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Getting Tough

Frank Gaffney's prescription for fighting the war on terror.

11:00 PM, Jan 29, 2006 • By FRED BARNES
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PRESIDENT BUSH is a book reader. Last year, he read three books on George Washington and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave him a book on the peace talks after World War I entitled Paris 1919. This year, he's delved into the new biography of Mao Zedong with simple title Mao.

Presumptuous though it is, I have a recommendation of another book for him to read. It's War Footing, edited and partly written by Frank Gaffney Jr., the president of the Center for Security Policy. True, Bush is already on war footing. But this book is filled with fresh ideas about intensifying the war on Islamist terrorism, ideas the president may not have thought through or even thought about at all.

Gaffney is someone to take seriously. There are many so-called defense experts around the country, particularly in Washington. Unlike many of them, Gaffney actually is an expert, having served at the Pentagon in the Reagan administration. And he is a noted defense hardliner.

The book offers "ten steps America must take to prevail in the war for the Free World," and several stand out--because they make enormous sense and because they are not the standard advice that emerges from pro-defense circles. Former CIA director James Woolsey writes in the forward that "there is something important missing in the Bush administration's approach" to waging war on terrorists. It's clarity. War Footing provides clarity.

The third step, for example, is to "provide for U.S. energy security" and it is drastic. "It will be extremely difficult to win the war against Islamofascism as long as we continue to send huge amounts of petrodollars to those who wish us harm," Gaffney asserts. He's referring to Saudis and Iranians who fund anti-American terrorists. They have the power to devastate the American economy instantly by cutting off oil.

What to do? All new cars, Gaffney argues, should be flexible-fuel vehicles that run on both gasoline and alcohol-based fuels. Hybrids with electric-powered batteries that dramatically increase mileage should be encouraged through tax credits and rebates. These would "reward consumers for reducing consumption of petroleum-based fuels and emissions.

"The technological transformation of the transportation sector will take roughly 15 to 20 years, as new vehicles replace old ones," Gaffney says. "That is why it is imperative to begin the process without delay." The president is said to be sympathetic to this.

Bush may or may not be inclined to grab onto Gaffney's advice on engaging in no-holds-barred political warfare. American public diplomacy is failing, he says. "Currently the underlying theme is 'why do they hate us?' when it ought to be 'what is wrong with them?'" Instead, an effort should be pursued to "de-legitimize Islamist extremism in the eyes of Muslims. We need to show them that, although violent Islamism is certainly a problem for us in the West, it is a vastly greater problem for the Muslim community."

Bush is sure not to go along with Gaffney's ideas on immigration. To keep terrorists out, Gaffney would augment border security with military personnel and build a high tech, electronic fence along the entire border with Mexico. And he would make it tougher for immigrants to enter this country legally as well.

Gaffney's view is definitely what White House political adviser Karl Rove would call "post-9/11." He regards the battle with terrorists to be a full-fledged "War for the Free World." Once that is recognized, he says, the "moral clarity" needed to sustain the high costs of the war will be restored. And any suggestion of moral equivalence between the terrorists and those who fight them here or abroad will be erased.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.