Victory: means and end.
I had the good fortune of meeting Codevilla in the fall of 2003 at Princeton University, where I was at the time a lecturer in the Department of Politics, and he had just arrived from Boston University as Visiting Professor of Politics, care of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. The idea for the present symposium on his book No Victory, No Peace originated in his undergraduate course at Princeton, "War and Peace," for which I served as teaching assistant (and, in the spirit of formations permanentes, as overgrown student).1 During that semester, as might be expected, we worked our way through the standard issues of warfare and international relations--soft power, coercive diplomacy, economic statecraft, intelligence, strategy, and all the rest.
But it was the manuscript of No Victory--originally written as a series of essays for Commentary, The American Spectator, and the Claremont Review of Books--that stopped our students in their tracks. It was one thing to read Thucydides, Clausewitz, or Machiavelli in the library, and then sedately to discuss their theoretical or historical claims in a seminar room. It was quite another thing to be confronted with a real-live advocate of a Machiavellian-Clausewitzian approach to war arguing for the application of Clausewitzian principles to current events--and to be obliged to reflect on all of this as the body bags came home on a daily basis from Afghanistan and Iraq.
That unique (if unspeakably tragic) set of circumstances served to focus minds in a way I've rarely encountered in a classroom, or anywhere else for that matter. I sometimes wish I had the power to impose the same circumstances on the whole country, if only to rouse my fellow citizens from the dogmatic slumbers that currently pass for discourse on the subject of war and peace. I don't have that power, of course, but my hope is that this symposium will function as at least a faint approximation of wish-fulfillment.
The symposium consists of three contributions, one of my own, one by "Spengler" of Asia Times, and one by Roderick Long of the Department of Philosophy at Auburn University. My own contribution below begins with a brief synopsis of Codevilla's book, followed by a critique of his account of the enemy and of his conception of victory. The second essay, by Long, draws on Aristotelian and libertarian normative theory to reject Codevilla's basic premises, arguing that his prescriptions, unmoored by moral constraints of any kind, simply go too far. The third essay, by Spengler, agrees with the basic premises of Codevilla's analysis but wonders--drawing on the wartime reflections of William Tecumseh Sherman--whether Codevilla has accurately reckoned the costs of his prescriptions for the present war. Codevilla will respond to the symposium in a future issue of Reason Papers.
In a decade of reading, writing, and teaching about the uses of force in political life, I've rarely encountered a writer quite as intransigently independent in orientation and lucid in formulation as Angelo Codevilla, and No Victory, No Peace is Codevilla in top form. Whether I've agreed or disagreed with him, I've profited from the confrontation with his ideas. I hope you will, too. (2)
1. Codevilla's Argument: The Teleology of War
"Every art and every investigation," writes Aristotle in the famous opening lines of the Nicomachean Ethics, "and similarly every action and pursuit, is considered to aim at some good. Hence the Good has been rightly defined as 'that at which all things aim'." Distinguishing activities and products, he continues:
Since there are many actions, crafts and sciences, the ends turn out to be many as well; for health is the end of medicine, a boat of boat building, victory of generalship, and wealth of household management. (3)
The passing reference to generalship and victory is as easy to miss as it is pregnant with significance. If victory is the end of generalship, and by implication of military science, victory is the aim for the sake of which those activities exist, and the norm that determines the nature of the activity as such. Armies fight, then, for the sake of victory--and no less than that.
It sounds plausible enough, but what, if anything, does it imply for the conduct of warfare? More specifically, what might it imply for the conduct of what we've come, circa 2006, to call "the war on terrorism"?
