America’s Limited Options

By Ted Belman

Before 9/11, Islamists attacked American forces, ships, diplomats and Embassies from time to time with relative impunity. The enormity of 9/11 demanded that the US put an end to such attacks. Her first response which came within 24 hours of the attack was to enable planeloads of Saudi VIPs to leave the country. Thus even before determining who was responsible and what course of action to be taken, Bush decided to absolve and protect the Saudis. Incredible, considering that 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudis.

Nine days later, Bush identified the perpetrators as the “enemies of freedom” (how generic) and named al Qaeda as the culprit declaring that it follows a “fringe form of Islamic extremism” thereby absolving Islam also.

Although he grandly declared that “we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorists” he did no such thing except for invading Afghanistan.

I urge you to reread my article What War on Terror? which sets this out in greater detail.

President Bush studiously avoided the Islamic requirement of Jihad in the name of which al Qaeda was operating and the fact that Saudi madrassas and mosques all over the world emphasize this duty. Nor did he mention that al Qaeda is financed by individual Saudis and perhaps by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Instead, after invading Afghanistan, he substituted another enemy, namely those who were pursuing WMD. This change of target lead to the invasion of Iraq with disastrous consequences. When the Bush administration accepted that there were no WMD in Iraq (preferring not to pursue them in Syria) they shifted the rationale for invading to an humanitarian one pointing out the hundreds of thousands Iraqis, Sadaam Hussein had killed and continued to kill. Then, after Sharansky’s book, The Case for Democracy was published, democratization became the rationale or elixer.

Humanitarian intervention is never done for humanitarian reasons. Thus Rawanda wasn’t invaded to prevent the slaughter of the 800,000 Tutstis and Sudan is not invaded to prevent the slaughter of over 200,000 persons around Darfur.

There must be self interest before invasion is warranted. Thus Serbia was invaded not because of the alleged genocide (less than 2500 bodies have been found, being both Serbs and Moslems) but because of geo-political reasons. Similarly Israel is restrained from killing Arabs in self defense, not because anyone cares about the death of Arabs but for geopolitical reasons. Arabs kill thousands of other Arabs and no one cares but if Israel kills one Arab even in self-defense the whole world is up in arms. Nor is there any attempt to prevent the killing of Jews, just the opposite (look at the international support for Fatah and Hamas), once again for geo-political reasons.

Okay, at least the US is determined to stop the spread of WMD isn’t it? Not if it means going to war over it, it would appear. Furthermore Iran has been actively backing the slaughter of US forces in Iraq and the US has withheld criticizing Iran until lately, and even then half heartedly, and has certainly has not punished it for doing so.

In order to justify invading Iraq, the US adopted the policy of pre-emption. But pre-emption accomplishes only temporary relief. When you invade a country, be it Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran you do so to establish a friendly regime. If you are unable to do so, you must be prepared to stay to shackle the resurgence of an unfriendly regime. This is proving too onerous a task if not an impossible one. Thus the US is looking to cut its losses. None of the enemies of the US is going to let the US succeed in doing so. They will press their advantage to the hilt.

The most immediate issue facing the US is the fact that Iran, al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents want to drive the US out of Iraq and, ultimately, the ME. The US must decide what its vital interests are in the ME and how best to protect them. Obviously the protection of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are vital interests. Can the US allow Iran to control Iraqi oil?

What is the strategic value of Jordan and Lebanon? For that matter, what is the strategic value of Israel? Is it a liability or an asset? The US is obviously committed to shrinking Israel to the Green Line thereby reducing its value as an asset in order to lessen it’s detriment as a liability. I believe this is the wrong choice. Any goodwill created will be short lived and the value of Israel as an ally will be permanently diminished to say nothing of the immorality of it. Furthermore, if Israel is weakened too much it may have to turn to the Samson option and this would be a disaster for the world.

But back to 9/11 and the US response.

