Having lately seen reports of various expert opinions on what we should or should not be doing in the Middle East, it occurs to me that if these are the best that the experts can come up with, it may be time for the amateurs to lend a hand. I have therefore volunteered to breathe a little common sense into what appear to me to be suggestions based upon a misreading of the underlying problem.

In order to reasonably determine what the primary aim of our Middle East policy should be, I think it would behoove us first to set out clearly what the primary aim should not be:
1. It should not be to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East,
2. It should not be to protect civilian lives in Iraq,
3. It should not be to prevent a civil war among the various Iraqi ethnic and religious groups,
4. It should not be to build a viable economy in Iraq,
5. It should not be to protect American military personnel,
6. It should not be the elimination of any particular enemy operative (e.g., Osama Bin Laden).
All of these aims are laudable, and should be considered desirable and worthy of our effort so long as, and only so long as, they do not interfere with our primary aim.

The primary aim of our Middle East policy should be the protection of the United States of America! This primary aim may be broken into several distinct tasks:
1. The protection of the U.S. homeland and its infrastructure,
2. The protection of U.S. citizens at home and abroad,
3. The protection of U.S. strategic political interests world wide,
4. The protection of those U.S. commercial interests not already included in numbers 1 through 3, above.

Having thus determined what the primary aim of our Middle East policy ought to be, and having enumerated the necessary tasks, we come now to the thorny question of what specific action must be taken in order to accomplish these tasks and meet our ultimate goal of protecting the United States. Unfortunately, there is only one effective tactical method of protecting the U.S from militant Islamic fundamentalism, and that is the utter annihilation of militant Islamic fundamentalism. The ultimate issue then becomes: How do we annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism?

It might be helpful to consider this question in light of some of the lately published expert suggestions for formulating a new Middle East policy:
1. Can we annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism by negotiating with the Islamic Republic of Iran?
2. Can we annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism by negotiating with Syria, who hopes someday soon to absorb Lebanon and a large chunk of Israel, and who is, at least for the moment, a client state of Iran?
3. Can we annihilate radical Islamic fundamentalism by withdrawing from Iraq?
4. Can we annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism by lessening or withdrawing our support of Israel?
5. Can we depend upon Muslim countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or even Turkey to annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism for us?
6. Can we annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism by negotiating directly with its leaders?
7. Can we depend upon the United Nations to annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism for us?

Before continuing, it might be helpful to consider the question of whether or not we might be able to provide for the protection of the United States without the annihilation of militant Islamic fundamentalism. There seem to be a great number of influential people who think that the answer to that question is yes. How else can one explain the endless parade of experts calling for a negotiated settlement to the Iraq war, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and a more “even-handed” approach to the Arab-Israeli problem? In order to accept their suggestions you must first accept the premise that religious fanaticism can be negotiated out of a religious fanatic, that a sociopathic career criminal can be talked out of a life of crime in exchange for employment in a factory, and/or that a lifelong Bolshevik can be convinced that his neighbor has a right to coveted property. Where will we get the savior with those negotiating skills?

Militant Islamic fundamentalism considers it to be God’s will that a new Caliphate be established which will include Europe and the United States, and, eventually, the entire earth united in constant praise of Allah and governed by Sharia law. Militant Islamic fundamentalism considers the establishment of that Caliphate - a goal that has been set by God himself - to be the primary duty of every Muslim; a duty not to be abandoned even in the face of death. When a man sets himself across my path and announces that I must either accept his terms now or eventually, but accept them I must if I am to live, I see no way past that man while he lives. This is what apparently separates me from the above mentioned experts. I believe that if we are not willing to accept the world wide Caliphate, either now or later, then we must utterly annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism. Can it be done? Do you see any radical Emperor-worshiping militarist Japanese hordes these days? Do you see any National Socialists marching across Europe? Of course it can be done. The only question is whether or not we have the will to do it. Perhaps Sharia law wouldn’t be all that bad? It would certainly clean up the entertainment industry. Think about that.

