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Successes and Setbacks in the "Long War" - The Ornery American

Successes and Setbacks in the "Long War"
By David M. Huntwork February 9, 2007

A year ago the Pentagon released its Quadrennial Defense Review. It was essentially a strategy for a 20-year "long war" and a generational battle plan designed to prepare the military for a Cold War type struggle against the forces of militant Islam. According to the official unveiling:

"Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, our nation has fought a global war against violent extremists who use terrorism as their weapon of choice, and who seek to destroy our free way of life. Our enemies seek weapons of mass destruction and, if they are successful, will likely attempt to use them in their conflict with free people everywhere. Currently, the struggle is centered in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we will need to be prepared and arranged to successfully defend our nation and its interests around the globe for years to come."

It is apparent that the United States and its assorted allies are still seeking to adequately define its enemy, reach a consensus on tactics, and achieve some sort of victory in (or graceful exit from) Iraq. In this age of round the clock news and information it is easy to get caught up in the crisis of the moment. But it is also important that we examine the big picture in the War on Terror and take the time to look back at some of the successes and setbacks experienced since 9-11.



President George Bush addressed the War on Terror in his 2007 State of the Union Speech:

"A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shi'ia Islam - the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shi'ia - and it succeeded. Radical Shi'ia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day."

Portions of the War on Terror have been pursued brilliantly while others have been poorly implemented with disappointing results. The dynamics are fluid and the unconventionality of the war has resulted in unexpected and unforeseen setbacks. It is a conflict where adaptability is a constant necessity and a long term vision and sense of context is essential.

The citizens of the United States and their allies around the globe must realize that they are engaged in a "Long War" for which there are no easy answers or quick victories. The battles and foes they face differ from conflict to conflict and from region to region. Perseverance, understanding and patience will be just as important as military and political victories in this struggle. It is imperative to not forget the dramatic successes that the West has accomplished, and to remember and learn from the setbacks that it has experienced. We are still at the beginning of this war, not the end, and the strategies, successes and setbacks we face in the future will be shaped and determined by what we have both achieved, and failed to achieve, in the past.

David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado, where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. You may view his bio and past columns at

Copyright © 2007 by David M. Huntwork

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