Ethics Articles

Articles: Terrorism


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Terror & Blasphemy: The evil behind the weekend synagogue bombings (NRO, 031118)

The War that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The battle is against militant Islam, not “Terror” (NRO, 040513)

Endgame: New campaigns, new strategies (NRO, 040518)

Traitors to Animal-Kind: A big cat in Palo Alto says much about the culture (NRO, 040521)





Terror & Blasphemy: The evil behind the weekend synagogue bombings (NRO, 031118)


Istanbul is a beautiful city sitting astride the Bosphorus. A sophisticated, tolerant city, it seamlessly mixes Occident and Orient. But now it has been stricken by the new cancer of our age: terrorism.


The attack on two Turkish synagogues is not just an instance of terrorism. It is the deliberate targeting of civilians nowhere near a war zone. And it reflects the virulent antisemitism that has despoiled our world for centuries.


It is hard for most people steeped in the humane, liberal values of Western Civilization to understand the massacre of innocents. To slaughter to make a political point. But terrorism is not likely to disappear.


Indeed, it is a surprisingly common practice. Although Americans were taken unaware on September 11, many other peoples have long suffered from the murderous attention of domestic and foreign terrorists.


The attacks on Israelis have been frequent, in Israel and around the world. And killings continue, deterred neither by war measures or peace processes.


Kurdish rebels used terrorism against the Turkish government. Urban leftist terrorists once bedeviled Germany and Italy. Ethnic and religious separatists have killed in Northern Ireland and Spain.


Terrorism was a tool of leftists fighting military regimes in South America. Communist guerrillas routinely bomb urban targets, such as bars and nightclubs, in Colombia.


Chechens kill in Moscow. In Algeria, terrorism was used against the French colonial overlords and continues today against the military-backed regime.


Tamils and Sikhs kill in India. Tamils also have routinely deployed terror against the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, making the former the most prolific suicide bombers on earth.


Russian revolutionaries once killed czars and czarist officials. A Serbian terrorist shot down the Austro-Hungarian royal heir and his wife, triggering World War I. No other murder in human history — except perhaps that of Julius Caesar — had such profound consequences.


Terrorism is common, and will persist, because it is a tool of the weak versus the strong, a cheap military weapon to achieve expensive political goals. As long as there are people willing to kill to advance their ends, there will be terrorists.


Awful but unsurprising are attacks on military targets, such as the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, the USS Cole on its visit to Yemen, and the Italian military-police headquarters in Iraq. Lacking the conventional weapons of war necessary to resist, opponents turn to the truck bomb. Horrific, careless of noncombatants, and brutally effective.


The Istanbul strikes — like those in Riyadh, Jakarta, Bali, and on the World Trade Center — take terrorism a step further. They are intended to kill noncombatants. The goal is not to resist foreign military power per se, but to murder and terrorize civilians. The willingness to kill, and kill indiscriminately, is expected to cow peoples and governments.


Yet the bombings of the two Turkish synagogues cap the murder of innocents with that age-old disease, antisemitism. It’s been around for centuries, mixing discrimination with persecution.


The early variants were practiced in the name of Christianity, a bizarre justification of what was in fact a murderous assault on the roots of Christianity itself. Without the Jew Jesus, there is no Christianity. There is certainly nothing in his message to justify the Spanish Inquisition, Russian pograms, or the polite social ostracism often practiced in Western Christian societies.


Today Christians, especially American evangelicals, have become among the strongest defenders of Judaism, even occasionally confusing support for Israelis against Palestinians with support for Jews against persecutors. Nevertheless, a Christian commitment to the life and dignity of all those created in God’s image is the strongest barrier possible to antisemitism: The most monstrous anti-Jewish attack ever, the Nazi Holocaust, grew out of a movement that assaulted authentic Christianity with the same fervor that it destroyed tolerant humanism.


That terrorists claim to kill people in the name of God may be the greatest sacrilege. The Abu-Hafs al-Masri Brigades, a group linked to al Qaeda, took credit for the Istanbul attacks: “The remaining operations are coming, God willing, and by God, Jews around the world will regret that their ancestors even thought about occupying the land of Muslims.”


What kind of God urges his people to kill other people gathered to worship him? What kind of God urges people to kill other people today because of what their ancestors did years, decades, and centuries before? What kind of God urges people to kill other people, made in his image and of transcendent worth, to advance ephemeral political ends?


What kind of God is this?


If this is not the God of Islam, Muslims must speak out. Not just Islamic politicians themselves under attack — in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, for instance. But clerics, imams, teachers, and ayatollahs. And common celebrants, those who regularly fill mosques for worship and daily drop to their prayer rugs.


