Fighting to Win

Genghis Khan was perhaps the most successful warrior the world has ever known. During the 13th century, he conquered most of civilization with an army of less than 100,000 Mongol horsemen. According to Genghis’ biographer, Jack Weatherford, the warlord’s philosophy went this way: “Warfare was not a sporting contest or a mere match between rivals; it was a total commitment of one people against another. Victory did not come to the one who played by the rules; it came to one who made the rules and imposed them on his enemy.”

Osama Bin Laden is unquestionably one of history’s greatest villains, a man who has ordered the deaths of thousands of civilians to fulfill a perverted vision of religious thought. Does anyone doubt that, if given the chance, Bin Laden would commit mass murder by using a nuclear device or a chemical weapon to annihilate as many people as possible? Would any rational person dispute that?

The answer, of course, is no. Bin Laden wants to kill as many “infidels” as he can. And so America is locked in a war against this maniac and thousands of terrorists who agree with his philosophy.

But is America fighting that war the way Genghis Khan would fight it? The question is almost absurd because the answer is so clear: not a chance. This country has nothing close to a “total commitment” in defeating terrorism. We are divided on tactics as well as ethics, and the terrorists know it.

Writing in The New York Times, Elizabeth Alexander, the Director of the National Prison Project for the ACLU, puts forth: “The Pentagon-approved interrogation techniques that deprive prisoners of sleep and force them to stand in stress positions for extended periods are both disturbing and illegal.

“It is time for the military to unequivocally ban such officially sanctioned abuse of prisoners.”

Make no mistake, the ACLU wants captured terrorists to have the same rights as American criminals do. So sometime in the future it’s very possible that a captured terrorist, who has knowledge of an impending chemical or biological attack, would be interrogated as a bank robber would be. You could not deprive the suspected terrorist of “sleep” nor make him or her unusually uncomfortable.

My questions: Do you think that’s a sane strategy? And do you think the ACLU is looking out for you and your family?

The kind of theoretical nonsense that the ACLU and others are putting out there must be giving Osama and his boys huge laughs. Look, fair-minded Americans are embarrassed by Abu Ghraib and never want anything like that to happen again. We are better than the terrorists. We should never violate human rights in any circumstance.

But a middle ground must be found and fast. The terrorists have no rules, they kill at will. But we, the primary targets, have all kinds of boundaries, many of which put us in danger.

President Bush and Congress should have declared a formal war shortly after September 11th, along with defining new rules of incarceration and interrogation to fit this unique combat situation. U.S. military courts should handle cases of accused terrorism, and harsh interrogation techniques should be approved when there is an “imminent” danger.

A divided America playing by obsolete rules of engagement is not going to win the war against Bin Laden and his mass murderers. We need to wake up and wise up. As Genghis Khan well understood, it is defeat the enemy or die.