The US managed to install the Karzai government but it isn’t strong enough to control the whole country, even with the help of NATO. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have regrouped in Pakistan and continue their efforts to chase NATO out of Afghanistan and retake the country. It is only a matter of time. Similarly, the US was better off in Iraq and more in control before she invaded it. I do not believe that this poor outcome was the result of poor management or insufficient troops. Given the desire of Iran, Syria and al Qaeda to chase the US out, it was a mission impossible from the start. The US should have included Iran and Syria in its invasion plans in order to win.

There is little doubt that as a result of the US declaring war on terror and invading Afghanistan and Iraq,

    1. terrorist groups have grown stronger and have an abundance of recruits and money.
    2. US deterrence is shot. Iran and Syria have learned that they can kill Americans with impunity and can stand up to it.
    3. Mushariff has been weakened and Pakistan destabilized. Both were allies of the US

So what should or could the US do in response? Lob a few missiles? Hardly.

US Options

Bush has taken the first step by dropping the use of the phrase “war on terror” and now refers to the battle “as a global war of ideology against a network of terrorists”. He remains unwilling to finger the Saudi support for the Wahhabist ideology which leads to terrorism. To talk about root causes of terror, that has to rank way up there.

The Rand Corporation issued a major report, Building Moderate Muslim Networks in which they advocated that

    “the United States must do more to develop and support networks of moderate Muslims who are too often silenced by violent radical Islamists.”

    “Instead of focusing on the Middle East, where most of the radical Islamic thought originates and is firmly entrenched, the report recommends reaching out to activists, leaders and intellectuals in Turkey, Southeast Asia, Europe and other open societies. The goal of this outreach would be to reverse the flow of ideas and have more democratic ideas flow back to the less fertile ground for moderate network-building of the Middle East.

    “Partners in this network-building effort should be those who share key dimensions of democratic culture, the study says. The report recommends targeting five groups as potential building blocks for networks: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists; women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns; and moderate journalists and scholars”.

Daniel Pipes has long insisted that “radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution”. In support of this report he wrote Bolstering Moderate Muslims and A Million Moderate Muslims on the March and he is joined by others in this opinion, including The Hudson Institute.

Having said that, there are many, including Andrew Bostom and Hirsi Ali, who discount the potential of this effort succeeding either because of intimidation or because the “moderates “ are so few in number. (See also Alyssa Lappen’s Moderate and Radical Muslims: the Confused PBS View )

Perhaps the last word goes to Fjordman who in his column, Do we want an Islamic Reformation? wrote

    “The only way you could, even theoretically, create a peaceful, tolerant Islam would be to permanently ignore all teachings, contained in the Koran, the hadith and the sira, originating from the violent Medina period. I doubt whether this is practically possible, and even if it was, it would mean that Muslims quite literally have to get rid of half of the Koran, which again means that Mr. Wilder is correct.”

Nevertheless, I submit that such an effort as laid out by Rand Institute must be encouraged and supported with billions of dollars. But nothing short of a reformation of Islam will do. Islam must excise the odious (to the western mind at least) elements.

Secondly, it stands to reason that if the US is going to work actively to support the reformation of Islam, it must at the same time work to undermine contrary forces and influences. Laws must be passed which outlaws Islamists and the preaching of political Islam as subversive. Anyone or group advocating for political Islam must be imprisoned or deported . Political correctness shouldn’t prevent honest criticism of the objectionable aspects of Islam. The exercise of free speech shouldn’t be restricted if it is offensive.

Given the threat Islam poses for Europe, Europe will no doubt be a positive force for this agenda. European officials have already backed a plan to profile mosques, It will now “map out mosques on the continent to identify imams who preach radical Islam that raises the threat of homegrown terrorism.”.. “The project, to be finished by the fall, will focus on the roles of imams, their training, their ability to speak in the local language and their source of funding”

The US must also stop playing footsie with Islamists in Kosovo, Chechnya, Gaza and elsewhere, where it uses them as proxies. The double game must stop.

