View Full Version : Get Proactive against the Terrorists

01-13-04, 08:15 AM

Get Proactive against the Terrorists

By Patrick Hayes

As 2004 lurches forward with unknown potential, U.S. officials seem to flinch every time Osama bin Laden spurts out more noxious venom. Such over-reaction seems to be doing bin Laden’s work for him.

This raises an interesting conundrum.

What is the objective of terrorism if not to terrorize? In the current case of Islamic lunatics who blow themselves and others up for their cause, the objective is no less than the destruction of the West and the installation of an Islamic “utopia” around the globe.

Although some recent threatened attacks may have been averted by quick and decisive action on the part of the government, it seems that in general, all bin Laden has to do to disrupt the American economy and undermine public morale is make a new threat through his Islamic world TV network, Al Jazeera. By doing so, he causes terror in the West and continues to disrupt the economy, without lifting a finger, as the New Year’s Eve “Code Orange” alert suggests.

When bin Laden or one of his vermin speak, bellies tighten, the threat level goes up and we prepare for another hit like 9/11. But when Homeland Security officials send out these messages of paranoia, are we not undermining ourselves by showing fear and weakness in the face of these fanatics? However we react, lock society down, raise the threat levels, scare the public, infringe on individual rights, and, in general, respond to every shadow on the radar screen, isn’t it possible that all we are doing is just terrorizing ourselves?

As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, “Cowards die many times before their deaths;
the valiant never taste of death but once.”

Rather than figuratively scrambling for cover every time we receive a rabid threat from bin Laden, wouldn’t it be better to ask what else can we do better to defeat him and his 12th-century maniacs, as quickly, silently and painfully as possible?

Another aspect of fighting terrorism is perception. Therefore, every time people run for the bunker or show fear as a new threat is announced, consider how that reaction is perceived in the Third World, particularly in the Islamic world where resolve and power are respected, not fear.

As political commentator Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News on Monday, “It’s offense, not defense. We have to hit them where they live.” That should be a no-brainer, even in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, even after 9/11, many Americans still don’t see the reality that we are engaged in a global war, simply because they themselves have never faced a life-or-death situation.

In the weeks and months after the 2001 attacks, the nation appeared as Theodore Roosevelt once said: “The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame.” But while 9/11 was a devastating blow – with more fatalities than we suffered at Pearl Harbor – the fuse of American wrath today is either burning very slowly, or has gone out altogether.

Fighting terrorists requires that we take aggressive and devastating action. Leaders need to ignore the constant whining by questionable and defeatist organizations such as the ACLU, when such organizations place the rights of terrorists and {} criminals over the rights, safety and values of society as a whole.

Dealing with terrorism is not like being at war with Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. The majority can no longer sit back and expect others to do the fighting and dying while they remain safe 7,000 miles away.

In any event, the fight is here and now. Since the nature of this particular Islamic terrorist threat means that every American man, woman and child is a potential target, every man, woman and child also needs to be prepared to do what is necessary defense of themselves and their families.

Rather than defeat ourselves with a “bunker mentality” and do the work of the Islamic terrorists for them, Americans need to ensure that those who are doing the actual fighting receive the training, support and logistics they need.

Rather than huddle in fear at bin Laden’s threats, or feel that we take our lives in our hands each time we board a plane, fighting terrorism proactively demands that we curtail the legalistic shackles that bind us in red tape.

Nothing is more irritating than listening to lawyers and judges, whose knowledge of life is seen solely through the prism of a law book, defend the rights of terrorists, like those incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, or even accused American Islamic terrorists imprisoned in the United States.

In the field, military leadership must lead rather than leave combat decision-making up to second-guessing JAG lawyers as they continue to condemn combat troops for acting with expediency to save American lives rather than showing “courtesy” to suspected terrorists.

Less than a full day into the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, an unidentified Pentagon JAG lawyer in Central Command refused permission for U.S. troops to attack a convoy in which the one-eyed Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was traveling. This occurred not once, but twice! Not only did Omar escape, but the war dragged on and more Americans died.

Also, bin Laden escaped death in the mountains of Afghanistan when he was identified three times by CIA analysts via Predator drones equipped with video cameras and Hellfire missiles. However, the Washington hand-wringers were unable to make a decision and he escaped.

A former U.S. attorney, Mary Jo White, put it best: “Criminal prosecutions are simply not a sufficient response to international terrorism.”

In an article in the American Enterprise Institute’s Homeland Dangers, “Keep Legal Battles off the Battlefield,” (January/February 2003), Alan Dowd of the Hudson Institute captured the argument when he wrote, “Our courts are for administering justice in America and settling disputes between Americans – not for waging war.”

Fighting terrorists in general, and suicidal Islamic terrorists in particular, is not a legal issue. It is an urgent wartime necessity. And there is no acceptable second place in the current conflict.

The men whose job it is to wage the war and protect this country need the equipment and support required to go after the terrorists where they live and kill them – regardless of national boundaries. When dealing with Islamic terrorists, worrying about borders such as the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan, Iran, Syria, or anywhere else they may be hiding, is folly.

The only way to defeat terrorism does not include legal niceties. In a combat situation, there is no time for lawyers to ponder the question. If troops in the field and the special operators are allowed to do their job proactively without the hindrance of those whose self-serving motives may be questioned, then the current, almost self-defeating, “terror alert” system might actually be effective.

To quote Teddy Roosevelt again, “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”

Patrick Hayes is a Senior Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at gyrene@sftt.org.