While the war in the Levant continues apace, Americans ought to focus for a moment on the near-pathetic ignorance of the bipartisan governing elite that directs their nation’s foreign policy. This vacuity was again highlighted last week by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Party chief Howard Dean. Sen. Schumer boycotted Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s address to Congress, and Mr. Dean described Maliki as an anti-Semite. Why? Well, because Maliki had damned Israel’s activities in Lebanon but failed to condemn Hezbollah’s actions.
One of the preoccupations of the authors of the American constitution was defining the danger posed to the new body politic by political, social, and economic factions. “By faction,” James Madison, the Constitution’s father, wrote in the justly famous Federalist No. 10,
As Israel and Hezbollah again prove racial and religious hatred are the core, irremediable traits of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the international media focuses on each side’s weaponry and the evacuees, Osama bin Laden is smiling and praising Allah in his mountain fastness. Again, as after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, bin Laden and his far-flung lieutenants can have no doubt about which side God is on.
Covert action is much talked about and little understood. At its most basic level, covert action is a set of intelligence operations undertaken by a specific state’s intelligence agencies to advance its national interests. They are executed in a manner that limits the visibility of that state’s hand in whatever is done. Ideally, covert actions cannot be traced back to their sponsor. Most people take the term covert action to mean violent actions of one kind or another: kidnapping, assassination, support for insurgents, etc. While violence can certainly be part of a covert-action campaign, the more insidious — and often more effective — arm of covert action is called “political action,” whereby one state seeks to influence the public opinion of another by speaking through the mouths of that country’s citizens. And let me stress, there is nothing wrong or immoral about covert political action. America used political action worldwide in the Cold War; Britain used it in the United States to accelerate neutral America’s entry into both world wars; the Saudis pay untold amounts to retired senior U.S. officials to speak admiringly of the anti-American desert tyranny; and Israel uses it today against America to ensure unlimited and unquestioning U.S. support. It is a legitimate foreign affairs tool, and the leaders of any nation who choose not to engage in such activity are certifiably negligent fools.
While Terrorism Focus previously examined al-Qaeda’s strategic and tactical doctrine (February 28, March 14), this article looks at the type and purpose of the non-military training that is given to the individual al-Qaeda fighter or mujahid. Based on al-Qaeda sources (see notes for complete listing), this training appears to be common to both the organization’s insurgents and their special forces, and is intended to produce fighters who are pious, disciplined and unity-minded, fatalistic, and cognizant of the requirements and attitudes of those they are defending.
- Whose side is the U.S. on?
America’s Sunni Islamist opponents must be ever more strongly sensing that Allah truly is on their side. Currently, this perception is due not only to the recent victory of the Islamist party Hamas in Palestine’s parliamentary elections, but more especially because of the U.S. reaction to that success. That reaction probably has polished off any remaining belief in the Muslim world — assuming there was any — that the United States is sincere about building democracy in the Middle East. The reaction likewise has validated Osama bin Laden’s repeated warning that the hypocritical West supports democracy only if elections further its plans to dominate and secularize the Islamic world.