These questions, and the teleological principle that prompts them, set the agenda of Angelo Codevilla's No Victory, No Peace. Codevilla's basic argument is Aristotelian, indeed drawn from the just-cited passage (p. 89). Since victory is the natural goal of warfare, the issue we face in warfare is conceptually simple but psychologically demanding. We must first decide whether or not to go to war. If we elect to go to war, victory automatically becomes our goal, and we are obliged both to get clear on what the goal requires of us and then to satisfy its requirements. If we find ourselves unclear about its requirements or unwilling to bring it about, then rationality demands that we abjure war altogether. A war that aims at less than full victory is not worth fighting at all. By contrast, a war that aims at victory can be worth fighting even at colossally high cost--as witness the U.S. Civil War or World War II, paradigm examples of justifiable wars fought by the classical conception of victory. The failure to heed the mutually exclusive options we face in warfare--to blur the relevant distinctions, gloss over inconvenient facts, or exaggerate or understate the consequences of action or inaction--is the thin wedge of defeat, and in the worst cases, of catastrophe and annihilation. Warfare, like all meaningful human activities, has a logic we ignore at our peril.
Suppose, then, that we decide to go to war. In that case, having taken on the burdens of victory, we're obliged to identify our enemy and that enemy's center of gravity. The enemy, according to Codevilla, consists of those individuals and institutions whose destruction or subjugation would bring about our preferred peace. In the present case--as in most cases--the enemy is best identified with a "regime," which we might equate with what Ayn Rand calls a "social system": "a set of moral-political-economic principles embodied in a society's laws, institutions, and government, which determine the relationships, the terms of association, among the men living in a given geographical area." (4) An enemy, then, is a social system along with the practitioners of its principles.
In the present "war against terrorism," the enemy, according to Codevilla, consists of a cluster of specifically Arab regimes (pp. 3-7). Contrary to both popular and elite opinion, the enemy is not fundamentally identifiable with "Al Qaeda," or even with "Islamism" or "Islamic fundamentalism." These latter three phenomena are on Codevilla's analysis epiphenomena of Arab anti-Americanism, a phenomenon that has its roots in Nasserite and Ba'ath socialism and Palestinian nationalism. It is our failure to deal with the secular roots of the problem that has given rise to its contemporary religious manifestation.
The preceding analysis yields both evaluative and prescriptive implications. Evaluatively, it implies that Americans and Europeans have for decades systematically misunderstood the right way of dealing with Arab terrorism, and so have enacted self-defeating policies against it. Prescriptively, it implies that we should junk the current administration's approach to fighting the war (as well as the past several administrations') and target the regimes that are our real enemy: directly, those of Iraq, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority; indirectly, that of Saudi Arabia. Since terrorism is fundamentally an instrument of regimes--in this case state-guided regimes--the destruction of the relevant regimes would discredit and demoralize terrorists across the board. Were we to destroy them, we would achieve victory in the classical sense, namely, the restoration of the way of life we enjoyed before the outbreak of hostilities.
There is, in my view, much in Codevilla's analysis with which to agree. There is, first and foremost, the emphasis on victory and on the need for clarity in identifying the purpose of a war as well as the criteria for success in bringing it about. There is also the salutary insistence that we look for the root causes of the problem we face rather than to settle on slogans of either the flag-waving or guilt-inducing variety. There is, finally, the unorthodox and tough-minded critique of many of the problematic features of the current war.
But having expressed this basic agreement with Codevilla, I find myself unpersuaded on two fundamental points. On the one hand, in my view, he misidentifies the enemy we face; on the other hand, he subtly misdescribes the nature of victory. The result is a set of prescriptions for the current war that would, if followed, achieve too little for us at too high a price.
2. Who Is the Enemy?
One of the lessons one learns from Codevilla in this book and elsewhere is that the principles of warfare are timeless and applicable to all wars qua war: the principles that apply to and help us understand the Peloponnesian War will perforce apply to and help us understand the Crusades, the U.S. Civil War, World War II, and so on. (5) If so, Codevilla reasons, our current war should be no different. If in the past terrorism has been an instrument of state-guided regimes, then twenty-first century Islamic terrorism should be the same. Consequently, if terrorism is essentially state-sponsored, we should target the states that sponsor it. If we do that, we win: deprived of the support of states, and specifically Arab states, Islamist terrorists will wither on the vine.
