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July 18, 2005

A Defensive War Against Terrorism Will Ensure Terrorism

Time for Stoic Brits to Come Out Swinging (News link deleted - no longer valid.)

One way of measuring any terrorist attack is to look at whether the killers accomplished everything they set out to. On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida set out to hijack four planes and succeeded in seizing every one. Had the killers attempted to take another 30 jets between 7:30 and 9 that morning, who can doubt that they'd have maintained their pristine 100 percent success rate? Throughout the IRA's long war against the British Crown, two generations of politicians pointed out that there would always be the odd ''crack in the system'' through which the determined terrorist would slip. But on 9/11 the failure of the system was total.

Thursday, al-Qaida hit three London Underground trains and one bus. Had they broadened their attentions from the Central Zone, had they attempted to blow up 30 trains across the furthest reaches of the Tube map, from Uxbridge to Upminster, who can doubt that they too would have been successful? In other words, the scale of the carnage was constrained only by the murderers' ambition and their manpower.

The difference is that 9/11 hit out of the blue -- literally and politically; 7/7 came after four years of Her Majesty's government prioritizing terrorism and ''security'' above all else -- and the failure rate was still 100 percent. After the Madrid bombing, I was struck by a spate of "comic" security breaches in London: two Greenpeace guys shin up St. Stephen's Tower at the Palace of Westminster, a Daily Mirror reporter bluffs his way into a servant's gig at Buckingham Palace a week before Bush comes to stay; an Osama lookalike gatecrashes Prince William's birthday party. As I wrote last March: "History repeats itself: farce, farce, farce, but sooner or later tragedy is bound to kick in. The inability of the state to secure even the three highest-profile targets in the realm -- the queen, her heir, her Parliament -- should remind us that a defensive war against terrorism will ensure terrorism.''

It's just amazing to me how many people, after 9/11 and even until today, started whining about how well we're not locking our doors, then further to criticise our taking of the fight to the terrorists. The old battle cry, or, rather, fear of a battle cry, for these people is, "We (America) should be minding our own business!"

If we ever want proof that our education system is failing, that's it. Freedom is defined by unlocked doors. What makes it possible is an underlying philosophy of respecting the rights of others. The contrary philosophy, moral relativism, which tells us that there are no inherent rights (or what our Declaration of Independence calls "Unalienable Rights"), but instead proclaims there are only differing opinions of good and bad, pulls the rug out from under freedom and reduces it to a matter of "might makes right". What makes the philosophy of freedom different is the anti-thesis of "might makes right": self restraint; those who believe in freedom and the inherent moral rights which form its foundation will avoid violating those rights even if they have the power to do so and to get away with it. (As an example: what prevents me from stealing isn't the fear of getting caught, but my respect for the rights of the owner. It's also what prevents me from killing people just because they disagree with me.)

Here at home, it's important that we continue to teach, and to shore up wherever its enemies knock it down, the philosophy of freedom: respecting the unalienable rights of others (and while I'm not at all religious, I can't help but notice that the Judeao-Christian traditions are monumentally effective at this). That's our primary, and long term, preventative measure against "home grown" terrorists.

In the short term, while we have enemy forces outside of the country taking aim at us, we also must also improve the locks on our doors. But ultimately this is not an effective solution; we must also put an end to the need for these locks. In the medium term, that means taking the fight to our enemies and killing them, thus eliminating their immediate threat; but there will always be new enemies to take their places. So in the long term, the solution is to eliminate what allows them to continue to replicate, and that means eliminating their central philosophy, a philsophy which is counter to freedom and thus counter to respect for the rights of others.

In practice, the short term solution is The Patriot Act. I don't like it, and I suspect that you don't like it either. It's a locking of our doors, an elimination of freedoms here at home. But the alternative is death by terrorism. These "Patriot Acts" should certainly not be made permanent, as the current administration wants, but instead be given sunset dates so that they never become an excuse to avoid the medium and/or long term solutions.

The medium term solution, in practice, involves the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and probably more wars still. Every time that one of those who are out to get us, as they did on 9/11 and 7/7, is killed, that's one less lock that we need on our doors at home.

The long term solution, in practice, is the overthrow of the governments in Afghanistan and Iraq (and maybe more to come) to eliminate their poison apple underlying philosophies and then to replace them with freedom and democracy. Far from being an expendable solution, it's the only real solution; i.e., the only solution which has any chance of long term success. The short and medium term solutions just bide time while this long term solution takes place.

History, I believe, will judge President George W. Bush as one of the greats. He won't be forgotten, but will instead have a name recognized the world over, and recognized amicably, just as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are recognized. Those who recognize him as such today are in tune with the future.

Those who despise President Bush are, for the most part, not part of the problem, but instead are inertia which prevents the solution from succeeding sooner. But, as someone pointed out, the cold war was won without their help, this one will be too.

Posted by Jeff at July 18, 2005 05:12 PM


you were doing well there, for a while. but, the medium and long term solutions are not necessary. tolerance is advisable immediately.

on 9/11 we received _the_ message. since that time we have ignored it. another war has not solved anything. WE HAVE THE INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF IN OUR HANDS - IRAQ AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. nothing is better now that there is a war in iraq. noone is safer - in the UK or elsewhere. thousands of innocent iraqis died in july alone, doing nothing more than trying to live their lives.

as you said: "self restraint; those who believe in freedom and the inherent moral rights which form its foundation will avoid violating those rights even if they have the power to do so and to get away with it."

"probably more wars"? "the overthrow of governments"? you could not contradict yourself more clearly.

you were doing well at the beginning. alas, you lost your focus. and your restraint.

Posted by: joe bloe at August 29, 2005 06:04 PM

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