Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Six Years On: America's progress report in the War on Terrorism

The Prometheus Institute


Mr. Bush's misguided terrorism policy has also ignored other immediate dangers facing America. Despite Mr. Bush's single-minded desire to "fight terrorists over there" to keep them from "attacking us here", domestic terrorism has now become the greatest threat facing our nation, according to a recent NYPD report. These homegrown terrorists, like John Walker Lindh, Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber and Seung Hui-Cho, are not the product of backward Arab regimes lacking Democracy, but are products of the greatest Democracy in the world, the United States of America. Worst of all, these terrorists know our infrastructure, people, and they fit right in as legal American citizens. Stopping this threat requires effective domestic defense with aggressive law enforcement and dynamic intelligence, whatever the nationality, religion, or ideological zeal of the individual terrorist.

Yet instead of treating terrorism like the dangerously unique 21st century criminal tactic that it is, the President uses the failed 20th century tactic of foreign military occupation to try to keep America safe. Unfortunately, despite our military's valiant efforts, the policy has proven dangerously ineffective.

The worst part of Mr. Bush's reckless foreign policy, however, aside from it being manifestly useless in preventing domestic threats, is that it only serves to fuel the Islamists' global jihad. In Osama bin Laden's 1996 declaration of war against the United States, he stated his casus belli directly as the American 'occupation' of the Middle East, specifically our military aid to Israel, the first Gulf War invasion, and presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, claiming that the effort to expel the 'invaders' and 'crusaders' is the most important duty of all Muslims.

Notably, despite the patriotic fantasies of R. Giuliani and M. Romney, bin Laden did not declare war on American Freedom. Rather, bin Laden unequivocally declared war on American intervention in the Middle East. In fact, his only mention of American Freedom was to encourage Muslim women to boycott the products of American Capitalism. (Terror Alert Red: U.S. Intelligence has 'credible reports' of bin Laden planning boycotts of landmark American retailers.) Furthermore, Bin Laden's only stated political objections in his declaration of war were aimed at the Arab states, who he viewed as apostate in their abandonment of sharia law. (Nowhere did bin Laden indict the First Amendment, Constitution, or any other political feature of America, except its foreign policy.) It's time American politicians stop creating imaginary enemies with imaginary grievances, and recognize that jihadists hate us because of our interventionist military policy.

If bin Laden's declaration of war isn't enough to understand the reason 'why they want to kill us', Khalid Sheik Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, had an earlier plot that would have made it glaringly apparent. The plan was for Muhammad to personally hijack one of at least five planes, land at an undisclosed location, kill the adult men on board, proceed to deliver an extemporaneous stump speech indicting American foreign policy in the Middle East, release the women and children to tell his story, and then kill himself.

Such a disturbing plot reminds us of yet another feature of terrorism that Mr. Bush fails to recognize. As bin Laden warned us in his declaration of war, "These youths love death like you love life." The War on Terrorism thus won't be won simply by killing every terrorist, obviously because every terrorist already wants to die -- preferably in a crowded city from the biotoxin-filled explosives strapped to his chest. Victory is thus keeping them alive and bringing them to justice.

But instead of recognizing these crucial distinctions and facts about our 21st century terrorist threat, America's leaders choose to escalate the military occupation of foreign lands, only fueling the terrorist jihad against the American 'crusaders', while allowing domestic terrorism to loom an even larger threat. This, while our domestic law enforcement and intelligence services remain hobbled by bureaucracy, inefficiency and ignorance.

Is there any wonder why we're not winning?

The Prometheus Institute is a libertarian think tank based in California and a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit.

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