Let's grant that the principles of warfare are timeless, and applicable to all wars as wars. Still, it is perfectly consistent with that--and perfectly possible--that novelty might emerge in a given case. The basic principles of warfare may well apply to all wars, but some features of some wars may differ from most features of previous wars. The current war, after all, is a specific phenomenon in space and time, not a replica of events chronicled in the pages of Thucydides, Livy, Machiavelli, or even Nasser. As Seabury and Codevilla write in their magisterial book War: Ends and Means, "Historical analogies, as warnings, as solace, and as practical advice can be powerful stimuli to policies; like prescription drugs they may help to cure, but they can also be deadly when taken in excess or as a remedy for the wrong affliction." (6)
This precept seems relevant to Codevilla's flat denial throughout No Victory that Islamic fundamentalism of the Al Qaeda variety is a genuinely novel phenomenon, or even at the heart of the problem we face. Factor out Al Qaeda, he tells us, and we face the very same terrorist problem as we face given their existence (pp. 5, 47-49). Al Qaeda is less "the engine, the artificers, the sine qua non of terrorism than" its banner (p. 7). Thus Codevilla insists that, despite official attempts to make Al Qaeda seem autonomous of states, the organization is in fact their instrument. But for Arab regimes, there would be no Al Qaeda. What power Al Qaeda has, it derives from those regimes.
Codevilla is certainly right to draw attention to the relationship between Al Qaeda and its partners in various states, but I think--influenced too heavily by past experience with fascism, communism, and Christian heresy--that he exaggerates it.
For one thing, we need not appeal to states in order to explain the initial attractions of Islamist ideology: Islamist ideology arose from the intellectual efforts of non-state actors (e.g., Abul Ala Mawdudi, Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden) who attracted their followings in defiance of the Arab regimes Codevilla discusses.
Nor do we need to appeal to states in order to explain the motivation to engage in terrorism given an allegiance to this ideology. The motivation is a direct consequence of a commitment to Islamist ideology, which conceives any challenge to Islamist hegemony over the world as a "grievance" to be rectified by divinely sanctified slaughter. The inspiration for that ideology comes not from states, but from a theological-political conception that finds resonance wherever disaffected Muslims reside--be it in Jidda, Jakarta, or Jersey City. Osama bin Laden's (immensely popular and remarkably well-crafted) speeches are no more encouraged by contemporary Arab regimes than David Koresh's interpretation of Revelation was encouraged by Bill Clinton's Protestantism. (7)
Nor, finally, must we appeal to states in order to explain the logistics of particular terrorist operations. The 9/11 Commission Report, for instance, offers a perfectly plausible, cogent, and evidentially sound account of the 9/11 attacks, while denying any significant role to state actors in their implementation. I don't dispute that the Commission's treatment of state actors is occasionally odd and inconsistent; many of Codevilla's criticisms of the going wisdom on this subject are good ones. But those criticisms do not add up to a case that obliges us to ascribe states the role that Codevilla ascribes them. (8)
Codevilla finds it hard to believe that contemporary Islamic fundamentalism might arise from Muslims' sheer belief that God commands jihad to revive the ancient caliphate. He finds it equally difficult to believe that people would "give their lives for lost causes"; such people, he claims, "exist more in novels than in reality" (p. 100). He insists that once we get rid of Iraq, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority, Islamists will give up their war against us, too demoralized to fight. "[W]hat reason," he asks, "would any Arab inclined to Islamism or radical nationalism have to believe that such causes would stand a chance of success? ... For whom, in short, would they soldier" (p. 54)?
But it seems to me that David Tucker is right in saying that, on these issues, Codevilla "misunderstands and underestimates our enemies" (p. 82). For one thing, Codevilla's skepticism can, I think, easily be answered: Islamists fight fi sabil ilah (in the path of God), and a person who fights from that motive doesn't worry about the sort of "success" Codevilla has in mind. Nor do such people exist merely in novels; they exist in sufficient numbers in sick societies like those throughout the Islamic world, where life is cheap, self-deception is ubiquitous, and murderous simpletons have charge over young and impressionable minds. Nor, in the minds of the practitioners, can the cause ever be "lost": its success, after all, is in God's hands.