Moreover, it is not enough to denounce attacks on Americans or Australians or Indonesians. It is necessary to denounce attacks on Jews. To say clearly that the God of Islam does not urge the children of Ishmael to murder the children of Isaac.


No one but the enemy gains from turning the war on terrorism into a war between civilizations. But it certainly is a war between the civilized and uncivilized. And after atrocities like that in Istanbul, it is essential that Muslims as well as Christians declare against antisemitism, the blasphemy that refuses to die.


— Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics.




The War that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The battle is against militant Islam, not “Terror” (NRO, 040513)


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is adapted from a speech given last month at the annual conference of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Critical Incident Analysis Group (CIAG). The theme of this year’s CIAG conference was “Countering Suicide Terrorism: Risks, Responsibilities and Realities.”


At any gathering of analysts, academics, and law-enforcement officers who specialize in counter-terrorism, it certainly is appropriate that we should focus on risks, responsibilities, and realities. My question, though, is whether we have the order backwards. Our most urgent imperative today is the need to confront reality. Only by doing that can we get a true understanding of the risks we face and our responsibilities in dealing with them.


What reality am I talking about?


Well, we are now well into the third year of what is called the “War on Terror.” That is the language we all use, and it is ubiquitous. The tabloids and the more prestigious journals of news and opinion fill their pages with it. The 24-hour cable television stations are not content merely to repeat “War on Terror” as if it were a mantra; they actually use it as a floating logo in their dizzying set designs.


Most significant of all, the “War on Terror” is our government’s top rhetorical catch-phrase. It is the way we define for the American people and the world — especially the Islamic world — what we are doing, and what we are about. It is the way we explain the nature of the menace that we are striving to defeat.


But is it accurate? Does it make sense? More importantly, does it serve our purposes? Does it make victory more identifiable, and hence more attainable? I humbly suggest that it fails on all these scores. This, furthermore, is no mere matter of rhetoric or semantics. It is all about substance, and it goes to the very core of our struggle.


Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a method. It is the most sinister, brutal, inhumane method of our age. But it is nonetheless just that: a method. You cannot, and you do not, make war on a method. War is made on an identified — and identifiable — enemy.


In the here and now, that enemy is militant Islam — a very particular practice and interpretation of a very particular set of religious, political and social principles.


Now that is a very disturbing, very discomfiting thing to say in 21st-century America. It is very judgmental. It sounds very insensitive. It is the very definition of politically incorrect. Saying it aloud will not get you invited to chat with Oprah. But it is a fact. And it is important both to say it and to understand it.


We have a rich and worthy tradition of religious tolerance in America. Indeed, in many ways our reverence for religious practice and tolerance is why there is an America. America was a deeply religious place long before it was ever a constitutional democracy. That tradition of tolerance causes us, admirably, to bend over backwards before we pass judgment on the religious beliefs and religious practices of others. It is an enormous part of what makes America great.


It led our government, within hours of the 9/11 attacks, to announce to the world that Islam was not and is not our enemy. Repeatedly, the president himself has said it: “The 19 suicide terrorists hijacked a great religion.” The message from all our top officials has been abundantly clear: “That’s that; Islam off the table; no need to go deeper.”


But we have the ostrich routine way too far. A commitment in favor of toleration is not the same as a commitment against examination. We have been so paralyzed by the fear of being portrayed as an enemy of Islam — as an enemy of a creed practiced by perhaps a billion people worldwide — that we’ve lost our voice on a very salient question: What will be the Islam of the 21st century? Will it be the Islam of the militants, or the Islam of the moderates? That’s the reality we need to grapple with.


Let’s make no mistake about this: We have a crucial national-security interest in the outcome of that struggle. We need the moderates to win. And here, when I speak of moderates, I am not talking about those who merely pay lip service to moderation. I am not talking about those who take advantage of America’s benign traditions and our reluctance to examine the religious practices of others. I am not talking about those who use that blind eye we turn as an opportunity to be apologists, enablers, and supporters of terrorists.


I am talking about authentic moderates: millions of Muslims who want an enlightened, tolerant, and engaged Islam for today’s world. Those people need our help in the worst way. They are losing the battles for their communities. The militants may not be a majority, but they are a vocal, aggressive minority — and they are not nearly as much of a small fringe as we’d like to believe.


As an assistant U.S. attorney, time and time again I heard it over the last decade, from ordinary Muslims we reached out to for help — people we wanted to hire as Arabic translators, or who were potential witnesses, or who were simply in a position to provide helpful information. People who were as far from being terrorists as you could possibly be. “I’d like to help the government,” they would say, “but I can’t.” And it was not so much about their safety — although there was, no doubt, some of that going on. It was about ostracism.


