LtCol Oliver L. North
is a nationally syndicated columnist and the
honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance. An
educational and charitable foundation, the
Alliance was founded in 1990 by LtCol North,
who now serves as the organization's honorary
chairman. The committee works to promote freedom
and liberty, support the American military
and educate American youth on the military.
Washington, D.C. - The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu taught his men to "know your enemy" before going into battle. For if "you know your enemy and know yourself," he wrote, "you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." But, Sun Tzu warned, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."
In my 22 years as an officer of Marines - from Annapolis to The Basic School to the Naval War College - similar advice was drilled into us: to know your enemy. It's sound guidance, pretty basic stuff, really. Yet there are apparently those in our government - people with many years of experience - supposedly learned statesmen, according to their bios and press reports - who somehow don't get it.
Our present enemy, properly identified by President George W. Bush and his National Security team, is the radical Islamic jihadist terror movement. Our enemy is not limited to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, though they certainly fit the bill. Radical Islamic jihadist terrorists, principally financed by Saudi petro-dollars, also carry out their killing under the rubric of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, Ansar al-Islam, and dozens of other names. And though they use different monikers, they all have a common goal: to kill as many Americans, Christians and Jews as they can, using whatever tools they have at their disposal.
While these barbaric groups prefer mass killings and spectacular events like 9-11, they are more than willing to settle for individual atrocities: a suicide bus-bomber in Israel or the gruesome beheading of a single hostage. They know they can count on the Internet, Arabic-language broadcast media, of which al Jazerra is but one, and even Western press outlets to help them spread fear.
These enemies are utterly ruthless, and indescribably brutal. Though the leaders of these groups do all they can to avoid death or capture, their "foot soldiers" are not only willing to die for their cause - they want to die. And unlike our adversaries of the past, this enemy is not motivated by goals that inspired armies of old: land, treasure, strategic waterways, or natural resources. Today's enemy is instead goaded by a twisted belief that they have a holy mission to advance their religion and drive Western influence - meaning Judeo-Christian values - from any Islamic territory.
The President and his team understand this enemy. Some Democrats, like Senators Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman do as well. Unfortunately, others who manage to command much more media attention, apparently believe that President Bush and his generals are the enemy. And their attacks on the President over these past few weeks have proved Sun Tzu's admonition, that if you don't know who your enemy really is, "for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat."
The brutal beheading of American Paul Johnson is a tragic, sanguinary example of such a defeat. In the original statement issued by Paul Johnson's captors, they referred to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and said Johnson would be treated the same way that prisoners there were treated. The prison issue has inflamed the Arab world because too many of our political and media elites have treated the shameful actions of a few soldiers in an Iraqi prison as though it was the modern equivalent of the My Lai massacre. The blood of Paul Johnson is on their hands.
This week President George W. Bush met with Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy in the Oval Office. Hours earlier, a 33 year-old South Korean, Kim Sun-il, an Arabic translator working in Iraq, was brutally beheaded by terrorists. The terrorists took this man hostage and threatened to kill him in an effort to influence the South Korean government to withdraw its troops from Iraq. The brutal beheading came just days after the beheading of Paul Johnson and just six weeks after the beheading of Nick Berg.
Surely the sophisticated scribes of the vaunted White House press corps would want to know the President's reaction to the brutal beheading of Kim Sun-il and ask what more he can do to win this war and protect American citizens at home and abroad. But when the opportunity arose to ask about the most recent atrocity, the first question from an American reporter was to inquire of the "perception" that torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was authorized by the Bush administration. This inquiring whiz also wanted to know if the President thought it would be wise to have an independent commission look into the matter.
The media wants to know, because Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill are calling for exactly that. This week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her brethren held a news conference to demand that a Select Committee of the Congress be established to investigate abuses, not just at Abu Ghraib prison, but at any prison in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
They are convinced that the men and women of America's military are the bad guys. Senator Teddy Kennedy, an expert in scandals and water torture, routinely refers to abuses at Abu Ghraib as "torture" and "sadistic abuses." Former Vice President Al Gore routinely accuses the President of lying and setting the "moral climate for abuses" by our Armed Forces. Regrettably, they have spent far less time denouncing murderous terrorists, calling Islamic clerics to speak out against such behavior, or even issuing press releases condemning terror.
The War on Terror will not be won until America is united. And as long as Democrats target the Bush administration - not the terrorists - as the enemy, we are in trouble.