Codevilla refuses to take seriously the possibility that contemporary Islamic fundamentalism is precisely what it claims to be: not the cynical work of Arab regimes pursuing worldly interests, but a sincere rebellion, motivated by religious belief, for supremacy over an ignorant (jahil) world (p. 53). He claims that intra-Muslim theological debates "are not terribly relevant" to fighting the war (p. 53). In fact, those debates define the very identity of the enemy--his worldview, his strategy, his tactics, and even his sexual, dietary, and lavatory habits. To ignore the debates is to ignore the very identity of the enemy. (9)
Codevilla is right to say that regimes do play a role in generating terrorism, and to that extent we must combat them. It is true, as he argues, that we cannot afford to sit back and play defense against terrorism. That means, as he says, that we must seek out battlefields of our choosing and go on the offensive. Iraq is one such battlefield, Afghanistan another.
I do not see, however, that Codevilla has made a case for taking the war to Syria or Palestine. The Syrian and Palestinian regimes are sick and ugly ones, to be sure, but that doesn't by itself make them fountainheads of terrorism, and I think Codevilla greatly underestimates the costs of trying to destroy them. Putting aside the strictly military and economic costs, there are the moral ones to consider: If as he says, we lack the right to rule Arab regimes (p. 50), it is far from clear that we have the right to inflict invasions on them simply because a few thousand people in their midst espouse anti-American ideologies. If any one country deserves to be invaded on that basis, it is Pakistan, and yet almost anyone would say that such a cure would be worse than the disease. (10) So it is, I think, with Codevilla's prescriptions for war with Syria and Palestine.
As for the threat we'll face after we prevail in Afghanistan or Iraq (assuming we do prevail), contrary to Codevilla, that really is a matter of defensive anti-terrorism. For contrary to Codevilla, offensive action abroad will hinder the enemy but not destroy him or make us as safe as we deserve to be. The terrorist threat that remains (and if I'm right about its nature, some will remain) is something we'll have to leave to the CIA, FBI, INS, and Homeland Security--not to mention the local police department's network of Muslim informants. (11) Contrary to Codevilla's exaggerated critique of Homeland Security (pp. 41-43, 128-32), it has an important role to play, and we have no choice but to rely on it.
3. What Is Victory?
At this point Codevilla might respond that a war that stops at Iraq and Afghanistan is a mere half-measure--a war fought on the cheap that stops short of victory, concedes too much to security bureaucrats, and thus lacks a real point. Such a war, I suspect he would say, violates the Aristotelian precept mentioned at the outset: either fight to victory or don't bother.
Codevilla complains that his critics typically skirt any serious discussion of the nature of victory (p. 83). I hereby propose to remedy that. "To move successfully," Codevilla writes, "one must understand the state of rest to which one must come. To tailor operations for a victory worthy of the name, one must understand the peace that victory is to produce, and what stands in the way" (pp. xii-xiii). I agree. But what is the state of rest? What counts as a victory worthy of the name?
Throughout No Victory, Codevilla writes as though the term "victory" has an obvious meaning, and that given this obvious meaning, the choices we face in the current war are either to aim at victory as he conceives of it--or to be defeated. But there are two significant and unaddressed problems here.
There is first the problem of feasibility. Victory, we are told, is peace on our terms. Since Codevilla understands "liberty" in such a way as to be incompatible with Homeland Security (along with gun control and SWAT teams), he thinks that a liberty-loving peace implies the abolition of Homeland Security. Peace, then, is the restoration of the status quo ante bellum--indeed, the status quo of forty years ago. Queried as to the feasibility of this goal, Codevilla simply equates it with victory, then questions his critics' commitment to victory (pp. 89-93).