Repeatedly they’d tell us that the militant factions dominated their communities. These elements were usually not the most numerous, but they were the most vocal, the best networked, the best funded, and the most intimidating. Consequently, people whose patriotic instinct was to be helpful could not overcome the fear that they and their families could be blackballed if it became known that they had helped the United States prosecute Muslim terrorists. The militants had the kind of suasion that could turn whole communities into captive audiences.


This is no small matter. Events of the last decade, throughout the world, are a powerful lesson that the more insular and dominated communities become, the more they are likely to breed the attitudes and pathologies that lead to terrorist plots and suicide bombings. It’s true that suicide bombers seem to defy precise psychological profiling; they come from diverse economic and educational backgrounds — the only common thread seems to be devotion to militant Islam. But while we have not had success predicting who is likely to become a suicide bomber, it is far easier to get a read on where suicide bombers and other terrorists will come from. They come from communities where the militants dominate and those who don’t accept their beliefs are cowed into submission.



That militant Islam is our enemy is a fact. That it is the object of our war is a fact. That we need to empower real moderates is a fact. And we need to talk about these facts.


We are not helping the authentic moderates if we avoid having the conversation that so needs to be had if the militants hiding in the weeds we’ve created are going to be exposed and marginalized. If we fail to be critical, if we fail to provoke that discussion, it will continue to be militants who hold positions of influence and who control indoctrination in communities, madrassas, prisons, and other settings where the young, the vulnerable, and the alienated are searching for direction.


For ourselves too, and for the success of our struggle, we need to be clear that the enemy here is militant Islam. If we are to appreciate the risks to our way of life, and our responsibilities in dealing with them, we need to understand that we are fighting a religious, political and social belief system — not a method of attack, but a comprehensive ideology that calls for a comprehensive response.


In the 1990s, our response, far from being comprehensive, was one-dimensional. We used the criminal justice system. As an individual, I am very proud to have been associated with the good work done in that effort. Yet, if we are going to be honest with ourselves — if we are truly going to confront reality — as a nation, we’d have to call it largely a failure.


We have learned over the years that the militant population is large — maybe tens of thousands, maybe more. Certainly enough to staff an extensive international network and field numerous cells and small battalions that, in the aggregate, form a challenging military force. Nevertheless, in about a half dozen major prosecutions between 1993 and 2001, we managed to neutralize less than three-dozen terrorists — the 1993 World Trade Center bombers; those who plotted an even more ghastly “Day of Terror” that would have destroyed several New York City landmarks; the Manila Air conspirators who tried to blow U.S. airliners out of the sky over the Pacific; those who succeeded in obliterating our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and the would-be bombers of Los Angeles International Airport who were thwarted just before the Millennium celebration.


In these cases, we saw the criminal-justice response at its most aggressive, operating at a very high rate of success. Every single defendant who was charged and tried was convicted. As a practical matter, however, even with that rate of efficiency, we were able to neutralize only a tiny portion of the terrorist population.


Now, however, combining law enforcement with the more muscular use of military force — the way we have fought the battle since September 11 — we are far more effective. Terrorists are being rolled up in much greater numbers. They are being captured and killed. Instead of dozens being neutralized, the numbers are now in the hundreds and thousands.


But I respectfully suggest that this is still not enough, because it doesn’t necessarily mean we are winning.



When I was a prosecutor in the 1980s, it was the “War on Drugs” that was all the rage. We would do mega-cases, make mega-arrests, and seize mega-loads of cocaine and heroin. It made for terrific headlines. It looked great on television. But we weren’t winning. Neighborhoods were still rife with narcotics traffickers and all their attendant depravity. And there was the tell-tale sign: The price of drugs kept going down instead of up. We said we were at war, but with all we were doing we were still failing to choke off the supply chain.


Now I see another version of the same syndrome, and if we don’t talk about Islam we will remain blind to it — to our great detriment. To understand why, all we need to do is think for a moment about the cradle-to-grave philosophy of Hamas. Yes, what blares on the news are suicide bombings that slaughter scores of innocents. But look underneath them, at what Hamas is doing day-to-day. They don’t just run paramilitary training for adult jihadists. They start from the moment of birth. From infancy, hatred is taught to children. They learn to hate before they ever have a clue about what all the hatred is over. At home, in mosques, in madrassas, in summer camps — dressed in battle fatigues and hoods, and armed with mock weapons — it is fed to them.


And Hamas is not nearly alone. A funding spigot has been wide open for years. We are better about trying to shut it down than we used to be, but we’re not even close to efficient yet. And even if we were to shut it down tomorrow, there are hundreds of millions — maybe more — already in the pipeline. Dollars that are contributed and controlled by the worst Wahhabist and Salafist elements. Those dollars are funding hatred. Hatred and the demonization of human beings simply because of who they are.


