The Terrorist Advantage
Date: Wednesday, March 26 @ 04:20:54 UTC
Topic: War Analysis
by Charley Reese
Picture this: a terrorist lazily swinging in a hammock under a nice, shady tree and sipping a cool drink. He's at work. By just existing, the terrorist is causing Americans to spend billions of dollars.
That's the terrorist advantage. He can strike anywhere at any time. His target, however, has to try to be on guard all the time everywhere. New York City's heightened state of alert is costing it several million dollars a week it can't afford. Thus, by just lying in his hammock, the terrorist is accomplishing one of his goals — to make Americans fearful and anxious.
The fact is, terrorists could take a year, two years or even three or more years before they strike us again. In the meantime, given the government's desire to politicize its war on terror and the media's perpetual hysteria, we will spend and spend on security and, given the present administration's fear of liberty, nibble away at individual rights.
The proper way to deal with terrorists is to ignore them. That means reasonable security at airports and ports of entry, but all of this show of uniforms and guns and stupid color schemes isn't going to do any good. Like the old baseball player who used to "hit 'em where they ain't," the terrorists, when they are ready, will simply choose a target that's unguarded. Given today's media environment, it doesn't matter where they strike. A bomb in a mall in Smallville, Nowhere, will generate the same publicity as a bomb in New York or Washington, D.C.
The Israelis have been a miserable failure at preventing terrorism (their policies generate it perpetually), but they do know how to deal with the attacks. They clean up the mess, bury the victims and go right on with their lives. They don't talk about it for weeks on end or shut down their country. They've learned to accept it as a fact of life. There are accidents, there are storms and there are terrorist incidents. Clean up, bury the dead and go on with life.
We Americans are going to have to learn to do that, too, at least until we elect a government with brains enough to solve the political problems that generate terrorism. The Bush administration is dead-wrong to think that it can solve the problem of terrorism by hunting down the terrorists. That assumes there are a finite number of terrorists, like the old Dalton Gang.
New terrorists are being recruited every day. In this case, we are imitating the failed policies of the Israeli government. While we send our soldiers and assassins out to kill terrorists, our political policies generate more terrorists. If you believe this bilge that the war on Iraq won't swell the ranks of terrorist organizations, then you have a lot of studying to do on the culture of the Middle East. Both vengeance and patience are deeply rooted in that culture.
If we allow our government to pursue perpetual war, then we will lose our freedom altogether. It might be true that the first casualty of war is truth, but the second is individual freedom — especially the freedom to dissent from the war government's policies. That's why we must elect people who will eliminate terrorism the only way it can be eliminated — by correcting the injustices that cause it.
Terrorists are people who, lacking an army and navy, strike at their enemy the only way they can. They are not irrational people. They are not motivated by jealousy of our freedom or our wealth. Like a regular army, they are pursuing a political goal by means of force. But, given the imperial ambitions and arrogant obtuseness of the Bush administration, you'd better get used to terrorism. Treat the occasional attack like a tornado. Bad luck, but life goes on.
© 2003 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.