Thursday, September 28, 2006

Resisting Terrorism

Well, if we’re going to resist terrorism effectively right now, how do we go about it? A few thoughts:

Keep our eye on the ball

I’ve made it pretty clear I think the way our leaders are selling the ‘war on terror’ is hysterical nonsense so I won’t go back over that ground. But we do have a real danger on our hands that requires serious attention. Unfortunately, Iraq distracted us from the task at hand and made the problem worse.

The primary focus should be on pursuing terrorists. That sounds obvious but we haven't made it our top priority. That means coordinating police, intelligence, and military sectors around the world to go after individuals and cells and not starting wars with countries previously unrelated to Islamic terrorism. I think that kind of relentless and coordinated police work will be necessary for many decades. Some good progress has been made here but not nearly enough because so many resources have been diverted into Iraq. Actually, I think losing the whole term ‘war on terror’ would help focus people on the real task, which is a long term police and intelligence effort against potential terrorists. But of course, that wouldn’t help Rove do his thing nearly as much :^)

Then you’ve got to secure ports of entry like airports, seaports, etc. We’ve made some progress but much less than we should have by this point, particularly with seaports and crucial infrastructure.

And finally, and most important, securing available nuclear materials is critical. Astonishingly, we haven't done much of that in the past 6 years. We’re all worked up about Iran but have done relatively little to secure Russia’s massive leftover nuclear materials. Again, we’ve taken our eye off the ball.

Stick it out in Iraq for a couple more years and give the Iraqi forces a chance to adequately handle their own self-defense.

I’m very sympathetic to those that think we should remove our troops immediately and think they’ve got an excellent point. Our very presence there creates much of the problem and inflames jihadi sentiment all over the Islamic world.

But sometimes you're stuck without a good choice.

Hanging in there and giving the government and the security forces a chance to stabilize is the least bad option in my mind. To withdraw troops now would ensure an even more robust civil war than the one already going on. And even though I think Iraq is probably going to end up as a terrorist haven whatever we do at this point, immediate withdrawal would make that a certainty. It’s frustrating to have to agree with the people who created the entire mess in the first place and made it near hopeless, but we’ve got to give it a couple of more years.

Get a new administration as soon as possible

Only two more years to go :^) I’m actually very serious about this. Less tone deafness and a more diplomatic approach would help a lot. Much of the current anti-Americanism is actually anti-Bushism. I believe when he and his gang leave office hostility in the Islamic world will decrease noticeably. Maybe Democrats will get control of Congress and impeach him. Don’t think that would be good for the country but it would sure help drain some of the swamp of hostile anti-American sentiment.

Invest much more heavily in development in Afghanistan

Two of our top generals testified before Congress last week that Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming a “narco-terror” state once again. Newsweek this week did a great spread on the reconquest of Afghanistan (“Jihadistan”) by war lords and the Taliban. The reality is we abandoned the development of Afghanistan with predictable results. Again, Iraq caused us to take our eye off the ball.

Actively support democracy and moderation in the Islamic world but not at gunpoint

In the vast majority of cases, imposing democracy and ‘religious moderation’ violently from the top down simply isn’t going to work. Period.

The Palestinian crisis is a key. Honest and vigorous American efforts there would do a ton to reduce the recruiting power of extremists. How come we've done next to nothing in the past 6 years?

Invest heavily in fighting poverty in the Islamic world and elsewhere

I’ve talked about the whys and hows of this before so won’t say much here. But economic and educational development is a huge weapon in battling terrorism. The big dollars going up in smoke in Iraq would have made a big positive difference elsewhere.


If what we’re dealing with is--at root--a spiritual struggle between what is good and what is not on both sides of the present political and cultural divide, seems like one of the most important approaches is prayer for everybody involved. Religious and spiritual folks need to stop focusing on the west versus Islamic radicalism and start focusing on the victory of fairness everywhere. The old timers used to call that ‘the Kingdom of God’ :^)

Extra added bonus--take a look at the way things might have been in the struggle against terror. Some wishful thinking but still a pretty fascinating 'thought experiment'....


Anonymous Jon said...

I think I agree with just about everything you said here. Although I don't know that port/airport/border security is a huge worry. But I basically agree with it all.

And ugghh...I can't even imagine how bad it will get if we impeach this president. I don't know when it happened - we went from "dumb actor" to "slick Willy" to "dumb cheerleader", but at some point in the last 20 years the republican/democratic partisan hatred has just gotten out of control. If Bush got impeached, or even reasonably close to it, the conflict would escalate unbelievably. I don't know what would put an end to it...maybe a McCain/Lieberman administration?

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Eddy E said...

I might be a pill on this one, but part of the problem that I have found is determining who the terrorists are. Bush's basic doctrine of "anyone who is against us" doesn't work. If we have a clearer understanding of who and what terrorism is, it would help us a long ways.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Yeah, it's pretty poisonous right now. Somebody like McCain would probably help reduce some of the conflict though I think the extreme right wing Republicans (meaning pretty much any Republican in the House elected under our weird gerrymandering laws)could end up crippling his presidency unless he wins by a huge margin which I don't think is going to happen. We'll see.

Amen Eddy. Didn't have time in the already lengthy post to deal with that issue. The 'anyone who is against us' and 'ongoing, open-ended war' concepts are the most dangerous stuff in the current sales pitch.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Can the House do enough to stymie the president? I would think that a moderate non-partisan Republican with the Senate on his side could get some things done. Although you're right, the gerrymandering is ridiculous and the resulting House that we have is terrible.

11:34 PM  

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