ON-Lion Letter

"It is often said that we lack a strategy for defeating our enemies," writes Andrew C. McCarthy in an online article for National Review in late February.  "Actually, we have had a strategy for 14 years, ever since the fleeting moment of clarity right after the 9/11 attacks.

"That strategy is called the Bush Doctrine, and it remains the only one that has any chance of working," McCarthy continues, "at least if we add a small but crucial addendum -- one that should have been obvious enough back in 2001, and that hard lessons of history have now made inescapable."

McCarthy is a senior fellow of the National Review Institute (NRI) in New York City, a contributing editor of National Review, and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports NRI.

"The unadorned Bush Doctrine had two straightforward parts," he explains.  "First, because violent jihadists launch attacks against the United States when they have safe havens from which to plot and train, we must hunt down those terrorists wherever on earth they operate.  Second, the nations of the world must be put to a choice:  You are with us or you are with the terrorists.  Period -- no middle ground.  If you are with the terrorists, you will be regarded, as they are regarded, as an enemy of the United States.

"The Bush Doctrine," according to McCarthy, "is the path to victory -- if we get that one addendum right.

"It is this:  Our enemies are not driven by American foreign policy, our friendship with Israel, our detention of jihadists at Gitmo, or the supposed 'arrogance' our current president likes to apologize for.  Those are all pretexts for aggression.

"The Bush Doctrine was allowed to evolve from an American national-security strategy to an illusion that our national security would be strengthened by promoting a chimera -- sharia democracy," he goes on.  "We put the lives of our best young men and women in harm’s way in the service of a dubious experiment:  that we could build stable Islamic democracies that would be reliable American allies against jihadist terror.

"Understanding Islamic supremacism so we can distinguish allies from those hostile to us will restore the Bush Doctrine," McCarthy concludes.  "And let’s not be cowed by the critics:  Nothing I’ve said means endless war, or that we have to invade or occupy every country.  But it does mean we should be using all our assets -- not just military but intelligence, law-enforcement, financial, and diplomatic -- to undermine regimes that support sharia supremacism.  Cutting off that jihadist life-line is the path to victory -- just as maintaining a strong military that is allowed to show it means business, that is not hamstrung by irresponsible rules of engagement, is the best way to ensure we won’t have to use it too often."

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