Some suggest that our situation might benefit from making accommodations — policy concessions that might mollify the militants and miraculously change their attitude toward us. But let’s think about a five-year-old Muslim boy who has already gotten a sizable dose of the venom that is found in the madrassas and the Arabic media.


I can assure you that that five-year-old kid does not hate American foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. He does not hate the intractable nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What he hates is Jews. What he hates is Americans. It is in the water he drinks and the air he breathes. Sure, as he grows, he’ll eventually be taught to hate American foreign policy and what he’ll forever be told is the “Israeli occupation.” But those abstractions are not the source of the child’s hatred, and changing them won’t make the hatred go away — the hatred that fuels the killing.


When I say I worry that we could lose this struggle against militant Islam that we keep calling the “War on Terror,” it is that fuel and that hatred I am talking about. We have the world’s most powerful, competent military — it can capture and kill large numbers of terrorists. With the help of our law-enforcement and intelligence agencies — especially cutting off funding and cracking down on other kinds of material support — our unified government can make a sizable dent in the problem. It can give us periods like the last two years when there have been no successful attacks on our homeland — although it is hard to take too much comfort in that once you look at Bali, or Casablanca, or Istanbul, or Baghdad, or Madrid.


Yes, we can have temporary, uneasy respites from the struggle. We cannot win, however, until we can honestly say we are turning the tide of the numbers. The madrassas are like conveyor belts. If they are churning out more militants in waiting than we are capturing, killing, prosecuting, or otherwise neutralizing, then we are losing this war.


It’s not enough to deplete the militants’ assets. We need to defeat their ideas, and that means marginalizing their leaders. That means talking about how Islam assimilates to American ideals and traditions. It means making people take clear positions: making them stand up and be counted — and be accountable — not letting them hide under murky labels like “moderate”.


As far as recognizing what we’re really up against here, the terrorism prosecutions of the 1990s were a powerful eye-opener. We saw up close who the enemy was and why it was so crucial to be clear about it. Those cases are generally thought to have begun with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — a horror that oddly seems mild compared to the carnage we’ve witnessed in over a decade since. Yet, while that attack — the militants’ declaration of war — began the string of terrorism cases, it was not really the start of the story.


That actually began years earlier. The men who carried out the World Trade Center bombing spent years training for it, mostly in rural outposts remote from Manhattan — like Calverton, Long Island, western Pennsylvania, and northern Connecticut. There, they drilled in shooting, hand-to-hand combat, and improvised explosive devices. From about 1988 on, they were operating here, and saw themselves as a committed jihad army in the making.


They were fully convinced that their religion compelled them to brutality. And unlike us, they had no queasiness: They were absolutely clear about who their enemy was. They did not talk in jingos about the “War on Freedom,” or the “War on Liberty.” They talked about the War on America, the War on Israel, and the War on West. They were plainspoken about whom they sought to defeat and why.


Their leader was a blind Egyptian cleric named Omar Abdel Rahman, the emir of an international terrorist organization called the “Islamic Group.” This was a precursor of al Qaeda, responsible for the infamous 1981murder of Anwar Sadat for the great crime of making peace with Israel. Abdel Rahman continues to this day to have a profound influence on Osama bin Laden; his sons have been linked to al Qaeda, and one of bin Laden’s demands continues to be that America free the “Blind Sheikh,” who is now serving a life sentence.


Abdel Rahman laid out the principles of his terror group — including its American division — with alarming clarity: Authority to rule did not come from the people who are governed; it came only from Allah — a God who, in Abdel Rahman’s depiction, was not a God of mercy and forgiveness, but a God of wrath and vengeance, and a God single-mindedly consumed with the events of this world. For the Blind Sheikh and his cohorts, there would be no toleration for other religions or other views. There was militant Islam, and there was everybody else.


All the world was divided into two spheres — and it is very interesting how those spheres were referred to: the first was Dar al Islam, or the domain of the Muslims; the second was Dar al Harb. You might assume that Dar al Harb would be the domain of the non-Muslims. It is not. It is instead the domain of war. The militants perceive themselves as in a constant state of war with those who do not accept their worldview.


Sometimes that war is hot and active. Sometimes it is in recess while the militants take what they can get in negotiations and catch their breath for the next rounds of violence. But don’t be fooled: the war never ends — unless and until all the world accepts their construction of Islam.


As Abdel Rahman taught his adherents — and as the bin Ladens, the Zawahiris, and the Zarqawis echo today — the manner of prosecuting the never-ending war is jihad. This word is often translated as holy war; it more closely means struggle.


We hear a lot today from the mainstream media about jihad. Usually, it’s a happy-face jihad, congenially rendered as “the internal struggle to become a better person,” or “the struggle of communities to drive out drug peddlers,” or “the struggle against disease, poverty and ignorance.” In many ways, these reflect admirable efforts to reconstruct a very troubling concept, with an eye toward an Islam that blends into the modern world.


