July 15, 2005

What emboldens the terrorists.

Normblog points to this Tony Parkinson column that soundly responds those who say that without Blair's alliance with Bush in Iraq the London bombings would never have happen. You should read it. It is well-argued -- especially this:
Chasing American forces out of Somalia in 1993 was held up as one of the first, great victories for the new wave of radical Islam. In the myth-making of the Middle East, it allowed the West to be portrayed as weak and irresolute.

To that extent, President Bill Clinton made the same strategic error as Ronald Reagan a decade earlier when American forces were pulled out of Lebanon after a massive Hezbollah suicide attack on US barracks in Beirut. It reinforced the idea that democratic societies didn't have the stomach to counter this vicious style of asymmetrical warfare.

For the same reason, Iraq today represents a critical test of will.

A mindset that can target innocent tube travellers in London is the same mindset that can dispatch a suicide bomber to kill 24 Iraqi children as they accept sweets from US forces in a Baghdad neighbourhood . . . or, indeed, force a Kuwaiti woman to eat her own flesh.

Conceding strategic victories to this mindset will not protect a single innocent life, in Iraq, the West or elsewhere. More likely, it will embolden those behind these acts of savagery.

I have never heard anything from the anti-war side that comes anywhere near responding to this.


Goesh said...

well said

Pastor_Jeff said...

We also have to add Bush 41 and the Gulf War. We won a military victory, but left the regime in place, once again showing that all you have to do is hold out long enough and eventually the Americans will either tire of body counts or get bored and go home.

knoxgirl said...

Generally speaking, I have found that most of those against the war simply don't make--or see--meaningful connections between the terrorist incidents and events such as Black Hawk Down that have taken place in the last 30 years.

It's as if history started over when the Iraq war began... it is the nexus of all evil in the universe, if it were stopped, everything would be ok.

Similarly, there is an effort to isolate the atrocities perpetrated by Saddam's regime from those used by terrorist groups and to make them mutually exclusive and unconnected. Again, as if Saddam were really no problem, if we had just ignored him, everything would be ok.

I too, am waiting for a reasonable response to the argument that terrorists will be emboldened, not appeased, by withdrawing.

Pastor_Jeff said...

John Howard gets it right:

MAXINE McKEW: Prime Minister, if as you say you can't rule out that possibility that we could have potential bombers right here in Australia, what if today's announcement, this redeployment to Afghanistan and our continued presence in Iraq is all the provocation they need?

JOHN HOWARD: Maxine, these people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologising for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.

(h/t:Prof. Reynolds)

DirtCrashr said...

As Knoxgirl said re; most of those against the war simply don't make--or see--meaningful connections between the terrorist incidents and events such as Black Hawk Down that have taken place in the last 30 years.
The ones I know who do see and attempt a connection, go on a rant second-guessing U.S. foreign policy post WWII: from Israel to Vietnam, from Cuba to Chile to Nicaragua and Palestine and to the present, saying we created all the world's monsters. Throw in each and every conflict and hardship-event in recent human history, including West Pakistan-East Pakistan/India war that produced Bangladesh (we sent an aircraft-carrier into the Bay of Bengal) and then add the Kyoto Treaty - good-Lord, sometimes it's hard to listen to my parents...

olivia1 said...

Thank you for sharing John Howard's words...he really gets to the point.
Sometimes I wonder why the people who don't understand why Sadam was a threat we had to deal with don't use a little common sense and life knowledge. Here we have a guy who was obviously a meglo-maniac and a ruthless bully who no doubt loved his reputation as the "baddest" guy on the block. Then Osama comes along and pulls off the biggest coup of all against the only force that humiliated Saddam.So now all of Saddam's minions are elevating Osama to the "baddest" guy pedestal. Anyone who has a remote clue about human nature has to agree that Saddam would do about anything to regain his most vicious,most feared top dog stautus. Then factor in he had all the ill gotten Oil for Food money and good lord, who can't connect those dots.It is dismaying and profoundly disturbing that so many willfully choose not to use common sense and activate that self preservation instinct.
And to dirtcrashr....that must be really difficult to have your parents feel the opposite way on this important subject. I thought as we got older, we were supposed to be wiser. Sounds like it's flip-flopped for you.

peter hoh said...

Plain and simple, these terrorists don't need provocation. They, in fact, seem to have been trying to provoke the west into engaging in a long, protracted war. A war they think they can win -- not perhaps by tactics, but by the strategy of wearing down the opponent.

I agree with Parkinson's thinking. This is an important test of will. While I am critical of the Bush administration for its poor planning for the post-war phase, we have too much at stake to walk away before the job is done.

Parkinson leaves out an earlier victory for radical Islam: chasing the Soviets out of Afghanistan. That was done, like Somalia, without targeting civilians of the country whose soldiers they were fighting.

In the current campaign, al-Qaeda seems to have used terror to first provoke the Americans, and then to isolate the Americans. The attacks in Spain, for instance, were an attempt to turn public sentiment against being part of the coalition. The attacks on Australians (in Bali) also seems to fit that pattern, as well, though they did not achieve the same results.

I'll concede that al-Qaeda isn't like most groups who have used terror in the past century, but did any of those groups get what they were after? The IRA, Basque separatists, various Palestinian groups, the Shining Path, the Baader-Meinhof Group. None of them seem to have succeeded at anything other than gaining noteriety.

It's worth figuring out why those groups failed and why most of them got quieter or ceased operations. I'll bet that al-Qaeda has already asked these questions.

cobra verde said...

How does the mindset that can blow up innocent Iraqi children differ much from the mindset that can drop napalm on innocent Vietnamese children, or leave several hundred thousand tons of unexploded ordinace spread across Laos (which was never an official target) without bothering to help clean it up? Take a look at Handicap International statistics about who and how many people are still getting maimed by that today. We are no less guilty of mutilating and maiming innocents on a far greater scale.

Ravi said...

> Here we have a guy who was obviously a meglo-maniac and a ruthless bully who no doubt loved his reputation as the "baddest" guy on the block.

You're obviously talking about Bush, right?

What a circle jerk. Can anyone here imagine for an instance that perhaps the US is perceived as a terrorist state from elsewhere in the world? Just think Vietnam alone.

Terrorism is being used to join parties that do not intrinsically belong together. Freedom fighters are being called terrorists. The word has deluded terrified Americans into thinking everyone is against when in fact we are the one country in the world that has immeasurable power over every other nation. But conservatives are just playing a victim game here, as usual.

3,000+ killed in 9/11. How many tens of thousands killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? At what point are we even?

vhsiv said...

> For the same reason, Iraq today represents a critical test of will.

'A critical test of will'? Because it's the first time in over 60 years since we've invaded another sovereign nation? The last time it was WWII - this time it was on 'disassembly' and cooked-up evidence.

That's a great way to win hearts and minds - with lies - no?

gt said...

Clinton was wrong to be using helicopter gunships to massacre tribal elders in Somalia. The Black Hawk Down incident led him to rethink this policy. Does that look like weakness? Maybe, and I'm not sure how to deal with that problem. It was not primarily islamicists who were resisting Clinton in Somalia - it was mostly neighborhood citizen militias.
BHD reminded me a bit of Cat Chaser, a movie about neighborhood citizen militias resisting LBJ's 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic. That probably wasn't islam-inspired either.