But isn't it legitimate to wonder whether military victory--indeed, whether any human action--can literally turn the clock back forty years? It is one thing to say that victory is the destruction of the enemy's center of gravity. It is another thing to treat military victory as so utterly decisive as to eradicate the terrorist threat entirely from the face of the earth simply by demoralizing its practitioners. If the threat is as I've described it in the previous section, we are facing an enemy that is encouraged by victory but not discouraged by defeat. These are people who by their own admission lust for death. Military victory will cripple but never entirely demoralize them.
Nor is the preceding claim inconsistent with a wholehearted commitment to the classical conception of victory. Consider by way of analogy the U.S. Civil War, a paradigm case of a war fought (by the Union) to victory in the classical sense. It is true that the peace negotiated at Appomattox Court House was peace on the Union's terms. It was also a peace that heralded the destruction and/or subjugation of the Confederate enemy. And yet victory was insufficient to neutralize the relevant threat. For after the war came the Klan and its decades-long "festival of violence." (12) What was the Klan but a terrorist group, and what was the federal government's decades-long campaign against it and its heirs (compare Little Rock 1957) but a large-scale police action--a version of Homeland Security? The lesson: military victory, even in the classical sense, does not resolve political problems as decisively as Codevilla suggests.
Closely related to the problem of feasibility is the problem of cost. We've had four years to see the cost of an offensive military strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq--thousands of casualties, but merely halting progress (if that) toward victory. Codevilla suggests that Iraq and Afghanistan are just the beginning: If we want victory, there is more warfare to come; if we aren't up for more warfare, it means that we must not want victory all that badly. But the thought of wars beyond Iraq and Afghanistan causes vertigo. Codevilla criticizes the Bush Administration for launching an indefinitely long war, but how would Codevilla's preferred war strategy prove any shorter or less costly?
In response to such a query, Codevilla asserts that the cost-benefit calculation is obvious: "Killing these regimes would be relatively easy, would be a favor to the people living under them, and is the only way to stop terrorism among us" (p. 55). But that seems too good to be true. Apart from whether regime-destruction really stops terrorism, our experience in Iraq suggests that it isn't easy. And if Codevilla thinks we should invade, destroy, and leave--as opposed to occupying--it is far from clear that the ensuing chaos is really a "favor" to the people living in the countries we invade. That chaos seems less like victory for us than an engraved invitation to the world's mujahidin to take up residence in the subsequent chaos and form a new base, that is, a new "qaeda."
Like Codevilla, I agree that victory is the natural aim of warfare, and that we should aim at victory against our current enemy. We disagree, then, on how victory is to be understood. How to resolve this dispute? Perhaps by taking a closer look at the nature of victory.
Codevilla's preferred analogue for understanding warfare is medicine (pp. 24, 37, 61-62). An enemy's belligerence, he repeatedly tells us, is like a disease. Intelligence gives us a diagnosis of the cause of the disease, while victory cures it. It's worth noting that in every case where Codevilla likens military victory to a medical cure, he has in mind a very specific kind of disease, etiology, and therapy. The maladies he has in mind are always a matter of life and death, and the therapies either save the patient or kill him. Warfare, on this understanding, is analogous not to medicine as such, but to the medicine of the emergency room or intensive care unit.
I wonder whether this analogy isn't the heart of the problem with Codevilla's conception of victory. For pace Hobbes (compare the Introduction to Leviathan), our commonwealth is not analogous to a body, nor are our enemies really analogous to diseases. More to the point, generals and armies aren't analogous to doctors and medical personnel, and warfare isn't analogous to medical treatment. Medicine is an interpersonal activity; warfare is not. Warfare operates by force; medicine does not. Furthermore, doctors exercise a sort of control over the environments that generals can never have. In any case, outside of emergency contexts, medicine often involves trade-offs that are incompatible with Codevilla's conception of victory. On Codevilla's account, victory in warfare is an all-or-nothing matter. In medicine, by contrast, it can often be rational to accept a partial cure in preference to suffering an untreated malady.