But let’s be clear: these are reconstructions. Jihad, in its seventh-century origins, is a forcible, military concept. I realize politesse frowns on saying such things out loud, but one of the main reasons it is so difficult to discredit the militants — to say convincingly that they have hijacked a peaceable religion — is this: when they talk about this central tenet, jihad, as a duty to take up arms, they have history and tradition on their side. As Abdel-Rahman, the influential scholar with a doctorate from the famed al-Azhar University in Egypt, instructed his followers: “There is no such thing as commerce, industry, and science in jihad.... If Allah says: ‘Do jihad,’ it means jihad with the sword, with the cannon, with the grenades, and with the missile. This is jihad. Jihad against God’s enemies for God’s cause and his word.”


So rich is the military pedigree of this term, jihad, that many of the apologists concede it but try a different tack to explain it away: “Sure, jihad means using force,” they say, “but only in defense — only when Muslims are under attack.” Of course, who is to say what is defensive? Who is to say when Muslims are under attack? For the militants, Islam is under attack whenever anyone has the temerity to say: “Islam — especially their brand of Islam — is not for me.” For the militants who will be satisfied with nothing less than the destruction of Israel, Islam is under attack simply because Israelis are living and breathing and going about their lives.


Simply stated, for Abdel Rahman, bin Laden, and those who follow them, jihad means killing the enemies of the militants — which is pretty much anyone who is not a militant. When your forces are outnumbered, and your resources are scarce, it means practicing terrorism.


Abdel Rahman was brazen about it. As he said many times:


Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We have been ordered to terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of God. The Quran says the word “to strike terror.” Therefore, we don’t fear to be called terrorists. They may say, “He is a terrorist. He uses violence. He uses force.” Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.


It is frightening. But, as this makes clear, it is not simply the militants’ method that we are at war with. We are at war with their ideology. Militant Islam has universalist designs. That sounds crazy to us — we’re from a diverse, tolerant, live-and-let-live culture. It’s hard for us to wrap our brains around a hegemonic worldview in the 21st Century. But if we are going to appreciate the risk — the threat — we face, the reality is: it matters much less what we think about the militants than what they think about themselves.


The militants see terrorism as a perfectly acceptable way to go about achieving their aims. When they succeed in destroying great, towering symbols of economic and military might; when with a few cheap bombs detonated on trains they can change the course of a national election; it reinforces their convictions that their designs are neither grandiose nor unattainable. It tells them that their method of choice works, no matter what we may think of it.


Making our task even more difficult is the structure of Islam. As Bernard Lewis and other notable scholars have observed, there are no synods, and there is no rigorous hierarchy. There is no central power structure to say with authority that this or that practice is heresy. There is no pope available to say, “Sheik Omar, blowing up civilians is out of bounds. It is condemned.”


So how does the conduct become condemned? How do we turn the tide? Naturally, only Muslims themselves can cure Islam. Only they can ultimately chart their course; only they can clarify and reform where reform is so badly needed.


There is much, however, that we can do to help. It starts with ending the free ride for the apologists and enablers of terrorists. We need to be more precise in our language. We are not at war with terror. We are at war with militant Islam. Militant Islam is our enemy. It seeks to destroy us; we cannot co-exist with it. We need to defeat it utterly.


We seek to embrace moderate Muslims; to promote them, and to help them win the struggle for what kind of religious, cultural and social force Islam will be in the modern world. “Moderate,” however, cannot just be a fudge. It needs to be a real concept with a defined meaning.


What should that meaning be? Who are we trying to weed out? Well, last year, the distinguished Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes proposed a few questions — a litmus test of sorts. Useful questions, he said, might include: Do you condone or condemn those who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn the likes of al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah by name as terrorist groups? Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today’s world? Do you accept the validity of other religions? Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims? Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam? Who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks? Do you accept that institutions that fund terrorism should be shut down?


To be sure, we should have no illusions about all this. We are never going to win every heart and mind. Asking these questions and questions like them, though, would provoke a very necessary conversation. It could begin to reveal who are the real moderates, and who are the pretenders. It could begin to identify who are the friends of enlightenment and tolerance, and who are the allies of brutality and inhumanity. It could begin the long road toward empowering our friends and marginalizing our enemies. Finally, it could make the War on Militant Islam a war we can win — for ourselves and for the millions of Muslims who need our help.


— Andrew C. McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others, is an NRO contributor.




Endgame: New campaigns, new strategies (NRO, 040518)


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a four-part series of exerpts from Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror, by Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely.


