Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Fighting Terrorism

The peace-through-strength dogma so beloved of right-wingers everywhere does not apply to the ``war on terrorism.'' The motives, strategies and tactics of terrorists differ from those of militarists.

Terrorism thrives as a response to overwhelming military force, not the lack of it. On Sept. 10, 2001, the U.S. stood at the zenith of its military power and, arguably, the height of military power for any nation in history. This did not deter the terrorists, whose attack would not have been prevented by anything the U.S. military could have done, including bombing the entire Middle East into oblivion.

Israel's experience is instructive as well. In the face of Israel's massive, aggressive, overwhelming military superiority, Palestinian terrorism has tended to intensify.

The rational, pragmatic response to terrorism is increased intelligence and domestic security measures and a less emotion-driven ideological framework that doesn't treat terrorist attacks as affronts to the nation's ``manhood'' or self-esteem.

To the extent that terrorist attacks are responded to dispassionately, terrorists are denied their key objective, the spreading of fear and the destruction of liberal democratic values. To the extent that attacks are politicized and emotionalized and free speech and other civil liberties curtailed, the terrorists win and their threat is magnified, not diminished.

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