Terrorisme, guerre, mondialisation, démocratie...
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Après le 11 sept. 01


Michael Ledeen, author of The War Against the Terror Masters (St Martin's Press), The Daily Telegraph, London (20.08.03)

The war against terror can be won only if we have the will

Long before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I wrote that the coalition had better be ready for a relentless terrorist assault, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, once Saddam had been toppled.

We had waited an unconscionably long time between the liberation of Afghanistan and the move against Saddam, thereby giving the terror masters in Baghdad, Teheran, Damascus and Riyadh abundant opportunity to plan their response. They decided to repeat what they saw as their winning strategy in Lebanon in the 1980s (driving out America and France) and 1990s (compelling an Israeli withdrawal from the south).

Iranian and Syrian leaders made no secret of their intent, and Bashar Assad even gave an interview in which he brazenly informed us - and potential recruits to the jihad - that the terror masters would use religiously inspired insurrection, assassination and terrorism first to bloody and then to humiliate the West, and anyone who joined us.

Just a few days ago, Paul Bremer - the de facto governor of Iraq - complained at the large number of foreign terrorists flowing into the country, and he specifically labelled Iran as a prime mover.

He announced that intelligence officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were actively organising terrorist operations. Yesterday's Financial Times carried a front-page story warning that thousands of Saudis were headed to Iraq to attack American and British targets.

Now perhaps more people will understand that the jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan is not limited to the citizens of one or two countries, but is waged against anyone who tries to make Iraq a free and successful country. The terror masters know that they would not survive successful democratic revolution on their doorsteps, because their own people would demand their own freedom.

The facts have been available for a long time, and no one should be surprised at the truck bomb attack on the UN's offices in Baghdad yesterday, which claimed the life of the UN Special Representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

But, as human nature contains an unlimited quantum of hope despite millennia of intensely unpleasant experience, many will resist drawing the obvious conclusions and, even more, be reluctant to take appropriate action.

The jihad in Iraq is simply a continuation of the terror war against the West that saw its most recent apogee on September 11, 2001. That war has been on for more than a quarter-century, and the terror masters will continue to wage it until they have either won or lost.

This terror war is currently centred in the Middle East (although battles are also waged in South Asia), where we are engaged in a regional conflict with Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Until the regimes of those countries surrender or are removed, we will be attacked, both in the Middle East and in our own countries.

And we cannot buy our way out of this war by changing our policies on such questions as Palestine and Israel, or on the presence of armed forces on Saudi soil, or by going easy on the weapons of mass destruction programmes of Syria and Iran.

Indeed, those who see peace between Israel and Palestine as the most urgent issue in the region should be the most vigorous in supporting democratic revolution in Syria and Iran, since it is clear that a good deal of Palestinian terrorism has been organised by the mullahcracy in Teheran, and the terrorists have trained in Syrian-occupied Lebanon.

Other lingering misconceptions about the nature of the terror network have got in the way of clear understanding and hence of effective policy. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and his British counterpart, Jack Straw, often speak as if they believe we could actually enlist Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran in the war against terror, which is rather like Roosevelt convincing himself that he could enlist Hitler and Mussolini in a war against Japan following Pearl Harbor.

That such serious and distinguished people have embraced a delusion of such magnitude testifies both to the cunning of the terror masters and the painful obligations that the truth imposes on the free societies of the world.

It would be nice to settle things at the negotiating table, and we are inclined to talk and talk, and walk last mile after last mile, to avoid the unpleasant reality that we are indeed at war.

Perhaps the bombing of the UN offices will clarify things, and spur the feckless critics of the war against terrorism to join us. The terror masters do not think that will happen. They expect that the flow of body bags will stimulate world public opinion to demand an end to the "occupation" of Iraq - which would transform Iraq and Afghanistan from humiliating defeats for the Islamists into glorious triumphs over the West.

The terror masters would then have demonstrated one of their central theses: that the crusaders and infidels of the West have no stomach for real fighting, and lack the tenacity and determination to prevail in this war.

That would be a catastrophe, especially because our victories against the Taliban and Saddam have threatened the terror regimes as never before. Particularly in Iran - the most powerful engine of the terror network - the overwhelming majority of the people desperately wish to be free, and passionately want to join the ranks of civilised countries.

Modest support of the Iranian people would probably bring the downfall of the mullahs, thereby removing the linchpin of the terrorist edifice. Without Iran, the Syrians would be unable to sustain the murderous activities of groups such as Hizbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and both the Ba'athist regime in Damascus and the terrorists it has been supporting would be easy prey for their enemies.

The terror masters are wounded and frightened, but they are still on the battlefield and they are determined to prevail. They understand, correctly in my opinion, that it is all a matter of will. We have more than enough power to prevail, but we have yet to demonstrate the resolve to impose victory on our enemies.



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Dernière mise à jour: 20.08.2003

François Brutsch - Genève (Suisse) & London (UK)