A closer analogue to war, I would have thought, is not medicine but that other use of weaponized force in human life--domestic law enforcement's response to crime. Here, too, we have a conception of victory involving the restoration of a broken peace, but the relevant conception is a complex one, involving trade-offs between distinct values, for example, incapacitation, deterrence, retribution, and compensation. I find it unfortunate in this light that Codevilla's attitude toward domestic law enforcement is so consistently derisive. Are there no important lessons to be learned about warfare from our everyday encounter with those who, in Locke's words, put themselves in a state of war with us?
Having made these criticisms, however, let me end by recording a debt of gratitude to Codevilla for having raised the issues in the first place. To paraphrase John Adams, I suppose I've learned from Codevilla the unpalatable truth that I'm obliged to study the nature of victory in war so that I may someday have the chance to go back to studying philosophy without having to think about war again. (13) I am not sure that that day will ever come. But victory is the only route to it.
Perhaps this is the place to note a few other factual problems, not directly related to the issues in the text, but still relevant:
(i) In criticizing the Bush Administration's conduct of the Iraq war, Codevilla asserts that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) (p. 16). But in a somewhat cryptic passage later in the book, he asserts that "of course" they had them (p. 117). Codevilla's first claim is rebutted by the final report of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). Iraq may have lacked stockpiles of WMD, but according to the ISG report, it certainly had capacities to generate them. Possession of these capacities by Iraq was prohibited as per clause 8 of UN Resolution 687. It follows from these facts and the wording of the clause that as of March 2003, Iraq did have WMD.
(ii) Codevilla repeats the oft-made claim that the Clinton Administration's 1998 missile attack on the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Factory turned out to be an attack on "an innocent medicine factory" (p. 47). This charge is thoroughly rebutted in Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simons's book The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America (Random House, 2003), pp. 351-63, especially p. 355. At the very least, we can say that the evidence that Benjamin and Simon present in favor of nerve gas production capacity at Al Shifa is stronger than the evidence Codevilla offers throughout his book for an operational connection between Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi intelligence services (e.g., p. 46).
(iii) Codevilla claims that the Taliban's connection to bin Laden was merely tribal, and that, if pressured, the Taliban would have given up bin Laden to American authorities (p. 48). But this claim is impossible to reconcile with the fact that between August 1998 and October 2001 the Taliban were repeatedly pressured by the U.S. government into giving up bin Laden, and refused to do so. See the chronology of events in Ahmed Rashid's Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale Nota Bene, 2001), Appendix 3, pp. 231-35.
(iv) On p. 112, Codevilla claims that as of summer 2003, U.S. intelligence was utterly ignorant of Saddam Hussein's intentions and whereabouts. But this claim is difficult to reconcile with Saddam's capture just a few months later by American forces. It is also difficult to reconcile with the efforts of the CIA's ISG and the Pentagon's United States Joint Forces Command's report of the Iraq Perspectives Project (USJFC-IPP), both underway when Codevilla's essay was published. The now-published ISG and USJFC-IPP reports (both available online) answer many of the questions Codevilla poses in the book about Saddam's strategic intentions, and suggest that U.S. intelligence was better off than his (Codevilla's) criticisms suggest.
(v) On p. 180, Codevilla describes the Sunni-Shia split in Islam as having come into existence in the eighteenth century. (I suspect that this is a typographical error.) In fact, the split came into existence in the seventh century, sometime between the so-called Ghadir Khumm incident (632 A.D.) and the battle of Karbala (680 A.D.).
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
(1) Angelo M. Codevilla, No Victory, No Peace (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).
(2) I'd like to offer heartfelt thanks to Aeon Skoble and Reason Papers for the opportunity to run the symposium, and to the participants for agreeing to take part. A special thanks to Carrie-Ann Biondi, who did the bulk of the editing both on the symposium and on the issue as a whole.
(3) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, I.1.
