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"Honor the threat"

A while ago, a reader named "Steve" dropped the phrase "honor the threat" in a comment around these parts. That phrase stuck with me, and I've been meaning to write about it for some time.

"Honor the threat." Treat every single threat as serious, until proven otherwise. It's something I've always believed, but never really put into words until I saw Jay Solo (Correction: Steve) spell it out in those simple three words.

In that piece Steve commented on, I made analogy comparing Islamic extremists to a seven-year-old boy who threatens to kill you. Let's set aside that hypothetical situation, and look at some real-world examples.

1) The Palestinian Authority talks about "peace" with Israel, but as thoroughly documented on their web site, their idea of "peace" doesn't jibe with most people's. The maps they show of "Palestine" show it completely covering the entire area that is now Israel. There is absolutely no room for a Jewish state on their maps, or by extension in their "vision" for a peaceful future. Yet people still talk about the "peace process" and how "both sides want a peaceful future, with two states living side by side." That's not what they're saying, folks, and putting words in their mouths won't make it true.

2) Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden. In the early 90's, they declared war on the US and announced their plans to "destroy" us. We largely ignored them. They tried to blow up the World Trade Center, and we sicced lawyers on them. They tried to blow up two of our embassies and sink one of our navy's destroyers, and we yelled a lot and fired a couple of missiles, and sent more lawyers on the hunt. And on September 11, they showed us what they thought of a couple dozen Tomahawks and indictments.

Since then, we haven't captured Bin Laden or decisively crushed Al Qaeda, but we have dealt them enough blows and kept them on the run enough that they've only pulled off two major operations (Bali and Madrid), neither against the US. And while I would like to see Bin Laden's head on a pike as much as the next guy, I'm content for now that he's been kept from doing anything else against us for the past four years.

3) The repeated Arab/Israeli "ceasefires." The Arabs kept calling for a "ceasefire" with Israel, and everyone was just thrilled down to their socks at that -- until a couple of wise guys looked at just what they were saying. They kept using the word "Hudnah" (or however it's being spelled). A little digging showed that the original Hudnah dates back to Mohammed.

It seems Mohammed wanted to conquer Mecca. The only thing was, the people didn't want to be conquered, and they told him so forcefully. So Mohammed signed an agreement ("Hudnah"), agreeing to not attack again for ten years.

Then he promptly went home, raised a new army, came back two years later, and conquered Mecca. A "Hudnah" is not a cease-fire, it is a pause to regroup, rearm, and prepare for the next fight.

To me, the argument against "honoring the threat" in international relations smacks of racism. People tell themselves that "that's just talk, that's not what they really mean, that's just how they express themselves." Apparently they believe that other people are congenitally incapable of speaking exactly what they think -- and then acting upon it.

It's a popular belief. If you want more evidence, just look in the history books -- because that's where such people tend to end up, and always referred to in the past tense.


Comments (18)

Me?... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Me?

Well put Jay. I would have... (Below threshold)
epador:

Well put Jay. I would have never guessed you would find an aviator's safety advice and put it to honorable use. Note it came fom a USCG Station in Sitka. A very active USCG Air Station, the public version appears to be down, but you can see the District site here:
http://www.uscg.mil/d17/index.htm
Semper Paratus

It's definitely good advice... (Below threshold)

It's definitely good advice, with one caveat:

You honor the threat, but you must do so with intelligence. Threats can be used to provoke a response and evaluate your defenses. A mounting threat can be meant to distruct you while something else is going on. Threats can be used simply to make you nervous and rattle your cage.

Coupled with the philosophy of honoring the threat is a policy of accurate threat evaluation.

On the Islamic history ("hudna") note:

One of my Christian Education classes at church decided to focus on the history of Islam. We obtained what was a all accounts a balanced book on the history of Islam (can't remember the title now, argh). At our first discussion, we were asked for initial impressions. Mine was, after reading the book, that the history of Islam consisted almost entirely of one tribes raiding and killing each other for hundreds of years as their primary means of survival.

Almost everyone else concurred. There wasn't a whole lot to discuss, and after a few weeks, we ended up moving on to something else, due to the brutal, repetitive nature of the material. As far as I could discern, most of their law developed out of the immediate expediency of a culture of raiding and pillaging. It was just one book, though, and I'm sure there are other points of view.

Whoops... sorry, Jay. I wro... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Whoops... sorry, Jay. I wrote the piece thinking you'd been the one to say it. Then when I doublechecked, I saw it wasn't you. I missed one reference, though.

J.

The first WTC bombing isn't... (Below threshold)
Al:

The first WTC bombing isn't as clearcut as you make it out to be. The opposing POV is that it was Achmed Ressam - an Iraqi plot. Regardless, the Iraqi's had similarly (defacto) declared war anyway, so it doesn't change your point.

I think "taking the threat ... (Below threshold)
noel:

I think "taking the threat seriously" would be a better choice of words than "honoring it". Honor denotes more than fear and loathing.

