Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tunnel Vision

Some time around 9/12 some of the Dem leadership went on TV and mentioned that missle defense system wouldn't have done anything to prevent 9/11. That's true, I thought, but somewhat beside the point. Armored divisions wouldn't stop people on jet-liners either, but scrapping them probably wouldn't make us any safer. I was reminded of that when reading this Strib editorial today:

Candidate George W. Bush loved to lampoon the Clinton administration's emphasis on law enforcement and the legal system as tools against terrorism. They were too wimpy for him; a good, strong military action against a terror-sponsoring state was more his kind of action. And so military action we got. In Afghanistan it was essential, but in Iraq it was not. There it has increased manyfold the number of terrorists targeting the United States and worldwide animosity toward it.

Meanwhile, patient, meticulous police work in Britain and elsewhere identified and monitored this plot by a smallish, nonstate group of criminal terrorists until the need to take them down became urgent.

The rest deals with the importance of policework and cooperation between nations. That's all important. No one disputes that. The problem lies in treating the situation as if that's all that's important. Larger terrorist orginizations require training camps. These are much harder to run without sympathetic nations. Weapon development requires the same type of hands-off space. Nations can also be essential when it comes to using large amounts of money. International terrorism relies on these types of places. They also provide a safe haven.

The only method of depriving these areas from terrorists is military or the threat of the military. Sanctions aren't effective. Scrutiny (like weapons inspectors) can have some effect but they involve a fairly high risk and their effectivness probably lessens with time.

In the 90's, we used an almost exclusive law enforcement approach. The result was bigger and bigger terrorist events. The Strib (and those who share the argument) need to explain their way through this. The drawbacks to a military approach are very real and limiting, true. But continued sneers at it's use won't do anything to raise the trust level of the left when it comes to defense.


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