(4) Ayn Rand, "What Is Capitalism?" in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New American Library, 1967), p. 18. The equation of "regimes" and Randian "social systems" is my idea, not Codevilla's. Though the idea of a "regime" is broadly Straussian in provenance, Codevilla offers no explicit definition of the term, and I am not certain where Strauss discusses it.
(5) Cf. Codevilla, No Victory, "Introduction," and Paul Seabury and Angelo Codevilla, War: Ends and Means, 2d ed. (Basic Books, 1990).
(6) Seabury and Codevilla, War: Ends and Means, p. 60.
(7) See Bruce Lawrence, ed., Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (Verso, 2005). The back cover quotes Princeton Orientalist Bernard Lewis: "A magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose...."
(8) See The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, authorized ed. (Norton, 2004), chs. 5-8.
The report denies (in section 5.4 [pp. 169-73] and pp. 228-29) significant state sponsorship of the 9/11 attacks. But Codevilla is right to draw attention in No Victory to holes in the Commission's view. Consider five of them (my examples, not his): (i) The report describes Khalid Sheikh Muhammad as "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks," but makes inconsistent claims about his relation to Al Qaeda, and by implication about Al Qaeda's role in the attacks (cf. pp. 149-50 with p. 154). (ii) The report relies heavily on Muhammad's testimony, but offers inconsistent accounts of his veracity, and never credibly explains why it is that he chose to speak to American authorities in the first place (see p. 146; p. 215 denies his credibility, while p. 229 affirms it). (iii) The report's discussion (pp. 228-29) of the notorious Atta-Ani meeting in Prague is internally inconsistent. (iv) The report mentions significant operational connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq in passing without rebutting them (pp. 128, 134). (v) The report's denial of state sponsorship in the 9/11 attacks is in tension with its discussion of a connection between Al Qaeda and Iran (pp. 240-41).
These anomalies, while significant, still do not add up to the strong claims that Codevilla makes in No Victory.
(9) See Appendix A.
(10) Codevilla insists throughout the book that our enemies are specifically Arab regimes (pp. 3, 65). Oddly, he says nothing about an obvious non-Arab regime: Pakistan. But consider: (i) Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency is widely known to have had explicit connections to al Qaeda and to closely-related terrorist groups; (ii) Pakistani religious institutions are home to a major school of terrorist ideology, derived from the works of Abul Ala Mawdudi; (iii) Pakistan has atomic weapons, and its nuclear scientists (e.g., Abdul Qadir Khan) appear to have few scruples about giving nuclear material to terrorists (e.g., Muammar Qaddafi); and (iv) Pakistanis (or their proxies) have engaged in major terrorist actions around the world (e.g., the attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, the anti-French suicide bombing in Karachi of May 2002, the notorious murder of Daniel Pearl, the London bus/subway attack of July 2005, and of course Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's role in the 9/11 attacks).
Surely, these facts make Pakistan more of a problem for the United States than either Syria or the Palestinian Authority. In stressing the Arab role, Codevilla also ignores several major terrorist attacks by non-Arab Muslims, e.g., Richard Reid's bombing attempt in December 2001; the Bali bombing, engineered by Indonesians (October 12, 2002); and the Chechen attack on the Dubrovka theater in Moscow (October 23, 2002). Finally, in describing suicide bombings as essentially tied to Arab regimes, he ignores the fact that the technique originated with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a non-Arab, non-regime-based terrorist movement.
(11) See, e.g., William K. Rashbaum, "Detective was 'Walking Camera' Among City Muslims, He Testifies," The New York Times, May 19, 2006, pp. B1, B6. This police investigation is supposed to have foiled a plot to blow up Herald Square in Manhattan. See also the description of the foiling of the so-called Millennium Plot by the INS in the 9/11 Commission Report, pp. 176-80, and generally ch. 12.
(12) See Stewart E. Tolnay and E. M. Beck, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 (University of Illinois Press, 1995).
(13) John Adams, "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy ...," quoted in Seabury and Codevilla, War: Ends and Means, p. 3.