While never a great fan of Clinton's I would point out that the perpetrators of the first attack on the Trade Center were taken down and are now locked up. Lawers didn't catch them and no further attackers reached U.S. targets in spite of the massive obstruction Clinton endured.

I agree he should have done more than attack Osama's stronghold with "a few" missiles and would add that the Republican congress should have supported him in such an effort.

I would also add that not stopping all 4 subsonic airliners was inexcusable on September 11th and no one should have needed advance warning either. You cannot blame Clinton any more than Clinton could blame Bush the First for the first WTC bombing in '93. It is SOP to have fighters in the air immediatly under the circumstances of Sept. 11, 01 as they were when Payne Stuart's little private plane lost cabin pressure. My job in North Vietnam was shooting down MIGs that threatened the 7th fleet and our aircraft that were bombing that densely populated area so I have somewhat relevant experience. It just isn't that hard to identify such a problem and take action. No stealth involved as their was in the first WTC attack but huge blips on the radar, automatic alarms when transponders went off and when they all changed course for major U.S. cities, not Cuba.

Bin Laden is recruiting terrorists hand over fist now and one terrorist attack is in progress now; our cities are being flooded with heroin and Bin Laden is profiting coming and going.

As for the evil of Islam it is right out of the old testament; stoning people for adultry, beseeching God to rain terror and death down on their enemies and denying that God would reveal Himself to anyone else but them. It may have been more appropriate to place Israel in Germany after WW2. Or maybe Alabama. I'm sure the Alabamans wouldn't fuss about it.

And why doesn'r anyone demand to put copies of the Beatitudes in public places? Or demand the seperation of church and state as Jesus so adamantly did? Or the religious refugees from Europe did when writing our constitution?

Didn't mean to barge in on ya'll, just came to see about Sandra Day O'Conner and checked this out...

love God, love each other. That's about all you need to know, the rest comes automatically after that.

love and peace to you

Point #1 is a huge understa... (Below threshold)

Point #1 is a huge understatement. I've talked to a Muslim man from the West Bank, and he insists that the Jews came in and stole their land and that Palestine was a country before the Jews destroyed it. The concept of allowing Israel to exist is completely foreign to him. There is intense hatred towards Jews there.

It's actually quite scary to see such hatred.

Palestine was a country bef... (Below threshold)
noel:

Palestine was a country before Israel was placed there after WW2. It was a country occupied by The British Empire for a long while SilverBubble. The hatred is shared by Israelis as well. The Israelis have seen their loved ones killed by suicide bombers and the Palestinians have seen their loved ones killed by f16s, m16s, Apache helicopters etc. Seen their farms and neighborhoods destroyed and confiscated. Hard to fight a war without hatred though we manage do do so here in the U.S. several hundred of them since 1776 and only 4 or 5 sanctioned by congress and declared as the constitution calls for.

While we might not want to condone hatred we must understand it. We must understand it first and foremost in ourselves and learn that Muslims are God's children. Even Osama Bin Laden and his rapidly expanding Al Queda.

I would also add that no... (Below threshold)
penny:

I would also add that not stopping all 4 subsonic airliners was inexcusable on September 11th

For starters, one plane was stopped by the passengers at the expense of their lives.

Do you really think that morning that shooting down passenger planes with such little information about their full intent and such little time was prudent? Terrorist hijackings were the historic pattern rather than smashing planes into buildings before 9/11.

Hindsight is a easy.

Noel,Can you give ... (Below threshold)

Noel,

Can you give me a history of this country that was called "Palestine" including but not limited to: rulers, currency, major cities, major wars, ethnic groups contained within, major religion(s), important laws, important treaties with other countries, origins, boundaries, allies, major historical enemies, economic information (industries, agriculture; were they known for their crops, cloths, carpentry, etc?), and examples and styles of artwork and literature produced? I would dearly love to see it.

Palestine has always been a region, not a country. It's been controlled by various groups throughout history, but I have yet to hear of it being its own country.

As for people such as Osama bin Laden being God's children, read John 8:42-47 and 1 John 3:7-10. But then again those verses aren't very popular with most people and I'd imagine they will get rationalized, twisted, or thrown out alltogether. And no, I am not saying we should hate such people; we should treat everyone with love, no matter who they are.

With four at once anyone wi... (Below threshold)
noel:

With four at once anyone with average intelligence could have figured it out especially after the first one hit the WTC. This happened over a period of almost 2 hours. Kamikazi attacks are not unheard of historically either and contingency plans were devised and put into place after the White House was hit by a small plane flown by a Maryland farmer early in the Clinton administration. They were actually engaged in exercises to stop suicide attacks by planes on the east coast that day.

Foresight should have been easy too considering the amount of intelligence they had. Again, SOP is to launch fighters the minute a plane diverts from it's flight plan, stops responding to communication etc. as they did in the case of Payne Stuart's plane. They flew up, looked in the windows, saw that they were iced over, deduced that the aircraft had lost pressure and the occupants were dead. A matter of minutes.

