Fighting It– Not Losing Our Will to Win

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch weighs in on the risks of losing our will to win. Reviewing history, he reminds us that General George Washington lost a bunch of battles, but won the war because he persisted.  He implies that the current bickering between Dems and Republicans is hurting our ability to persist in this monumental struggle with Islamo-fascism.  He reminds us that media and some prominent Democrats (Sen. Feingold, e.g) even refuse to acknowledge the ideology is ‘fascistic’.


The Islamic terrorists or as President Bush calls them — Islamic fascists — are continuing their ruthless bombing campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan. The casualty numbers are staggering. Nearly every day in Iraq alone, 50 or more civilians are found tortured and their mutilated bodies are dumped on city streets. The number of American military personnel killed in Iraq is 2,670 and 19,945 have been injured. In Afghanistan, 276 Americans have been killed and 930 injured. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to be between 41,000 and 46,000. Afghan civilian deaths are estimated at 3,485 with 6,200 injured.The effect on Americans at home has been devastating.

…I believe this war of civilizations, which was brought to our shores in 2001, is one of the most important wars we have ever fought. In the Revolutionary War back in 1775-1783, we had extraordinary leaders, including George Washington, chosen as General and Commander-in-Chief and later elected President of the United States. We forget that he lost almost every battle at the time, but he ultimately won the war. But there were moments — the harsh winter at Valley Forge — when it all looked hopeless and Washington was sharply criticized by fellow Americans. He had the strength to ultimately prevail and overcome the military defeats and personal attacks on his abilities.

Before we entered World War II in December 1941, most of Europe with the exception of Great Britain had been conquered by Nazi armies, and Russia, then the U.S.S.R., was retreating under attack. In World War II, American casualties totaled 291,577 dead and 671,846 injured. Under the extraordinary leadership of F.D.R., the Allies ultimately won the war, despite losing a number of battles. We would not have prevailed had the British not kept hope alive by continuing the battle when all of the other European nations had either surrendered or been overrun and accepted the Nazi regime. The Russians also were key to the Allies’ success, having sacrificed 10 million Soviet soldiers in liberating their own occupied lands, as well as central Europe on their way to capturing Berlin. The Soviet losses in taking Berlin alone are estimated at 300,000.

Why do I recite these historical facts? Because I believe that the U.S. is faltering in the current war against international terrorism, and we are losing our will to prevail. We are losing our fighting spirit as a result of the fighting between Republicans and Democrats on just how to prosecute the war.

The President calls the war on terror “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.” The President’s speech was attacked, as usual, by a number of Democratic party leaders with Senator Ted Kennedy in the lead.

One of the worst attacks on the President came from Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, himself a presidential candidate in 2008. He demanded that the President stop referring to those engaged in terrorist attacks against us and others as Islamic fascists. He said, “Fascist ideology…doesn’t have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.” But what about the tens of millions who are terrorists and want to kill us? Does he have a description for them? The media rarely call those engaged in acts of terrorism “terrorists,” preferring to refer to them simply as “militants.”

The President believes, as do I, that Islamic terrorists pose a mortal threat to this country and the West in general. Since those terrorists have already attacked the U.S. on a number of occasions — 9-11, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on our embassies in Africa, the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and the army barracks in Saudi Arabia — and have attacked commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191, and injuring 1,500, and the London subway, killing 52 and injuring 700, isn’t it his duty to seek to rally and inform the nation? In attempting to prevent him from speaking out, are these Democratic Party leaders performing a public service? I don’t think so.

People can disagree on whether we should have invaded Iraq. I believe on the basis of the “slam dunk” description and information provided at the time by CIA director George Tenet, the President made the right decision.

But all of that should be put aside, since we are there now. We have made major progress by ridding Iraq of a despot who is now on trial in an Iraqi court for having killed 50,000 Iraqi Kurds with poison gas, a WMD. The Iraqis have democratically elected a president and a congress. The challenge now is to prevent Iraq from further deteriorating into civil war and becoming another failed state that would be a terrorist haven and training ground.

My personal view is that if we told our regional allies — Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan — and our NATO allies that unless they join us with boots on the ground and share the casualties and cost of the ongoing war, we will leave; they would have no option but to come in; otherwise on our leaving the civil war would intensify and spill over Iraq’s borders.

In all events, seeking as some do to make our involvement in Iraq a partisan issue and characterizing the President’s efforts to protect the homeland from terrorists in an adversarial manner is endangering the country at a moment in time when we are facing an existential threat to our very survival as a nation.

Of course, the President, Vice President and Secretaries of Defense and State have made monumental mistakes in the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Great mistakes in handling the war against terror were also committed by prior administrations. .. to acknowledge the enormity of the danger we face and for reasonable people in both parties to join together to formulate a unified approach to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and indeed, to our foreign policy in the entire Middle East.


3 Responses to “Fighting It– Not Losing Our Will to Win”

  1. S.H. Says:

    I find a lot of this line of thinking misguided, or at least confused.