Having satisfied myself, if not the peace-at-any-price crowd, that militant Islamic fundamentalism must be annihilated; I proceed now to the 7 questions posed above. Numbers 1 and 2 must be answered with an emphatic no. Negotiating the annihilation of militant Islamic fundamentalism with Iran is akin to negotiating the existence of the Deity with Richard Dawkins. If anyone can produce an affidavit signed by Professor Dawkins acknowledging the existence of God and accepting Genesis as historical fact, I will be among the very first to chip in on a ticket for that person to Tehran and a huge salary as U.S. Negotiator in Chief. If Dawkins won’t budge, I would be willing to accept an affidavit from the Pope denying the existence of God. As for negotiating with Syria, as long as there is profit in supporting Islamic fundamentalism, Syria will support Islamic fundamentalism. Lest you think we could outbid the fundamentalists, consider the oil money available to support the fundamentalist cause and the history of assassination of Arab leaders who do not support the cause.

The answer to number 3 should be rather obvious. Withdrawal from Iraq can do nothing but embolden the militant Islamic fundamentalists. Their immediate goal is to get us out of the Middle East. Getting us out of Iraq would be a good start, allowing them to establish there a base for the Caliphate, and emboldening them to concentrate on getting us out of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, eliminating Israel, and then moving on to the ultimate goal of remaking us in their own image as the Islamic States of America.

Number 4 is the first suggestion that might offer some hope for a temporary U.S. advantage. Following Churchill’s alligator simile, if we feed Israel to the militant Islamic fundamentalists, and then watch them nibble up Europe, they will probably eat us last. I, for one, however, am not interested in being eaten first, last, or at any time in between.

Number 5 asks if we might not depend on someone else to get rid of the militant Islamic fundamentalists for us. I am certain that Egypt would like nothing better than to get rid of them, but so far it has been unable to get rid of them within its own borders, and may very well be only one assassin’s bullet away from joining them. Turkey is a secular state and the most democratic state in the Muslim world. Stamping out militant Islamic fundamentalism would strengthen the state and, in the event that it could be done without violating anyone’s “human rights,” would probably help its entry into the European Union. While the fundamentalist problem in Turkey is not as serious as in Egypt, eradicating it is a near term impossibility and attempting to eradicate it would probably result in strengthening the militants. If eradication of fundamentalism within its borders is highly unlikely for Turkey, eradication outside those borders is a patent impossibility. Iraq may or may not wish to eradicate militant Islamic fundamentalism. Its thoughts on the matter are immaterial however, as it is demonstrably incapable of eradicating the fundamentalists. Iran may contain dissidents interested in the eradication of fundamentalism, but the government is obviously not interested in eradicating itself. As for Saudi Arabia, it was the incubator of militant Islamic fundamentalism. It is quite possible that those in charge of the government have realized their mistake and would like to get rid of their creation, but the fact is that they have a tiger by the tail and are justifiably afraid to let go.

Number 6 asks whether we can negotiate directly with the leaders of the terror networks. If we are interested in negotiating our surrender and the eventual establishment of the Islamic States of America, the answer is yes. See Churchill’s alligator, above. If we want to negotiate the end of militant Islamic fundamentalism, the answer is a resounding no. See Richard Dawkins and the Pope, above.

As for number 7, a cursory examination of the recent history of the United Nations would not lend much encouragement to a reliance on assistance from that quarter.

We have now discussed various attractive courses of action which will not lead to the annihilation of militant Islamic fundamentalism. What course of action will lead to the accomplishment of that goal? First we must get over the magnanimous urge to allow our enemies to save face when they are defeated. How many times have Israel’s neighbors been allowed to quit fighting when it was obvious that they would lose? What has been the result of that course of action? Arab disappointment has been morphed into an Islamic holy war quest. We must make it clear to our enemies that we will do whatever is necessary to inflict a disgraceful and humiliating defeat upon them and upon anyone who espouses their cause. The tactics used can be different in the various countries which harbor militant Islamic fundamentalists, but in each country we must do whatever is necessary.

In Iraq, we must communicate directly with the people of Iraq without passing our message through the sometimes unreliable filter of the faction-torn Iraqi government. I would suggest a televised personal message from our President to the Iraqi people, using the technique of consecutive, rather than simultaneous, interpretation in order to let the viewers hear the tone of the original. The interpreter should be an impressive looking uniformed General Officer of the United States Army or Marine Corps, preferably one responsible for military operations in Iraq. The best of all possible interpreters would be the senior U.S. tactical commander in Iraq (assuming he can speak Arabic). It would be perfect if he looked and sounded like Charlton Heston. The message must be got through to the Iraqi people that we mean business.