It would be folly for the United States and its allies to wait for the results of the 2004 presidential and congressional elections before they lay out a comprehensive strategy against the Web of Terror. The terrorists will not wait until January 20, 2005, and neither should we.


Our grand strategic goal is quite simple: to ensure the security of the United States by thoroughly defeating the Web of Terror. That means drying up the sources of weapons, funding, and manpower for terrorist groups, and denying them territorial sanctuaries. It means stopping nuclear proliferation and dismantling the WMD development programs and weapons stockpiles of rogue states. It means encouraging the spread of democracy in the Muslim world. And it means resolving the Palestinian question in a fair and equitable manner between two democratic entities — the State of Israel and a reformed Palestinian Authority.


We cannot wait to achieve these goals or expect that these changes will happen of their own volition. In some cases, achieving these goals will mean overthrowing regimes, as we did with the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, though the means by which we do so might vary. A case in point could be Iran. Even if Iran officially ends its nuclear weapons development program, it is doubtful that the mullahs will cease arming, training, and funding terror groups around the world. The only serious question remaining, therefore, is how to achieve regime change in Iran, and whether that will be done through support for the growing domestic resistance to the mullahs, diplomatic pressure, military force, or some combination of the three. In other cases, we will have to engage in regime preservation, helping governments secure themselves against Islamist violence so that eventual democratic reform is possible. Nuclear-armed Pakistan, for example, could fall to an Islamist military coup or become a bloody battleground between religious sects, secularists, and foreign jihadists. Pakistan’s government, for the long-term benefit of all (except the jihadists), needs democratic reform, but not before it neutralizes the domestic Islamist threat.


The first key concept is the need to press at utmost speed the war on terror to achieve regime change throughout the Web of Terror- supporting states. Another key concept is preemption. President Bush was right to make this a strategic principle of his administration. Preemption’s purpose is to put teeth behind the idea that certain actions are utterly unacceptable. Thumb your nose at UN weapons inspectors, and the United States will not risk that it can trust you; it will, in fact, enforce UN threats that the UN itself won’t enforce. Sell or transfer nuclear weapons and their delivery systems — cruise missiles and ICBMs — to rogue states or terrorist groups, and America will stop you, by force if necessary. It would be folly to let inaction lead to nuclear proliferation, to wait until a nuclear weapon falls into the hands of al-Qaeda or detonates in New York or London, before we act in our own defense.


Another key concept is simultaneity. We simply do not have the time to take a sequential approach: first Afghanistan, then Iraq, perhaps next North Korea, and so on. Every strand in the Web of Terror needs to be snipped — now. Thankfully, work is being done on many fronts. However, it is not enough and it is not being done anywhere near fast enough. What follows next are the campaigns that must be won.



The key to achieving lasting success in Afghanistan is establishing its security. As the country’s interim president, Hamid Karzai, admitted when he addressed the British Labour Party’s annual conference in October 2003, less than half the country is under the rule of law. Though the Afghans have a completed constitution, plans for democratic elections, and an education system again open to women, the establishment of a fully functioning civil society is years in the future. According to some estimates, there are 100,000 fighters under the command of provincial leaders and regional warlords — and rivalries between them remain strong. The followers of these leaders and warlords don’t just have AK-47 assault rifles, they have tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery — and some of these weapons are placed near Kabul.


To defuse this volatile situation, President Karzai included a section in the Law of Political Parties, decreed in the fall of 2003, stating that political parties could not have military organizations affiliated with them. In addition, he was able to negotiate an agreement among the militias and other armed factions to abide by the terms of the United Nations’ disarmament plan.


This is fine on paper, but for the disarmament plan to make any sense, the Afghan national army must be of sufficient size and skill to take over the security duties that the warlords’ militias now provide to local populations. Creating a conventional army out of whole cloth is a difficult task at any time; doing so while the Taliban and al-Qaeda are attempting to regain power will make the process in Afghanistan even more challenging. Moreover, we are not sure that we want all of these groups disarmed as quickly as some wish. In the fight against the Taliban and other jihadists in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the militias are as invaluable today as they were in the 2001 campaign that drove out the Taliban and al-Qaeda. To disarm and disband them in the absence of a force that can take their place would be tantamount to granting Mullah Omar a foothold in the country.


The resurgence of the Taliban is what worries us most. In the fall of 2003, the Taliban began trying to make good on its public threat to take over the country by attacking NATO forces and killing aid workers. The Taliban and al-Qaeda also have taken their activities in the “tribal” territories of Pakistan, the areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to include the cities of Peshawar and Quetta.


Pakistan must act — assisted by coalition forces on the Afghan side of the border — to eliminate this al-Qaeda and Taliban presence. Destroying the Taliban and al-Qaeda would remove the greatest threat not only to Afghanistan but to the Pakistani government as well. Pakistan’s intelligence service helped create the Taliban and see it into power. Now the Taliban is a potential threat to the Pakistani government in a country where radical Islam has a deep reservoir of public support.


