The only way some form of quiet will ever exist in the Middle East is if Israel is given the latitude to totally defeat its declared enemies. Only then will the terrorist attacks on Israel’s civilians come to an end. Perpetual negotiations, diplomatic half measures, or land for peace deals will not bring peace to the Middle East. For those who believe this is an irresponsible notion, I use history as my guide.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor, in which 2,500 Americans were killed. There are lessons to be learned from our victory in that war.
In his April 16, 1945 address before a Joint Session of Congress, President Harry Truman stated: “So there can be no possible misunderstanding, both Germany and Japan can be certain, beyond any shadow of doubt, that America will continue the fight for freedom until no vestige of resistance remains. We are deeply conscious of the fact that much hard fighting is still ahead of us. Having to pay such a heavy price to make complete victory certain, America will never become a party to any plan for partial victory. To settle for merely another temporary respite would surely jeopardize the future security of the world. Our demand has been, and it remains, unconditional surrender.”
On August 6, 1945, just 16-hours after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Truman issued a statement which said, in part: “The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. … We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake: we shall completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.”
Truman understood that there could be no peace without total victory. This lesson has not been lost on President George Bush. On September 20, 2001, Bush also addressed a Joint Session of Congress and announced America’s policy – “the Bush Doctrine” – in responding to the atrocities of September 11. He stated: ” … Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
Bush stated further: ” … We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
Since September 11, Bush has refused all offers by the Taliban regime to negotiate any settlement of the war – including the status of Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants in the al Qaeda terrorist network – short of outright surrender. As Bush once eloquently put it: bin Laden is “wanted, dead or alive.” And for over two months, the U.S. has been systematically bombing the Taliban and al Qaeda day and night. Already, the Bush administration is planning the next phase of the war, which may involve U.S. military action in Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere.
So, in the two most recent examples of the U.S. being attacked on its own territory, America’s predicate for peace has been the total annihilation of its enemies. And there is every reason to expect Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to have learned the same lesson.
Since 1948, Israel has been forced to fight 4 wars with the hostile nations surrounding her. Despite defeating her enemies on the battlefield, the international community has never permitted Israel to completely destroy any of these regimes – none of which are democracies. They’ve always been left largely in tact, free to start or support another war, including the current terrorist war now being waged against Israel’s citizens. And between wars, Israel’s enemies have convinced the world, including the U.S., that her borders and security are not only legitimate subjects of constant negotiations, but that Israel’s refusal to accept most, if not all, of her enemies’ demands is an obstacle to peace.
This week Hamas and other terrorist groups – which, like certain of the countries that surround Israel, seek the destruction of Israel, not co- existence or even the establishment of a Palestinian state – intensified their war against the Jewish state by unleashing 5 fanatic suicide bombers against innocent civilians, mostly children. The result: hundreds of casualties, including 26 dead. In the past 14 months, more than 230 Israelis have been killed – the proportional equivalent to the U.S. losing some 11,000 people.
In addition to Hamas, which receives support from Palestinian expatriates, wealthy Saudi Arabians, and Iran, Israel is under attack from, among others, Hizballah, which is supported by Syria and Iran, and Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran, Sudan and militant Islamic groups.
On December 4, in an address to his nation, Sharon stated: ” … A war has been forced upon us. A war of terror. A war that claims innocent victims daily. A war of terror being conducted systematically, in an organized fashion, and with methodical direction. … We will pursue those responsible, the perpetrators of terrorism and the supporters. We will pursue them until we catch them, and they will pay a price.”
Ironically, the major obstacle to Sharon implementing the Bush Doctrine has been U.S. Middle East policy. When attacked by terrorists, Israel has been urged to show “restraint,” to make more negotiated concessions and even accept the creation of a hostile Palestinian state on its border. This week’s carnage appears to have caused some positive change in America’s rhetoric and position. The president has now pointed the finger of responsibility directly at Yassar Arafat for ending the terrorism committed by his people. But accomplishing peace requires more – much more.
Truman was right to insist that peace would only be realized after the “obliteration” of the Japanese war machine, just as Bush is right about “defeating” the Taliban, al Qaeda and other terrorist networks. It is, therefore, necessary that in the pursuit of real and lasting peace, Israel also be free to destroy its enemies – meaning the terrorists and, yes, their sponsors, who are at war with her, and that she do so before they obtain devastating weapons of mass destruction.