Thirdly, the US must adopt a policy of containment of Iran. Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear bombs and expanding its influence. Furthermore the US must abandon the idea of getting the regime to change and instead, getting Iranians to change the regime.

Fourthly, Israel should be strengthened not weakened. Peace will only come by changing the paradigm. (See my article in Israpundit, The ‘peace process’ is in need of a paradigm shift ) Instead of clamouring for political rights, i.e., a two state solution, the US should pursue an humanitarian solution as described by the Jerusalem Summit. Such a solution would involve disbanding UNRWA and dealing with Arab refugees under UNHCR as all other refugees are dealt with. The former serves to perpetuate the problem whereas the latter solves the problem.

Fifthly, assuming a unified Iraq cannot be stabilized, the US should support a federated Iraq where oil revenues are shared but with considerable autonomy to each group. If not it should support independence for Kurdistan, including Kirkup. The US forces in Iraq should then be redeployed to Kurdistan. The US should work to achieve an accommodation between Turkey and the Kurds and make certain that Kurdistan is an ally of the US and not Iran. Furthermore the US should support the secularists in Turkey rather than Erdogan.

The debate currently in the US is about when to bring the boys home. It should be about how to win. The course of action I have laid out has a reasonable chance for success. It should be pursued with resolve.

May 26, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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4 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. This is all pie in the sky and let us face the truth on this, because all of this material needs to be read along with our stringent criticism of the American Government and its alliance with Iranian Islamofascism. Larry Houle above does not once bring to our attention the semminal and pivotal Yugoslavian experience when the US and the EU, along with NATO, were the backers of Iranian Islamofascism, and still are backing the Bosnian and Kosovon Islamists.

    So it is just words.

    Just as the American Government is meeting with Iran over the Iraqi issue.

    So what can Houle actually do? Well he could start telling the truth about the relationship between the US Government and Iran, and not ignore the lessons of Yugoslavia. The proposals are good, but are a wish-list and will not happen, and Houle has not factored in reality, the reality of the basically class relations between the US and Eu Governments with Iran and Islam.

  2. The US must immediately impose DEFCON 1 sanctions against Iran.. Any war against Iran will be a disaster. We could lose 3500 soldiers in one day. Following are an innovative sanction regime – Defcon 1 to Defcon 4 – THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE THE SUPPORT OF RUSSIA, CHINA OR THE EU.



    We need to deal with Iran now otherwise the US could be left at one minute to midnight with no other option but to attack Iran. The longer the US waits to impose a meaningful sanction regime against Iran, the greater the necessity of military action will become – with all the potential disastrous political and economic consequences for both parties.


    The United States with or without EU/Russia/China support immediately imposes economic and political sanctions against Iran. The sanction regime is divided into 4 parts – Defcom 1 to Defcom 4 with each phase commencing every 30 days and staying in effect until the crisis is resolved. Within the space of 4 months Iran will be under total world wide devastating economic sanctions. ANY INDIVIDUAL, CORPORATION, COUNTRY THAT DISOBEYS ANY PART OF THE SANCTION REGIME – THEN THE TOTALITY OF THE ENTIRE SANCTION REGIME IMMEDIATELY APPLIES TO THEM.


    Under Defcon 1 sanctions Iran is immediately hit with the following measures:

    1. The cutting off of all military and nuclear technology, materials, training, building including the Bushehr nuclear power plant being built by the Russians.

    2. The suspension of all flights – both private and commercial aircraft in or out of Iran.

    3. The worldwide banning of all Iranian passports.

    4. Severing all banking relationships between all Iranian Government agencies/officials/organizations, banks, companies, front companies with the entire world banking community.

    5. The freezing of all Iranian assets throughout the world including all assets of Iranian Government, Iranian companies, front companies, government officials/organizations.

