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To Defeat the Taliban, We Must Defeat the Ideology

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By Lt. Col. Allen West, USA (Ret.)
Accuracy in Media

Just last week the Taliban executed a horrific well-coordinated attack against a restaurant in Kabul often frequented by westerners. It was not a location where any Afghan or Coalition military personnel gave patronage but rather expatriates and UN civilian workers. In a classic military attack, first the homicide bomber detonated to the front of the establishment. That initial diversionary strike was followed by armed gunmen who entered from the rear and shot the patrons at point blank range, including the owner. All said and done, 21 people lost their lives in this horrific attack, three of them American.

“With this despicable, targeted attack on innocent civilians, terrorists continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for life and for the peaceful, prosperous future Afghans want and are working so hard to achieve,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Contrast that statement to the words in an Atlantic Monthly review of the film, “Lone Survivor.” In the review, the writer was concerned with the portrayal of the Taliban and expressed a desire to see a more “fair introduction.”

In this ongoing war on Islamic totalitarianism, a war on terror is far too limiting, because we in the West have done such a poor job of winning the propaganda war. If only the liberal progressive media — so adept at targeting conservative opponents — would do the same with our true enemies. Unfortunately that would require a level of courage I don’t believe they possess. It’s far easier to attack Governor Chris Christie over traffic lanes being closed, than to define Islamic terrorists. It’s more attractive to allow a government agency to attack and intimidate Americans for their beliefs in constitutional governance — and dismiss it as a “phony scandal.”

The liberal press has done an outstanding job in politicizing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consider how many front page stories made the venerable New York Times on Abu Ghraib and the constant reminder of loss of life in the Iraq combat theater of operations during the Bush administration.

This despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of all deaths and casualties in Afghanistan have occurred under the Obama administration — of which you’ve heard very little. Even now, the resurgence of al-Qaida in Iraq in the Anbar Province cities of Fallujah and Ramadi receives very little attention from the progressive media. Imagine if this were happening under a Republican administration.

Why? Why is it impossible for our so-called “mainstream media” to be objective and support our efforts against this vile, committed enemy?

At the US Army Command and Staff College, I was taught the four elements of national power in the D-I-M-E theory: Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic. Those four elements together enable a nation to be strong. Sadly, our information element often conspires to work against national objectives, as they deem fit. Over the years, where have the stories been about the exploits of the Taliban and their heinous assaults upon civilians?

During my two-and-a-half years in Afghanistan, there were countless reports of the Taliban attacking girls who just wanted one thing; the opportunity to get an education. Acid was thrown on them. There were drive-by shootings. I recall an incident in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban went to the home of a school headmaster and beheaded him while his family watched.

The world missed an incredible opportunity to highlight the Taliban’s cruelty when Malala Yousafzai was not awarded the Nobel Prize. And the liberal media magazine, Time, blew the chance to expose the real “war on women” when it did not recognize young Malala as its “Person of the Year.” It would have been an excellent opportunity to drive home the fact of who the Taliban is.

Alas, we struggle with this idea of cultural relativity and fail to see the danger of this enemy. If liberals are so concerned with women’s rights, why not hammer a group that wishes to return civilization to a seventh century existence? What would that mean for the worldwide movement towards freedom and liberty for women?

Our men and women on the ground will always deliver tactical victory, but what we lack is the clear strategic information operation to destroy the enemy. It is amazing that the Left utilizes the Saul Alinsky-model of demonizing the enemy so efficiently — but only for their socialist ideological adversary, conservatism. The Left obviously has a penchant for Islamic totalitarianism. They had best soon realize they themselves are only, as Vladimir Lenin coined, “useful idiots”, enabling their own demise.

The end of the year is supposed to bring about our withdrawal from Afghanistan. History has taught us what happened when the Taliban had control, and it certainly was not about “coexistence.” There is good and evil in the world. Killing Osama bin Laden resulted in the death of one evil person, but not the evil ideology.

Our brave warriors will kill the fighters, but we must kill the movement, the ideology, the totalitarian theocratic-political belief system that has been the scourge of the world since the seventh century.