Friday, July 22, 2005

Global Terrorism: A Refresher

America is at war. For some reason, that fact gets forgotten a lot by people, but it’s true. And it’s not something we really had a choice in. Sure, we could have left Afghanistan alone, but then if he had, Al Qaeda would still have a whole country in which to recruit, train, and deploy terrorists. And sure, we could have left Saddam alone in Iraq, but his behavior over the years does not suggest to me that he would have stopped supporting terrorists, whatever he did with the WMD known to exist in 1995 and 1998. The War on Terrorism had to start somewhere, and it began not only with responding to 9/11, but with a plan to eradicate the threat of Global Terrorism. Let me be very clear where I stand; Iraq had to be invaded just as much as Afghanistan, and the United States has won not one but a series of stunning victories, apparent only when one matches up the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, with what was available in the past generation, or even the past century, and in some places, ever in History before. The cost in casualities taken by Coalition forces, matched against these victories, is very, very low. Any general from any other place and time than 21st Century USA would have laughed in delight at his good fortune. Instead, American leaders are expected to have prevented any losses at all, as if US soldiers should be expected to never die or suffer serious injury. Frankly, it is obscene for many on the Left to criticize the War as they do, when the casualty records from previous wars are clear testimony to the cost of defending freedom. I have no respect, none, for the men who lie that they “support the troops”, but make no attempt to understand or support their mission or goals.

Global Terrorism is different from terrorism in general. Timothy McVeigh, as foul as his act was, was unable to continue his murders beyond the first attempt. Others are able to act for a longer time, but on a small and personal scale, like a gang which terrorizes a neighborhood. And there is also Regional Terrorism, like the South China Sea pirates who raid freighters and oil rigs, or any number of terrorist groups which fight against the established regime of their country. While they are a threat which needs attention, History shows that small-scale terrorist groups are impossible to wipe out altogether. That is, any individual group might be dissolved if a force focuses on them, but they are often small enough to escape serious attention.

Global Terrorism is more difficult to create and maintain, and it also represents a graver threat. The Palestine Liberation Organization is significant in this respect, because the PLO represents the first significant stand-alone Global Terrorist organization which has survived all attempts up to now to wipe it out. Small wonder Yassir Arafat made it such a priority to tie the PLO to the accepted role of the Palestinian Authority. Compare this to two noteworthy Global Terrorist groups of the past; the Hashishin and the Black Hand. The Hashishin were the infamous assassins for hire in the Middle East during the 11th through 13th Centuries, and the Black Hand were international terrorists active during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Both groups were wiped out when a group of nations formed a coalition and sent armed forces to destroy them. Most people are unaware that the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was in large part due to concern about Black Hand bombings against federal judges in the United States. When terrorist groups reach a threshold size and level of violence, the general response is a united determination to oppose them. the present war is the first front in just such a response.

(more to come in successive articles)

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