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HomeForeign PolicyDi Leo: Foreign Policy Errors, from May to September

Di Leo: Foreign Policy Errors, from May to September



Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 11.30.29 AM
New York Times photo 

By John F Di Leo - 

On September 11, 2001, four groups of terrorists, associated with Al Qaeda, hijacked domestic airplanes with the intention of crash-landing into four key symbols of the United States, both public and private landmarks.  While a patriotic group of passengers in the fourth plane foiled one of the four plans, by the time it was all over, 3000 innocent people in New York and Washington had been murdered, and billions of dollars in property were destroyed.

The islamofascist movement – call it what you will: muslim terrorists, Islamic extremists, jihadists, Satanists, whatever – jumped for joy around the globe.  Those of us old enough to remember that awful day will never forget the news coverage, as it showed crowds cheering in much of the middle east, in celebration that “their side” had landed a successful sucker punch on the United States of America.

The world would be plunged into recession immediately. These crowds and their own countries suffered too, in this worldwide recession, but they didn’t care.  The big deal for them was that “their side” had scored a blow on the West.

America Responds

The United States took action immediately. For once, there was some degree of national unity and understanding, as America’s past tolerance of lesser attacks was suddenly proven to be the virtual encouragement that the terrorists wanted.  We never really responded to attacks on the USS Cole and the first World Trade Center bombing… such attacks hadn’t been as successful as planned, so America chose to let them go unanswered.  Perhaps we hoped that if we didn’t acknowledge them, they’d go away.

But this time, after September 11, 2001, America fought back, hard.  Upon identifying the responsible parties – an Al Qaeda group that had been based in the lawless, Taliban-ruled third-world failed state of Afghanistan – the United States did the only thing we could: we attacked the host nation of these enemies.

Military historians will debate our handling of that war forever.  Our effort to go beyond punishment and attempt to impose some semblance of western republican government on a nation that had no frame of reference for it was doomed from the start.  Should we have stayed a month, a year, five years?  Should we have trusted different people, trusted no one at all?

We can never know for certain what the best approach and best outcome would have been.  All we can agree on is that this twenty-year effort cannot be called a success.  The Taliban remains in control today, and when we finally leave, that control is sure to be consolidated, causing ever more pain and suffering to the innocents who remain, because that’s just what they do; it’s who they are.

In the spring of 2020, President Donald Trump planned out a year-long exit plan, with a commitment to pull out our last troops by the end of April, 2021. At that point, of course, he expected to still be in charge.  He planned to keep this commitment – an imperfect exit to an imperfect experiment, but at least, in the end, an exit.

A Needless Postponement

This week, the Biden/Harris regime is announcing a change to this exit plan.  They are not announcing that they’re staying… not declaring some new partnership or new plan… just staying a few more months.

This is of a piece with the way that this regime has handled so many other issues since their installation on January 20.  They have reversed Trump administration policies, again and again, not for good reasons, not with organized replacement plans, just for the sake of making a change.

The Trump administration honored the Hyde Amendment? Then reverse it.  The Trump administration extended the border wall?  Then halt construction; throw down your tools and go home.  The Trump administration authorized a fuel pipeline from Canada?  Fire the workers, abandon your equipment and parts where they lie.

Perhaps biggest of all was the wonderful foreign policy achievement known as the Abraham Accords, in which the Trump administration engineered peace treaties between Israel and Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.  The Biden/Harris regime immediately started in chipping away at these agreements, pausing commitments to supply foreign aid and arms sales that were to be lynchpins to a new Arab-Israeli alliance against the terrorist rogue states like Iran. 

One of the most fundamental rules in politics is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  The Biden/Harris regime never learned that rule.

So here too, with Afghanistan, we have a problem that had a planned solution.  If not a cure, at least an exit in place.  One can argue that we should not have stayed 20 years in the first place; perhaps one can argue that we should change our tack and stay another twenty years… but there is certainly no possible argument that we should stay another four months.

But that exit plan was arranged by President Trump, and for that reason alone, the Biden/Harris regime was not going to let it go forward as planned.

They will wait four more months, then leave in the fall.  Instead of leaving in waves, with a vague end time of “late April,”  the Biden/Harris plan is to depart by September 11, 2021.

Anniversaries and Cultures

Dates mean things.  That much is universal.  But the ways different cultures deal with dates can be very different indeed.

We Westerners have a way of celebrating anniversaries. We celebrate private anniversaries with dinners and parties; we commemorate public anniversaries with joyous public celebrations.  Veterans Day and Memorial Day have bank holidays and somber speeches;  Columbus Day and Independence Day have parades, fireworks, town socials.

This is not shared in the world of our enemies in the War on Terror.  Remember the crowds cheering in the streets across the arab world?  This is a culture where it is not uncommon for people to fire rifles – even machine guns –  into the air on public holidays, election days, even weddings, totally disregarding the fact that there will be innocent people below when those bullets come back to earth.

There is something that perhaps the Biden/Harris regime doesn’t know about history, and about this particular date, September 11.  There is a theory in the Islamic community that anything that has once been islamic (“part of the caliphate,” they might say) is forever islamic, and it is therefore a noble goal to restore it, to retake it.  We normally think of this in terms of land, but it applies to other things too, including dates.

September 11, coincidentally, happened to be an important date in several prior conflicts between the caliphate and the West:

  • The Siege of Malta was concluded with a victory by the Knights Hospitaller, on September 11, 1565, essentially driving the Ottoman Empire out of the strategically important island of Malta.
  • From September 11 to 12, 1683, the Holy League, primarily commanded by King John Sobieski of Poland and Lithuania, defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Vienna.
  • And  the Holy League again faced off against the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta, as Prince Eugene of Savoy’s coalition defeated Sultan Mustafa II on September 11, 1697.

There can be no doubt that one of the reasons that Osama Bin Ladin and his lieutenants chose September 11 was to somehow establish this date as a successful one for islam, rather than as a reminder of many past defeats.

Since 2001, in fact, we have seen many celebrations throughout the Islamic world, where the jihadist philosophy holds sway, most famously in 2012, when the American embassy outpost at Benghazi, Libya was attacked, its building burned, its staff viciously murdered.

We already plan to leave Afghanistan.  But why do so on September 11? Why on earth would we hand our enemies such a plum, when we know exactly how they will celebrate it?

It doesn’t take a military strategist, a historian, or a fortune teller to predict how they will behave on September 11, as they watch our last plane fly away, proverbial tail between our legs, doing everything we can to enable them to claim it as their own victory.   They will be able to say they drove America out of Afghanistan, after twenty years… and on a day doubly special to them.

Why give them such a PR gift? How can an American government be so blind to the optics, the PR of it all?

There is another basic rule in politics – another one that this regime never learned:  “Know your enemy.”

No one who understands the foe we face – who recognizes it for the enemy it is –  would ever give the islamofascists a victory on September 11, 2021.

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer and transportation professional, writer and actor. A former chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party and the Ethnic American Council, his columns have been published in Illinois Review for 12 years now.  A collection of his Illinois Review columns on vote fraud, The Tales of Little Pavel, can be found in paperback or eBook on Amazon.

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