Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Security and Terrorism.

At the heart of American conservative thinking lies a faulty analysis of what fuels terrorism and how America can increase its own security.

An example of this is exhibited by lawyers Lynn Chu and John Yoo in today's International Herald Tribune. In an comment, misleadingly entitled Why are the pacifists so passive?, on the Democrats position on Iraq, they write:

"Our national security interests here are high. If we falter now, it would be read as a "defeat" and embolden more terrorist attacks on us.

Once again, the world would begin to doubt American strength. This would undermine our ability to conduct credible diplomacy, while electrifying Islamists to further jihad."

This is where the reasoning breaks down. Yes, a failure now will be read as a defeat and will in the short term encourage use of violence against America, but doubts about American strength is not what fuels terrorist attacks on the US, nor is it a necessary prerequisite for "credible diplomacy". Rather its the perception of American strength that fuels anger and hatred of America. Al Quaedi deliberately attacked the US on Sep. 11 2001, because they wanted, and believed they would get, an aggressive American response.

The philosophy of terrorism, whether its done by Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), Red Brigades, IRA, ETA, Hizbollah, Hamas or Al Quedi, is to expose the violence and aggression of their enemies by provoking disproportionate responses to terrorist attacks. The disproportionate response will then rally people to the terrorist cause.

This tactic failed for the RAF and Red Brigade in Germany and Italy, was partially successful in Northern Ireland and the Basque region and has succeeded in Palestine.

If the US wants to "win" its "war on terror", it must abandon its belief in military force and coercive tactics, and realise it is actually the use of force that emboldens terrorists.


At 14 February, 2007 01:14, Blogger Charles said...


I have to confess that I have a little twitch after reading this entry. :-) I will give you this - I agree with part of your assessment. Military force is not effective against an enemy (terrorists) that find more honor in death than in life, and welcome martyrdom. But it will never ever matter whether we are fighting them or retreating. They (the terrorists) will hate you and me regardless. It won't matter. They won't be happy until the flag of Islam is flying over the White House, and for that matter, the world. My heart goes out to the innocents on both sides.


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