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Tuesday, February 14, 2006


The Pentagon's vision for the "Long War."
Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for U.S. Central Command (which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East), dropped by the offices of The Wall Street Journal recently. He noted that bin Ladenism has deep roots in many Islamic countries and that bin Laden isn't the only terrorist leader trying to appeal to populations oppressed by dictators. There are some 18 terrorist organizations that are part of what the military calls al Qaeda and Affiliated Movement. The military, he said, even has an acronym for it: AQAM.

To counter bin Ladenism, the military is planning a two-stage war. The first is being fought in open battles in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and looks a lot like the kind of war most Americans assumed we'd wage on al Qaeda and terror-sponsoring states after the Sept. 11 attacks. The second stage is what senior military planners--including Mr. Rumsfeld--call "the Long War." It involves countering one set of ideas with another.

It is this stage of the war that President Bush, Mr. Rumsfeld and other members of the administration worry isn't well understood by most Americans and therefore is in danger of being lost after Mr. Bush leaves office.
...
The military is laying the groundwork in other countries as well, in hopes of turning indigenous populations away from bin Ladenism. One area that has largely escaped media attention is the Horn of Africa, and in particular the small country of Djibouti. Bordering Somalia to the north, Ethiopia to the east and directly across the Red Sea from Yemen, Djibouti has an impoverished population that may find terrorism appealing if it promises the glory involved in helping build a grand Islamic state. And Djibouti historically has served as a passageway for trade into the heart of Africa. Shortly after 9/11 the U.S. set up a base of operations in Djibouti to help stabilize the region and build schools as well as infrastructure. At one point nearly 2,000 Marines were on the ground there. Military officials tell me Djibouti is a success story that hasn't made it into the news because U.S. soldiers aren't getting killed there.

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