Rowan Scarborough and Bill Gertz have a regular feature in the Washington Times called “Inside the Ring,” which deals with intelligence, national security, and military matters. Today they have a little item called “Iranian EFPs” that got my heart pounding:
…Iranian paramilitary troops and intelligence agents have been supplying Iraqi Shi’ite insurgents with “explosive-formed projectiles”…EFPs. The shaped charges are designed to penetrate hardened targets by focusing the power of their explosives. They were built for anti-tank missiles and nuclear weapons detonation (my emphasis).
Sen. Ron Wyden…said U.S. military personnel believe “Iran is supplying devices that are now killing our courageous troops.” He asked Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte…(who) responded that the explanation of the Iranian shaped charges is “generally true.”
CIA Director Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden also said: “that’s very consistent, senator, with our analysis. We believe that to be true. The EFPs are coming from Iran. They are being used against our forces…and incident for incident cause significantly more casualties than any other improvised explosive devices do, and they are provided to Shi’ite militia. That’s all correct.”
Apparently Senator Wyden didn’t ask the questions I would have asked, namely “how long have you known this? What actions have been recommended to protect our troops against these fiendish weapons and the Iranian paramilitaries and intelligence agents?”
They are not around to answer, so I’ll do it: we have known about this for years, but the Intelligence Community (sic) denied having irrefutable evidence. And the Intelligence Community has exercised a veto on our war-fighting strategy, by slyly arguing that it would be wrong for the administration to go after the Syrians and Iranians until and unless we have proof positive that the terrorists are trained in Syria and Iran (or by Syrians and Iranians) and that the explosive devices are manufactured in Iran and delivered by Iranians.
Since they, and only they, decided when the proof was positive, they prevented us from effectively defending Iraq, or effectively defending our troops. For this, I trust they will be subjected to very high temperatures for a considerable stretch of eternity.
It gets worse: we have not done much of anything offensively, save for going after terrorists we caught en flagrante, placing IEDs or EFPs, or at the other end of detonation wires. We have done some defensive things, like enhancing our surveillance, trying to get better information, making our movements less predictable, getting better armor on our vehicles (although the EFPs can destroy most anything we’ve got). And when, by accident, we captured some Iranian officers or agents, we sent them back across the border.
Senator Wyden does not seem to have been interested in the “why” for this criminal dereliction of duty; he just wanted to establish the facts. That’s really not good enough, but it would be unfair to single him out, and indeed he should be praised for getting our intelligence (sic) czars on the record, which is more than his colleagues have managed lo these many years. But the “why” screams for an answer, which comes in two stages.
Stage One: From the beginning, the war was fettered by a fundamental failure of strategic vision, accompanied by an intellectual conceit. The failure of vision was the insistence that we would fight in Iraq alone, win there, and then move on. This was never possible, even with twice the number of troops, even with rules of engagement that permitted maximum mayhem whenever an American with a gun felt it necessary. It was never possible because it was always a regional war. Just ask our enemies in Baghdad and Tehran. They took it for granted that we would remove Saddam and occupy Iraq, and they planned for the next move. Even before Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced, they were busy organizing the terror war against us, and the numerous possible civil wars among Iraqis (and, in that connection, someone should point out to General Hayden that those terrible explosive devices are also delivered to Sunnis; just look at Anbar Province, which is almost entirely Sunni, and is full of IEDs and EFPs).
It did not require “intelligence services” to know this would happen; Bashir Assad and various mullahs and ayatollahs announced it well in advance, as I and others reported well before any American soldier set foot in Iraq. It did require good intelligence to know the details, but time and time again the “intelligence services” refused to accept information, even from proven sources, that would have permitted us to identify the networks through which the Syrians and Iranians were organizing the misnamed insurgency.
For the most part, the terror war in Iraq is not an insurgency at all; it is an unconventional war waged against us by the terror masters in Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia. We refused to see it, we deliberately and systematically blinded ourselves to it, and this “we” encompasses them all, president and vice president, national security advisers, secretaries of defense and state and their top aides (can anyone forget the incredible claim from Powell’s Deputy, Richard Armitage–the man who outed Valerie Plame to Robert Novack and then clammed up about it, thereby sending Judy Miller to prison and Scooter Libby to trial–that “Iran is a democracy,” and his public announcement that the Iranians would soon turn over top al Qaeda terrorists to our criminal justice system?), and the Intelligence (sic) Community.
