Victory conditions in the war
Tigerhawk, guest-blogging at the Belmont Club, writes about broad strategy and justification for the war against Al Qaeda. Just as communism lost support when it was discredited, Islamic fascism must also be discredited.
Where al Qaeda flourishes, it is able to cajole and coerce the local population -- the Average Abdul -- into cooperating. This creates a local base from which it can "vex and exhaust" the apostate regime.For this reason, it is important to global security that the Middle East become democratic.
We need Average Abdul to stop cooperating with al Qaeda and to start turning in the jihadis in the back of the mosque. Unfortunately, he won't turn in the jihadis because he is more afraid of them than the local regime and he will not bear any risk to defend the clown regime. The jihadis will kill him and his family for blowing the whistle, but the clown regime will neither punish him for keeping silent or induce him to fight the jihadis out of patriotism. Average Abdul, simply put, is unwilling to risk his life for the clown regime, which has not earned his devotion, even for money.
Average Abdul will, however, risk his life for an idea, just as al Qaeda's jihadis do. Once, that idea was pan-Arabism, or Communism. Today, both are discredited. "Moderate Islam," whatever that means in a dusty town in Syria, Jordan or Egypt, obviously does not have the fire to motivate Abdul to risk his life to fight the Islamists. The only idea with the juice to do the job is popular sovereignty. Democracy. This is the realist case for the Bush administration's "democratization strategy" (although it is not entirely clear how many people inside the Bush administration understand the realist case for their most important strategy).
The jihadis understand this, and fight against democracy in the Arab world with everything they've got, even if it costs them their Ba'athist allies.