At present, the United States has approximately 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, and along with fighting the terrorists, our government is committed to a necessary program of domestic improvements throughout the country. Currently, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are developing the areas outside of Kabul. Led by Americans, Germans, and workers from other NATO countries, the PRTs are proving to be very effective at planning, developing, and executing the reconstruction projects aimed at improving infrastructure, establishing schools, and restoring legitimate agriculture to attract some farmers away from growing opium poppies. Their operations as well as those of various aid agencies must be expanded — and protected — throughout the country. The Afghans must come to believe that the government in Kabul and its international allies are offering Afghanistan a better future. The key to ensuring a stable, peaceful Afghanistan is to stay the course. Allowing Afghanistan’s economic and political development to languish and its security system to deteriorate would be to recreate the conditions that led to the establishment of the Taliban regime. We will likely be in Afghanistan, assisting in its development, for another ten to twenty years. But to defeat terrorism, we have no choice.


The force level we need to maintain in Afghanistan is relatively small, the duties in the long term, relatively easy. The fact that we will be keeping troops in Afghanistan (and other countries) for decades is not to say that the Web of Terror can’t be defeated quickly. We defeated the Axis powers within four years of our entry into World War II — and yet we still have troops in German and Japan, sixty years later. So too in the war against terror we must act with a swift sword, as we did in Afghanistan, while recognizing that a longer-term military presence in the country is a necessary burden, and not an intolerable one.


— Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney retired from the U.S. Air Force as assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force and director for the Defense Performance Review. Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely retired from the U.S. Army as deputy commanding general, Pacific, and is the senior military analyst for FOX News Channel.




Traitors to Animal-Kind: A big cat in Palo Alto says much about the culture (NRO, 040521)


Dangerous cats, like most dangers, are uncommon in mellow, affluent Palo Alto, California. Then two horses were attacked by a mountain lion near the Stanford campus earlier this month. Stanford University’s response to this assault was decisive and emphatic: Jeff Wachtel, Senior Assistant to Stanford’s president, immediately announced that no firearms could be used to capture or kill the creature, citing concerns about public safety. Nothing would actually be done to capture the panther.


Following the horse-slaying, the cat apparently worked its way up creek channels into residential Palo Alto, and rumors of its arrival followed. A professor I know correctly instructed his children that, should they encounter the beast, they should shout and raise their arms over their heads to look big, in order to frighten it off. His concern was appropriate: Mountain lions, though rare, have killed at least six Californians over the past 114 years and mauled eight more.


On Monday, Palo Alto police tracked the mountain lion to a tree on Walnut Drive. According to a grim video report by area TV station KPIX, police considered using a tranquilizer dart, but decided against it because local elementary schools would soon release their students, and darts might take 20 to 30 minutes to knock the animal out. So an officer aimed her rifle at the mountain lion’s heart. The sleeping cat stirred, and the officer fired. It tumbled through the tree past a child’s swing, ran behind a hedge, crossed a driveway, and lay down to die amid some cactus and lavender.


That is quite a bit of excitement for these parts, and it is not surprising that it has generated some headlines. What is surprising is the way a wildlife-control operation unleashed such a torrent of moralizing and outrage. Second-guessing and recriminations began immediately. KPIX showed a video of the shooting to Alfredo Kuba, a member of a group called In Defense of Animals. “I think it’s absolutely atrocious the way the police behaved,” Kuba told them. “Obviously the animal was not posing a threat to anyone. It was in a tree.”


Meanwhile, the Palo Alto Daily News headlined Wednesday’s paper with “Lion’s Killing Sparks Furor.” It included a picture of flowers and written tributes left at the base of the tree, including this eulogy: “Your death will not be in vain. Tears are shed for you, and this brutality will inspire ACTION. You are loved.” (This was not the only written message directed to a specific animal in connection to this incident. The San Jose Mercury News reported that the owners of Kelsey, the Labrador retriever who chased the cougar up a tree, received an e-mail calling their dog a “traitor to animal-kind.”)


The letters page of the Daily News carried four notes condemning the shooting. A letter asked where the “backup plan” was to prevent the suffering of the dying animal. Another from a South African biology student faulted the “trigger-happy”, “incompetent” police for not packing adequate firepower, and noted that the lion was not a threat because it was chased up a tree by a dog. Another allowed that, had the cat been “alert and aggressively approaching something or someone, then shooting the animal might have been the only option,” but insisted there had been time for “trained professionals to be brought in.”


