IT’S A GRAY AREA (15)
THE REALITIES OF TERRORISM
What are the goals of Terrorists? This is, of course, a complicated question. But in my view terrorists have essentially three goals, which are:
1) To break down the Rule of Law into tyranny – usually as controlled by an absolutism as espoused by a particular form of radical religious or political doctrine;
2) To have this absolutism take control of governments; and
3) To stifle free dissent against and even discussion about the views and tenets of this absolutist doctrine.
What are the Methods of Terrorists? In my view, terrorists generally employ three methods to accomplish their goals:
1) They employ fear as a tactic by using random violence against government institutions and civilians;
2) They act so as to cause the concern of the general population for Security to be elevated above the concern for Freedom; and
3) They attempt to polarize the opponents of the absolutist doctrine into camps that are hostile to and intolerant of each other.
Who are the Enablers of Terrorists?
1) Those who deprive others of the protections of the Rule of Law for reasons of “security” or fear;
2) Those who hide behind “reasons of security” to conceal their own actions, and manipulate the prosecution of terrorism to obtain personal advantage; and
3) Those who label dissenters to the elevation of concerns for security over the concept of freedom as unpatriotic or even terrorists themselves.
What are the Best Defenses against Terrorists?
1) Accurate and timely intelligence are key. Otherwise combating terrorism is a police matter – a critically important one, but a police matter just the same. No special additional laws were required even after the horrors of September 11,2001 to combat terrorism any more than they would have been required to combat violent bank robbers, kidnappers or rapists. Long before that terrible day the law already had in place appropriate responses for situations involving “ticking time bombs” or threats of immediate peril.
2) Maintain an open and confident America. Today, even though we are the world’s strongest military and economic power and we lead the world in technology and research, we have a tendency to see ourselves as besieged and overwhelmed. As a result we often feel that we have no alternative but to act quickly and pre-emptively in foreign affairs. This has made us look like we are arrogant, uncaring and insensitive bullies, and has effectively alienated us from our allies and created additional antagonists.
Instead, we should re-engage our strengths, which are openness and confidence. These have enabled our great country over the years not only to manage change and diversity, but to thrive as a result of them. This means that we should again promote free and open trade, invite foreigners to travel and study in our great land, and once again show the people of the world by our actions that we care about them and will address their as well as our problems with an even hand.
3) Keep some perspective on the issue. No matter how we prepare or what shortcuts we take with our civil liberties, sometime and someplace there will be another successful terrorist attack. We cannot guarantee that bad things will not happen in a free society. But if we give up our freedoms, we give up our soul, and if we give up our soul there will be no more America to lose. That means that the terrorists will have been successful.
Of course we must be vigilant and do our best to prepare against harm. But in doing this we must try to emulate the British during the Battle of Britain when death and destruction were literally falling down upon them daily from German bombers. They did their best to prepare and to be safe, but then they went along with their daily lives. The fact is that today we are hundreds of times more likely to be killed by cigarette smoke than to be killed by terrorists.
Apply these realities to the world as you now see it, and determine how well the goals of terrorists are being promoted, and by whom. Then try to do everything you can not to be an instrument of irrational fear and weakness – and terror.