Stage Two: Once blinded, we then dumbed ourselves down in two ways. First (this is the intellectual conceit) by convincing ourselves that the defenestration of Saddam would provoke the fall of other regimes in the region, more or less automatically. We wouldn’t have to do anything, except maybe deliver a few inspiring speeches. Second, confident that time would work in our favor, we embraced the European charade of negotiating with the mullahs over Iran’s nuclear project, when everyone knew it was a hoax and the only result would be to give the Islamic Republic more time to go nuclear. Yes, I know all about “political necessity,” and the “need for allies,” no question. But Machiavelli, as so often, has it absolutely right: “if you are victorious, everyone will judge your methods to have been appropriate.” And if you lose, you’re a bum, no matter how diligently you flattered foreign leaders, no matter how often you went to the United Nations, no matter how bipartisan you seemed to the opposition in Washington. It’s all about winning and losing, and there is no sign–I say this gnashing my teeth and heart pounding–there is no sign that our leaders understand that. It is hard to convince me otherwise, after all the brave speeches, all the tough talk, and the brief spasms of action–such as the arrests of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers in Baghdad and Irbil–only to have the president’s words deconstructed and gainsayed by his own people.
Go back and reread Negroponte and Hayden. They swear that the Iranians are killing our troops. They could say similar things about the Syrians. What excuse does this president have for his refusal to go after the regimes in Tehran and Syria? How can he permit his top cabinet officers to reassure craven appeasers like Joe Biden and Richard Lugar that we will certainly not enter Iranian or Syrian territory to destroy the IED/EFP assembly lines, or to blow up their terrorist training camps? He continues to give our enemies a free shot at us in Iraq, risking nothing of their own territory. And he tolerates voices in his administration who want to run away from even this little token response; they want to send even these Iranian killers back home, when they should be sent to Guantanamo.
There are several ways to describe this state of affairs, none of them flattering. I’ll settle for “immoral.”
This president–and you can add in the secretary of state, the national security adviser, and the former secretary of defense–bravely and correctly said that our greatest weapon against the terror masters is freedom, and that the best way to defeat them is to spread freedom. Bravo! But then they betrayed freedom throughout the region, briefly speaking out to Egyptians and Libyans, only to abandon those countries’ most eloquent freedom fighters. They betrayed the Iranian people by refusing to support revolution and shrinking from even saying we want regime change in Tehran, let alone doing anything to advance it. Ditto for Syria. And free Lebanon is under literal siege from Iran and its creature Hizbollah, with no sign of anything remotely approaching an appropriately vigorous defense from Washington.
Is it not shameful to see Secretary Rice knocking herself out to defend the terrorist state in would-be Palestine, and doing virtually nothing to defend the fledgling democracy in Lebanon?
A fine mess you’ve got us into, I think Laurel once said to Hardy. And the hell of it is that we could win this thing simply by sticking to our own announced principles, and support democratic revolution. I sometimes think that compassionate conservatives are the last true Marxists, because they seem to have a touching faith in vast, impersonal forces that will change the world. The truth is that men and women create change, if they will only fight for it. Which, alas, it seems we are not.
Where does all this lead? If the Democrats have their announced way, we will be humiliated in Iraq and leave in disgrace, thereby enhancing the global charisma of the jihad, enormously strengthening the terror masters, and ensuring the success of the Iranian nuclear project. How could any self-respecting fanatic not then believe that the moment of reconquista was at hand? We would then face terror on an epic scale, here and everywhere.
Alternatively, it leads to military war against Iran and Syria. This president may have decided he will not leave scenario #1 to his successor, nor to his biographers. If so, he will go after the nuclear project, and perhaps against Iran’s armies and navy as well. It would be the proof of an utterly failed strategy, and earn him, and us, the condemnation of most of the world.
That’s what happens when you don’t do what you should have done for years on end.