A fourth letter — by Robert More of Palo Alto — compared the shooting of the mountain lion to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and found both unnecessary. “It seems to me that what is potentially dangerous is the attitude that we need to annihilate anything determined to be potentially dangerous.”


I disagree with More’s conclusions, but we both draw the same analogy from this situation: There are underlying cultural ideas at work that inform both reactions to the cougar’s shooting, and to the war in Iraq. It is not a perfect analogy: The young cougar was a genuinely beautiful creature and its death is regrettable, while Saddam Hussein’s regime was a hellish travesty of government mourned only by the deluded and the complicit. Nevertheless, these (over)reactions to the cougar’s demise stem from some of the same ideas that drive opposition to the current worldwide war against terrorism. Whether on the local scale of a dangerous predator loose in the neighborhood, or on the grand scale of rogue states that sponsor terror and proliferate weapons, many of the same ideas about the legitimate uses of force shine through.


Idea #1: Weapons are bad, and taint those who use them.


The comment that “trained professionals” should have handled the situation ignores the fact the officer who killed the mountain lion was herself a trained professional, not some jackleg vigilante. There is a notion shared throughout these letters and comments that the force used was excessive, and that a tranquilizer gun should have been employed. But tranquilizer guns are not instantaneously effective, and they are not standard issue. There was no non-lethal option at hand that could neutralize the threat quickly. The officer on the scene could have stood there wishing for such a device, but instead she did her job with the best tools and judgment at her disposal.


In the right hands, tools like that rifle make civilization possible. Without them, we’d be up to our navels in mountain lions, or worse; and we’d have no time for civilized pursuits like writing panegyrics to feline martyrs and e-mailing canine traitors.


On an international scale, weapons under the command of a competent and disciplined military are especially good for deterring human threats, because humans are social animals that can occasionally learn from others’ experiences. An excellent example of this sort of behavior is Muammar Qaddafi’s relinquishing of Libya’s WMD programs. After seeing how dictatorial regimes like Taliban Afghanistan, Saddam’s Iraq, and Charles Taylor’s (remember him?) Liberia fared against American resolve, Qaddafi folded, without a shot being fired. This example is antithetical, however, to the blue-state mantra that violence absolutely never solves anything.


Idea #2: We had it coming.


What do you expect, when development expands relentlessly into the habitats of wild creatures? Each new house and road and parking lot destroys more habitat area, and then the creatures have nowhere to go. We have two choices: somehow stop the expansion of civilization, or learn to live with bears rifling through our garbage, deer crashing through our windshields, and mountain lions carrying off the occasional cyclist. A third option, resisting these incursions, would be immoral, since we are all complicit in prosperity’s depredations and the animals don’t know any better.


The same principle is writ large in the opposition to the war on terror. Western success, according to anarchist philosopher Franz Fanon, rests on slavery and oppression — an idea shared by both the American and European Left, and the terrorists. So what do you expect when unjust Western prosperity establishes a toehold? It causes an inevitable reaction, in the form of terrorism. This principle assumes that, like wild animals, potential terrorists are utterly incapable of exercising the restraint we demand of ourselves. This idea is dreadfully condescending, of course, as well as wrong: See Qaddafi, above.


Idea #3: Treed animals don’t pose a threat. And Saddam was up a tree.


Nice theory — but in fact, threatened, cornered, or wounded animals are at their most desperate and dangerous.


Saddam was boxed in, all right. The problem was that the population of Iraq was boxed in with him, and paying a terrible price for our forbearance. And the other problem is that through the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food program, through payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and through relationships with terrorists like Abu Abbas, Abu Musad Al-Zarqawi, and possibly even Mohammed Atta, Saddam continued to threaten and corrupt the world.


Idea #4: A deadly attack must be imminent to justify deadly force.


In criminal law, this statement is strictly true. But when dealing with rogue nations or terrorist groups seeking WMDs, just as against stealthy predators in the neighborhood sizing up the schoolchildren, imminent is far too late. As President Bush put it in his 2003 State of the Union address, “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?”


Considering this list of reasons shows how simplistic and wrong it is to accuse the antiwar left of cowardice. In fact, they are quite brave — I would even say reckless — to bear the risks of predatory felines and predatory states so cheerfully (if, that is, they truly understand the risks.) But that bravery is simply the logical outcome of these deeply held, deeply flawed principles that deem effective resistance to be immoral. Stoic resignation is the only option left to them.


I, on the other hand, remain an unabashed coward. Hungry cougars, sarin-spewing terrorists, nukemongering dictators — I lack the courage and the intellectual agility required to keep on ignoring them. Threats to civilization must be confronted, with deadly force when necessary. Waving our arms around, shouting, and trying to look big is no way to go through life.


— Clinton W. Taylor is a lawyer and a Ph.D. student in political science at Stanford.