    DEFCON 2

    In 30 days, if Iran refuses to stop all uranium enrichment and sit down at the table in good faith then the imposition of the following Defcon 2 Sanctions:

    1. The immediate stoppage of all forms of transportation coming in or out of Iran including, buses, automobiles, boats. Only oil tankers would be exempt.

    2. Cutting off of all satellite signals, phone lines, internet connections, electricity etc.

    3. The complete closure of all border crossings to Iran.

    4. The complete shutting down of all economic activity/trade with the outside world except for the importation of gasoline into Iran and the export of oil and gas out of Iran.

    DEFCON 3

    Thirty days after the imposition of Defcon 2 sanctions, the start of Defcon 3:

    1. The importation of gasoline into Iran to be ceased by all countries, companies and individuals.

    DEFCON 4

    120 days after the start of the first sanction regime – Defcon 4 – the stoppage of all payments for Iranian oil and gas exports – NOT THE STOPPAGE OF THE EXPORT OF IRANIAN OIL AND GAS. JUST THE PAYMENTS FOR THESE PRODUCTS.

    Iran can export oil and gas to China etc but the Chinese and other countries can not send money or any other financial instruments to Iran. In short – the oil/gas flows out but no money flows in. If Iran decides to stop the export of oil to certain countries but not to others like China, then under this sanction regime all countries including China must help the affected country or countries. In short, share the pain of oil shortages. If any country refuses to cooperate then the totality of these sanctions will be imposed immediately on them.

    Again, if any country, company, or individual chooses to disobey these sanctions then THE TOTALITY OF THE SANCTIONS IMMEDIATELY APPLIES TO THEM. For example, if China decides to continue trading with Iran then all trade between China and ALL countries, companies, individuals immediately ceases. All Chinese container ships on their way to the US or any other country must be turned back. All international flights in or out of China cease. All Chinese passports to be null and void etc. If any country decides to continue to trade with China then the totality of the sanctions immediately applies to them. And so on.

    This sanction regime is absolutely devastating. Having these sanctions apply to any country who decides to ignore them will totally devastate that countries economy. THIS LINKAGE GIVES THESE SANCTIONS TOUGH LOVE FURIOUS TEETH.


    Larry Houle


    There needs to be a Reformation of Islam. All peace loving Muslims who believe in the teachings of an ALLAH of PEACE AND LOVE must stand up and demand the reform of Islam. If Islam is not reformed then it is no longer a religion but a totalitarian system on a par with Nazism, Communism and Fascism. To take man’s natural Concept of ALLAH, a conception of Peace and Love and Goodness, an all Wise, all Loving ALLAH for all mankind, and turn ALLAH – by bastardizing his teachings into a murderous ALLAH of hate, death and destruction, for the creation of a totalitarian system is one of the greatest sins that can be committed against ALLAH. The greatest danger mankind faces is the smuggling of a nuclear weapon by an Islamic Fundamentalist into a major western city killing millions in the name of and to the greater glory of ALLAH. If the hateful teachings are not removed from Islam this is the disaster that will destroy civilization as we know it. It will dramatically change human history forever.

    In order to reform Islam we must start with the following declaration:









    The above lays the intellectual framework for an Islamic Reformation.

    All teachings in the Koran and all Islamic texts (written or verbal ) that are not PERFECT are not the teachings of ALLAH – A PERFECT GOD – A GOD OF REASON but the teachings of man. This means that all teachings recorded in the Koran and all other Islamic texts, revelations, writings, sayings, fatwas of murder, killing, death and destruction, violence, hate, suicide bombers, violent jihad, terrorism, torture, maiming, wife beating, inferiority of woman, women as instruments of sexual pleasure in paradise, honor killings, stoning, cutting off limbs, child sex, bigotry, intolerance, slavery, inequality of infidels, inequality of any human being, that infidels can be murdered as a holy duty, that Muslims who renounce Islam can be killed, that Muslims (or anyone) who challenge the teachings of Islam can be murdered, etc are irrational AND NOT THE PERFECT TEACHINGS OF ALLAH – A PERFECT GOD – A GOD OF REASON – A GOD OF ALL LOVE AND PEACE.