The purpose of this message to the Iraqi people would be to insure that everyone clearly understands what our ultimate goal is and what we are willing to do to achieve it. It must be pointed out to the Sunni that civil war is not in their interest. They are a minority and would surely come off second (or perhaps third) best in any civil war. It is therefore to their advantage to report any observed insurgent activity to the U.S. Armed Forces. Elimination of the insurgency is in their interest. It is not an absolute necessity for the United States. It should be pointed out to the Shia that civil war might lead to their dominance in Iraq, but would probably result in the loss of the Kurdish portion of the country and that Iran would surely demand a great deal in return for its financing of their war effort. As Arabs, it might not be in their long term interest to become a client state of the Persians. Additionally, this is an alliance which the United States cannot and will not allow to exist. Therefore, it is in the long term interest of the Shia to report any antigovernment activity directly to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Both the Sunni and the Shia must be made aware that civil war would be a disaster for Iraq, but would not necessarily harm the United States. If the Sunni and Shia are determined to kill one another, the U.S. Forces can simply withdraw to the Kurdish area and to the border with Iran in order to seal off the combatants until they have exhausted themselves, and then move in to mop up the remnants. One day when I was a young Second Mate in a cargo ship in the Far East I was talking to the Captain outside the officers’ saloon when a fight broke out between two crew members at the bottom of a nearby ladder. As I was on watch I started down the ladder to intervene. The Captain inquired as to where I thought I was going. I told him I was going to try to break up the fight. He called me back and told me to wait a while. He said that if I went down there then I would probably have reason to regret it. He said that I should wait until they had landed a few blows and were looking for some excuse to quit. I took his advice and stopped the fight without incurring any bruising of my person. It is advice I have never forgotten; and, if all else fails, it is advice that could very well be of use to the United States in Iraq. The Iraqi people must be made to realize that we will do whatever is necessary to win, and whether they win with us or lose is a matter of their choice; is a matter which should be of very great importance to them, and is of very little concern to us.

In Iran we must do all we can to support dissident political groups. We should not, however, encourage their armed insurrection unless and until we are prepared to support them if necessary with armed intervention. We must beam powerful radio signals and satellite television signals into Iran and into all other Muslim countries designed to spread the message of democracy and western philosophy as a counter to the militant fundamentalism the people are being fed in their mosques. We should also do nothing to discourage the broadcast of western religious programming into Muslim countries. Until the officially sanctioned Islamic religious monopoly is broken, militant Islamic fundamentalism cannot be finally defeated. Eventual religious freedom in Muslim countries is a requirement for a peaceful world. As an added bonus the immediate threat of eventual loss of that monopoly will cause a great many moderate mullahs to think about what they are going to lose because of the militant fundamentalists. That should encourage them to begin to distance themselves from the militants.

Finally, the U.S. should make it clear that Israel is going to continue to exist and that it is not going to be asked go give up any more land, period. Additionally, if Israel is attacked again, there will be no cease fire until the war has been won or lost. Israel should make it clear to its neighbors that if attacked it will carry the war to the enemy capitals and will not stop until the opposing armed forces have been utterly destroyed and the enemy governments have fallen. Further, Israel should make it clear that it does not intend to be an occupying power. Any conquered territory which it considers necessary for its future defense will be annexed and the Arab population moved out. All other conquered territory will be left to its own devices. If the vanquished people descend into barbarism, they descend into barbarism; if they starve to death, they starve to death. In spite of international norms to the contrary, Israel, if attacked will not be responsible for the civil administration of any conquered territory. If any international organization feels the need to fill the gap they are welcome to do so. If not, perhaps the experience will teach the enemy population that they should be careful in choosing future leaders.

If religious freedom is not introduced into Muslim countries, militant Islamic fundamentalism will never be completely wiped out and the west will forever have to contend with some level of terrorist activity. If we are not going to annihilate militant Islamic fundamentalism, then we must be prepared to go on doing what we are now doing in Iraq. We must be prepared to go on doing it for a very long time. In spite of all of the hand wringing over our Iraqi adventure, our effort there has provided a very important service to the United States. It has acted as a magnet for the militant fundamentalists. It may be creating new ones, but it is also concentrating them in our sights. It is better to have ten thousand of them in Iraq than to have five thousand spread out all over the world. It only takes one man to make and set a bomb.