M. Codevilla is one tough hombre, yet his prescriptions are mobilizing,
even for the weak-willed: There is muscle of the brain there. Not
surprising, inasmuch as Mr. Codevilla is a professor of international
relations at Boston University and a senior fellow of the Claremont
Institute. It is in the sparkling Claremont Review of Books
that Mr. Codevilla analyzes the war we are in, tells us why it is
not achieving its purpose, and goes on to tell us what, in his gritty
opinion, needs to be done. The least bellicose of which is "a
declaration of war against the Assad regime by the U.S., Israel,
and Turkey." The good news is that such a move would "most
likely produce a palace coup in Damascus."
What we are doing now, he tells us in some detail, is wasting our
time. Our "War on Terrorism" has three parts: "'Homeland
Security,' more intelligence, and bringing al Qaeda to 'justice.'"
About this program, we are informed, "The first is impotent,
counterproductive, and silly. The second is impossible. The third
is misconceived and is a diversion from reality."
The reason that the homeland-security business is miscast is that
the goal of protecting us from the terrorists is simply impossible.
There are too many targets. An attempt to protect them a) will not
succeed; and b) will set into motion restrictions on the American
Way of Life that are themselves an objective of the enemy. It does
not do, to countenance the threat of being killed, to commit suicide.
Intelligence of the kind we have working for us in the drug world
the practice of integrating informers in the culture of the
drug-importing network is beyond our reach. The assignment
is too broad, our resources manifestly insufficient. We simply cannot
produce a thousand Arab-speaking spies who can integrate themselves
unnoticed in the warrens of the enemy.
As we are proceeding, we are not targeting the procreative citadels
of the enemy. It is not so much Osama bin Laden we are after, as
those who permitted him to be strong and influential and, as a terrorist
leader, productive. Our enemy? "It's the Regime, Stupid."
The principal sponsors of the terrorists are not religious fanatics.
"Palestine's Yasser Arafat, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and Syria's
Assad family have made themselves the icons of Islamism despite
the fact that they are well-known atheists who live un-Muslim lives
and have persecuted unto death the Muslim movements in their countries."
Yet Iraq, Syria, and the PLO are the effective causes of global
terrorism. "More than half of the world's terrorism since 1969,
and nearly all of it since the fall of the Soviet Union, has been
conducted on behalf of the policies of those three regimes. By comparison,
Libya, Iran, and Sudan have been minor players."
What to do?
regimes. "Killing these regimes would be relatively easy, would
be a favor to the peoples living under them, and is the only way
to stop terrorism among us."
We should most publicly proceed to the business at hand. "It
is important that U.S. forces invade Iraq with the stated objective
of hanging Saddam and whomever we judge to have been too close to
him. Once those close to him realize this is going to happen, and
cannot be stopped, they will kill one another."
Professor Codevilla summarizes the principal weaknesses of Western
elites who do our strategic thinking. The first is the superstition
that violence and killing do not settle anything. "In fact,
they are the ultima ratio, the decisive argument, on earth. Mankind's
great questions are decided by war. The battle of Salamis decided
whether or not there would be Greek civilization."
Secondly, we should know that attempts to appeal to moderation don't
work, and in fact, reach back to bite us. "'Extremist' is one
of many pejorative synonyms for 'loser.' The surest way to lose
the support of 'moderates' is to be ineffective. Might is mistaken
for right everywhere but especially in the Middle East."
Don't try to reach for "root causes of resentment against us."
It will get you nowhere. Just identify the regimes that foster or
permit terrorism, use our might against them decisively, and turn
the targeted countries back to the people who live there. In the
course of things, it is entirely possible that they would discover
that a root cause of legitimate discontent is the lack of freedom,
political and material.
See The Claremont
Review of Books.