Beating the terrorists…what must be done?
After contemplating the London bombings all week and then learning of the Birmingham evacuation now in progress, I’m reminding of our lack of progress in the war on terror. And while I concede up front that its an unfair war in which a 99.9% success rate is unacceptable, we do still have to do something about the monsters before they kill us. Since 9-11 we have had no victories in this war, and the terrorists have had at least 3. (A victory to me would be foiling an attempt to terrorize, not merely catching or killing someone who might.)
Based on some recent readings and a bit of common logic, here are my keys to success:
1) Intelligence. We have none, and we need much. We need covert agents inside the Taliban headquarters, in the inner circles, on the internet. That means freedom-loving Muslims are going to have to step up in the CIA and go to the front lines to get this information.
2) Occupation. Dr. Robert A. Pape has written a fascinating book called Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. In this book he analyzes over 400 suicide missions around the world carried out by Islamic terrorists. He outlines that suicide terrorists are always motivated politically, not just by hatred. The suicide missions are in response to military occupation of an Islamic nation.
Consider these facts: Before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel. Before the 1990 invasion of the Arabian Penninsula, Al Qaeda didn’t target Americans. And, true to form, there had never been a documented suicide attack in Iraq until after the American invasion in 2003.
So, what, the 1990 Gulf War was a mistake and we should pull out of Iraq tomorrow? Of course not. That would be the mistake of the century. But we should look at the facts and understand that as long as we are in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will be targetted. Their motivation is less of hatred and more political than we think. Look at the past two major bombings, Spain and London. It’s not a coincidence that those countries are also helping us in Iraq, and common wisdom as well as intelligence shows that Italy is likely to be next.
There you go…Tyson’s words of wisdom for winning and un-winnable war.