Gerard Baker of the Times Online offers a valiant effort to counter the tide of defeatism that continues in the so-called “war on terror” despite strong evidence to the contrary. Good luck, Mr. Baker.
He makes some good points, to wit:
Next time you hear someone say that the war in Afghanistan is an exercise in futility ask them this: do they seriously think that if the US and its allies had not ousted the Taleban and sustained an offensive against them for six years that there would have been no more terrorist attacks in the West?
Baker also describes the success of the surge. But his third point is the most useful of all in rebutting the widespread meme that our actions have only emboldened terrorists and fed their support throughout the world. The evidence is to the contrary:
The third and perhaps most significant advance of all in the War on Terror is the discrediting of the Islamist creed and its appeal…This was first of all evident in Iraq, where the head-hacking frenzy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates so alienated the majority of Muslims that it gave rise to the so-called Sunni Awakening that enabled the surge to be so effective.
But it has spread way beyond Iraq. As Lawrence Wright described in an important piece in The New Yorker last month, there is growing disgust not just among moderate Muslims but even among other jihadists at the extremism of the terrorists.
Deeply encouraging has been the widespread revulsion in Muslim communities in Europe – especially in Britain after the 7/7 attacks of three years ago. Some of the biggest intelligence breakthroughs in the past few years have been achieved from former al-Qaeda supporters who have turned against the movement.
Unfortunately, these words will be lost on those who believe the opposite to be true, although I’ve not seen much evidence to bolster their position other than the undeniable fact that the increasingly weakened, silenced, and marginalized Osama Bin Laden is still alive and unwell and living in Pakistan.
Why is the defeatism so tenacious? Why do people not “cheer up,” as the Times Online headline urges, at the prospect of our victory? Some of it is ignorance of the facts. Some of it is the resistance to changing an opinion, once formed. But some of it is a vested interest in continuing the defeatist narrative. Too many people’s reputations, political and otherwise, depend on it.