Michael Totten

Who Are We At War With?

Keith Berry emailed me and 18 other bloggers and asked what should be a simple question. Who are we at war with?
He wanted a one-sentence answer. Before 9/11 such a question would more easily yield a one-sentence, even a one-word, answer.
During the Cold War: The Soviet Union. During World War II: The Axis. During the Civil War: The Confederacy (or the Union.) During the American Revolution: The Crown.
But today? Who are we at war with? That’s an essay question. And because it’s an essay question, it’s no wonder we’re having such a polarized debate about what to do with our foreign policy.
Go take a look at the answers Keith received.
I can group them into three categories. One group (only two leftist bloggers answered this way) have a smartass definition of the enemy that isn’t worth addressing seriously. A second group says we’re at war with Al Qaeda. And the third group, which my answer belongs to, expands the definition of the enemy to include terror-supporting states and terrorist groups that are not Al Qaeda.
My answer to Keith’s question. Who are we at war with? Islamic fascists, both religious and secular.
It makes little sense to me to declare war on Al Qaeda, but not declare war against Al Qaeda’s Islamist allies in terror like Hezbollah and Hamas. And it makes little sense to me to declare war against Hezbollah and Hamas, but not against the Baathist states (Syria and Iraq) and the Islamist states (Saudi Arabia and Iran) who provide them with financial aid, material aid, military aid, and real estate. They are all networked together, sometimes loosely, other time less so. Not every group is linked to every other group, so sometimes their connections to each other are slight and indirect (as seems to be the case with Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein). They all have a few things in common, even so. They’re all Islamic, they’re all fascist, and they’re all involved with anti-Western terorrism of one kind or another.
If Al Qaeda ceases utterly to exist tomorrow, and if everything else in the Middle East is preserved exactly as it is right now, would it really be time to declare victory? I do not think so.