The people who called thems... (Below threshold)
noel:

The people who called themselves Palestinians lived in that region and had done so for centuries. Jewish people, mostly victims of persecution by so called "Christians" in Europe were given haven...of sorts...there between ww1 and ww2 after which Israel was formed, I think it's safe to say, in large part out of understandable sympathy for survivors of the Nazi pogom. Rather a region, country or occupied territory of the Ottoman Empire or British Empire the people living in that region had the most respectable claim to the land.

If we are not God's children where else did we come from? I will look up and 8:42-47 and 1 John 3:7-10 later. I am running late and have to go. I'd rather be here talking with you guys though.

love and peace to you SilverBubble

I got back and read chapter... (Below threshold)
noel:

I got back and read chapter and verse SilverBubble. It is all about the same thing; matter versus spirit. Satan is master of the material world and God, by whatever name, is master of the spiritual.

No one is more materialistic than international corporations. No one. And Bush and those who pull his strings are not "Christians" by any stretch of the imagination or letter of the law. They are blinded by greed and did not defend us on September 11th and are not defending us now. Either from material threat or spiritual threat. The extreme right is as godless as the extreme left or moreso since they want to consolidate all wealth in their own hands, survival of the fittest, and the Communists spread it amongst all. Theoretically anyway.

Raining 30,000 high powered bombs down on the people of Iraq was not "Christian" either. They were no threat to us and were enemies of Osama Bin Laden and his Saudi minions. Bush Inc. are invading every place that has oil http://energy.er.usgs.gov/products/papers/World_oil/oil/ and it is really that simple.

The difference between matter and spirit, church and state love and hate. Love God, Love each other, everything else is just dead atoms.

Thank you for indulging me SilverBubble and anyone else who read my rant.

Sorry, noel, but shooting d... (Below threshold)
penny:

Sorry, noel, but shooting down a passenger plane was not a reasonable option on the morning of 9/11.

Easy to say they should have done it in hindsight.

Noel,I see you've ... (Below threshold)

Noel,

I see you've chosen this special time to make a fool of yourself in public. It's a heck of a lot easier to be ready to shoot down misbehaving aircraft in an active war zone, than over a country at peace, with no actively hostile neighbors. From the time Flight 175 hit the south tower (when we realized that it was an attack) to when the passengers forced Flight 93 down over Pennsylvania was about one hour and seven minutes. Being that we hadn't had to worry about Soviet missiles for ten years, we didn't have fighters sitting hot alerts on the east coast like we did during the Cold War. (We still had them on the Gulf Coast to help intercept drug smuggling planes) The only fighter in a position to reach Flight 93 before it would have reached Washington D.C. was an F-16 on a training flight with no missiles or cannon ammunition. (The pilot's orders were to ram the airliner while ejecting at the last moment if it didn't obey orders to land) There was no clear cut chain of command to deal with the situation in the time allotted. Up until that point, hijackings were an FAA matter. There was no direct hotline between them and NORAD. In short, you're talking out of your kiester when saying that that with the system that was in place when the attacks happened, we should have been able to stop them. Perhaps you should get a copy of the 9/11 Commission's report & read it before flapping your gums .

Perhaps honoring the threat... (Below threshold)
epador:

Perhaps honoring the threat includes acknowledging the emotions and ignorance that blind so many in getting a grip on the reality of the conflicts in our world, past and present. And continuing to do our best to engage intellectually, when possible, to avoid further stimulating emotions while attempting to remedy the ignorance.

However, I favor just vigorously applying a 3 foot 2x4 [virtual or actual depending upon the proximity] to the genitals or craniums of regressive liberal Trollglodytes when they begin to swarm.

I think “honor the threat” ... (Below threshold)
Steve:

I think “honor the threat” is more than apt in this context. They have not hidden their intent – they state it plainly and frequently. We don’t need the CIA or other intelligence analysts to put the pieces together (thankfully, given their performance of late). They announce it in taped speeches, post it to the web, and preach it in the mosques weekly.

If someone says to you “I intend to either kill you or enslave you.” you would be extremely short-sighted not to “honor the threat”.

And they know it can’t all be by the sword. They have invaded Europe simply via immigration. Just look at the population numbers for any European country. The native populations are in steady decline while the muslim immigrant population is growing and out of control. They do not assimilate; they live in their own closed communities. Closer to home, Ontario now allows the use of sharia law in civil arbitrations.

“We intend to convert you, enslave you, or kill you.” What part of that is difficult for anyone to understand?

Honor the threat.

Noel:Ask any "Pale... (Below threshold)
Jameel Rashid:

Noel:

Ask any "Palestinian Arab" who the first President of Palestine was, and they will all tell you "Yassir Arafat" (may he rot in hell for eternity).

If he's the first President, then who were the previous rulers of the fictitous country you claim to have existed?

Regarding "we are all G-d's children" -- we also have free choice. And if people chose to strap dynamite to themselves and blow themselves up, they aren't the sort of children I want to have around my children. Just because Evil exists, and since Evil was created (or is the absence of) G-d, it doesn't mean to have to love it.

You also have free will - and you should use it to discern between good and evil.




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