    First, Iraq is in a sectarian “civil war” (or use other vaguer terms if preferred), and the increasing consensus about this is leaving a very diminished amount of any serious opposition to this conclusion. Many have long wondered what our removal of (al queda-antagonist) Saddam Hussein and now the current Iraqi sectarian violence has to do with 9/11 and our fight to reduce terrorist acts by al queda and similar groups.

    It’s also not clear why this is sexed up as such an ‘epic clash of civilizations’, unless we are choosing to build it up (and at the same time build up the egos of these Batman level psychos in al queda) by so elevating them. They are zero threat to the existence of the United States of America (even if they can obviously do serious damage in isolated events). This is NOTHING like the grevious threat implied by 10,000 Soviet ICBMs heading toward us. Or the international power represented by Japan/Germany in WWII. Why is our leadership so afraid of them, and so eager to build them up as dark supermen? What happened to “nothing to fear but fear itself”? I don’t find our current leadership brave, merely caterwauling.

    Other than against Iraq amidst their own intra-national meltdown, I don’t see us in any “war”. Afhanistan by all reports is getting worse (devolving back to Taliban rule), not better. We’ve done nothing about Pakistan (where Bin Laden is, where any alleged suitcase bombs have no doubt originated from, where there are real nukes “this close” to aggressive Muslim radicals). These sorts of matters were handled for decades (centuries?) as intelligence matters and as diplomatic/cultural matters. The “war” on terrorism is a war on a method, which is obtuse and odd when you think about it. These are threats better handled by viciously laser-like targeted special ops actions, by intelligence activities, rather than by letting our military columns get chewed up in some un-involved country’s civil strife.

    And I also am very skeptical of the accuracy, or value, of the term islamofascist – no disrespect to this blog. To sully all of Islam with that sort of name is not so fair or kind to the 95% of global muslims who aren’t the least interested in terrorism, whatever the imperfections of the Koran or the muslim religion (yikes, try reading the old testament bloody tales sometime!! ;-). Also, fascism, as I understand it, in its true sense is based on a compact, or at least very close cooperation between the state and corporations, could almost be called corporatism, a la Mr. Mussolini. Hard to see what that has to do with fundamentalist theocrats who want cultural rule, or with their fringe groups who use terrorism against superior militaries that dominate their countries.

    Anyway, that’s enough on all that. I think we should use all of our resources to track al queda and esp Bin Laden, to diplomatically and economically confront countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and try to isolate the fringe terrorists by truly attempting to win back the ‘hearts and minds’ of the rest of the avg middle east ‘regular people’. they’re not aliens from outer space, they can be bought off like anyone else. Plus spend our dwindling military resources to truly secure our ports, rapid transit, etc. Finally, the best of all would be my wish that we would have a “manhattan project” for energy inventions and independence in the U.S., no only would it make our interest / dependence / troubles in the middle east fade, but it would create a mighty economic engine as we dominate energy and related techologies for decades. Why not us ? 😉

  2. TruthJustice Says:

    The above sounds like John Kerry’s talking points. Hence I am skeptical of it. To say we are not in a ‘war’ is to deny the existence of an enemy. What of the 93 WTC bombing, the US Cole, the embassy bombings in Africa, and 9/11?. More people died on that day than at Pearl Harbor.

    The fact that the term ‘war on terrorism’ is vague is the specific reason why the term Islamo-fascist or Radical Islam is so important. It points out the existence of a worldwide phenomenon–in the mosques of Holland, the media of Lebanon, and the madrassas of Pakistan. Yes, it’s a war on something, not a method, but an ideology of hate. Of course, not all Muslims, but specifically, this form of fascism is perpetuated by people who say they are practicing Islam.

    In a different world and with a deterrable enemy, the presence of such “Batman personalities”, as you call them, would be annoying but not life threatening. However, in a world of mass transportation, barely detectable bomb materials, and weapons of mass destruction, these maniacs are a risk to every Western society.

    Given an enemy willing to immolate himself and completely unconcerned with civilian casualties, in fact seeking to accumulate them, how can you not be concerned as this enemy continues to plot, and plan, and act in multiple locations around the world?

    I think that disagreement with specific tactics or locations where we fight the war against Islamo-fascism is quite reasonable, but ignoring a world-wide phenomenon that represents a clear and growing threat is blindness or naivete of a most dangerous sort.

  3. CS Says:

    SH’s line of thinking is precisely what Ed Koch is talking about. If Iraq is a civil war, then why are Americans being targeted? If there is no connection between terrorism and Iraq, then just who is it Iraq that we are fighting a war against? If there is zero threat to the existance of the United States of America, then what does the pursuit of nuclear weapons and threats to destroy America and Israel represent? If there is zero threat to the existance of Western Civilization, then what is the true meaning of public declarations to create an Islamic nation from Spain to the Far East? What does energy indepence have to do with all this? You think that if we did not buy oil from the mid-east, their philiosphy or ability to destroy us with nukes and terrosism would change?

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