iran.

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas rules the Gaza Strip.  During the January 2009 Gaza Strip war with Israel, Hamas accepted help from Iranian IRGC and Iran’s proxy terrorist group Hizbullah and now there is evidence of the growth of al-Qaeda-style Salafi Islamism in Gaza. The Salafis maintain that anyone who fails to uphold any aspect of Sharia law is no longer a Muslim.  Jihadist Salafis believe they must depose and fight all governments controlled by non-Muslims (Kufar).  

Islamic terrorism is spreading in Africa.  In the east, Somalia is a hub of al Qaeda and al Shabaab insurgent activity.  Al Qaeda operates across the Sahara hiding, training, equipping and plotting new operations.  Last month in the west the Nigerian army killed hundreds of Islamists called Nigerian Taliban because they call for Sharia to be implemented.

Islamic terrorists and their sponsors are winning by surviving. The West may outgun them but to win we must have the will to fight.  Unfortunately, it appears our will to fight is eroding and especially when it comes to Afghanistan.  

Our best allies are losing public support for the Afghan war. Nearly six in ten British see the offensive against the Taliban as a lost cause and 85 percent of all Germans  oppose the presence of their troops in Afghanistan. More than half (54%) of Canadians and Frenchmen (55%) oppose the war and favor their immediate withdrawal.

The Afghan counterinsurgency will need more troops, but our 41 allies in Afghainstan are pretty stingy. Only nine contribute more than a thousand soldiers and another nine contribute 10 or fewer soldiers. Many of these nations are reconsidering their troop commitments just as President Obama announces the war is far from over and considers more troop increases.

Finally, a nation’s defense spending is often a good indicator of its war commitment.  Most of our Afghan allies invest less than two percent of their GDP to defense and only 15 of the 42 spend more. The U.S. spends more than four percent of its GDP on defense and, according to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. has spent $864 billon on Iraq and Afghanistan alone.

The West will lose the war on terrorism if it loses the will to fight.  The trend lines indicate the West’s support for the fight is quickly eroding and there is no clear antidote to reverse the spiral downward.  Will America follow suit?

Written By

Robert Maginnis is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, and a national security and foreign affairs analyst for radio and television.

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