    All Imams/ Fundamentalists who quote these phrases from the Koran are blaspheming against Allah.

    Osma bin laden and all other terrorists who issue Fatwas calling for death and destruction are blaspheming Allah – A PERFECT GOD – A GOD OF REASON.

    By teaching young Muslims that ALLAH IS A PERFECT GOD – A GOD OF REASON – that all the teachings of ALLAH – A PERFECT GOD MUST BE PERFECT we will occupy the moral and intellectual unassailable high ground. All the above mentioned teachings of Jihad, killing of infidels, terrorism etc are sins against ALLAH – A PERFECT GOD – A GOD OF LOVE AND PEACE. No ALLAH who is ALLAH would ever preach that killing and murdering of any human being in his name will be rewarded by accession to paradise. You cannot climb to heaven on the corpses of the murdered. No ALLAH who is ALLAH would ever create a Paradise full of big breasted sexual nymphs. All such teachings are the commands of evil men and false prophets. If ALLAH commanded that infidels (or any other human being) be killed then he would be irrational and evil and no longer PERFECT – no longer GOD.

    This is the only way to rescue Islam from these brutal killers

    Any Muslim who supports suicide bombers, acts of violence – if they continue to support this evil – are not muslims – they are blaspheming against the very essence of ALLAH – A GOD OF PEACE AND LOVE – A PERFECT GOD OF REASON. Any Muslim who commits acts of violence, acts of terrorism, acts of violent jihad in the name of ALLAH are not Muslims – they’re just MURDERERS. All teachings in the Koran that are not of ALLAH – A PERFECT GOD OF REASON – blaspheme ALLAH and are evil. They must be renounced and denounced totally and completely WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION. These teachings must be removed from the Koran and a NEW MODERN KORAN published. The publication of a MODERN KORAN will be an instant worldwide best seller.

    In this way you can start to drive a stake through the heart of the evil irrational Islamic teachings.


    Larry Houle

  4. Ted, you have provided an excellent analysis. Good work.

    You do speak supportively of the Rand Corporation’s advice that is akin to Dr. Daniel Pipe’s view that radical Islam is the problem and that moderate Islam is the solution. Further you do speak supportively of Americans doing more to encourage and support moderate Muslims in various Muslim nations including Iran, to do more to rid Islam of the radicals and thereby effect regime change.

    I seems however that while you support those views as being the right thing to do, you also recognize at the same time that neither America nor Israel or the rest of the West for that matter, can afford to risk waiting for those efforts to reform Islam to bear fruit. I agree.

    I do think we speak with one voice in believing that first we have to get the attention of the Muslim world by devastating Iran and Syria, make known that we we know what the Saudis have been and are up to and unless the Saudis want the same fate as Iran and Syria, they had better make a 18- degree turn by making turning away from Wahabism and to reform, make a 100% effort to rid the Muslim Middle East of radical Islam and aid the West in ridding themselves of all radical elements that are imbedded within Western societies.

    Once America gets the attention of the Muslim world and strike equal measures of fear and respect for America, reformation of Islam will become a possibility. Further, the mistake of the UN Partition Resolution of 1947 which the world knew the Arabs would reject would be corrected and the Palestinians would become Arabs, the notion of an independent Palestinian state would vanish and with Palestinians absorbed into Jordan, already a Palestinian state as Emmanuel Winston has advocated for some time, Israel would be a nations strong and secure comprising greater Israel plus Gaza and the West Bank and as a strong, thriving nation the Arabs would finally settle down to see that having a peaceful and strong Israel as their neighbor is far better then having unstable radical Palestinians as their neighbors.

    To conclude, Ted you have provided a very good analysis and good advice for the future. We can only hope that those charged with making decisions as to what path America will hereafter follow will read and be influenced to change direction as you have laid out.

    Good work!

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