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A Lesson Unlearned

Regular readers of Wizbang recognize that it is usually Jay Tea's job to take issue with the venerable Boston Globe. We hope, then, that Jay Tea won't mind our own discussion of some typical Boston Globe foolishness. But this example of moronic Globe editorializing simply begs for rebuttal.

The September 8 number of the Globe contains a staff editorial called "An Antiterrorism Lesson." It begins as follows:

The arrest Tuesday of three suspects in a plot to carry out bombings in Germany offers crucial lessons about preventing terrorism. Some of those lessons have to do with the tactics of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. But the most beneficial insight Americans could gain from the German example is that war is the wrong metaphor for a nation's defense against terrorism.

Ah, we just knew it would happen. Every time a government catches a few prospective terrorists, someone brings out the trusty "law enforcement alone will solve the problem" argument. Humorously, the Globe argues that war is "the wrong metaphor for a nation's defense against terrorism." Someone ought to inform the Globe that war is not merely a metaphor, but is actually being waged against, e.g., the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Globe continues:

The terrorists may need to tell each other they are killing civilians in the cause of a holy war. But societies that have to protect themselves against Al Qaeda and its offshoots are not at war. And they don't need to act as if they are going to war.

The investigation leading to this week's arrests and the seizure of bomb-making material suggests that the terrorist threat is best countered not by armies, but by meticulous police work, intelligence cooperation, and laws that strike a reasonable balance between civil liberties and the state's obligation to protect the lives of citizens.

Thus do the deep thinkers of The Boston Globe present the opinion that war is never the appropriate response to terrorism. To which one might reasonably ask: Even in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan? Was it wrong for the US to topple that odious government, when it could have done some "meticulous police work" instead?

Someone ought to introduce the Globe staff to the 1990s. After all, it was during this decade that President Bill Clinton treated terrorism as a law-enforcement issue. He did not respond to terrorist attacks with armies; he responded with police work instead.

And what happened? Well, an escalation in terrorism throughout the decade, which ultimately led to 9/11. That is the proper way to handle the terrorist menace?

Now, it is certainly true that intelligence and law enforcement have a role to play in the War on Terrorism. But to assume that they alone can handle Islamist fascism is ahistorical and absurd.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently demanding the use of "meticulous police work" to stop the genocide in Darfur.)


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Comments (8)

But the most benef... (Below threshold)
rrita m:
But the most beneficial insight Americans could gain from the German example is that war is the wrong metaphor for a nation's defense against terrorism.

The insight is immediately dissolved with such rhetoric. Only those with extreme tunnel vision would refer to war as a metaphor when dealing with terrorism.

Three terrorist were arrest... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Three terrorist were arrested. The suspect list is now up to 50 +. Too bad we have more and larger terrorist cells in the U.S. and no longer, thanks to the democrats, have the ability to track them. We can provide information on terrorist to other countries but our own CIA, FBI, and NSA can't talk to each other. Will the left over democrats wake up when a few hundred thousand, democrats, are killed by the terrorists?

While the Clinton Administr... (Below threshold)

While the Clinton Administration clearly failed to place a high enough priority on bin Laden and Islamic extremist terrorism, he didn't invent the "law enforcement" approach to terrorists. It had been the default approach of every American President going back to Carter and the first targeting of Americans.

The 1993 WTC bombing shocked the nation, but the damage was far less than intended. In fact, the incompetence of the terrorists, from misplacing the truck for maximum damage to attempting to get the deposit back, tended to reinforce a false confidence about the threat. And while the 1998 African Embassy bombings finally approached the destructive level of the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon, both took place far from the homeland.

Now, I would agree that Clinton didn't do enough against the terrorists, but neither did his predecessors.

The argument that we should go back to the strategy that DID NOT WORK is ridiculous, though. Since declaring the "Global War on Terror," al Qaeda's leadership ranks have been decimated, their remainders scattered into remote regions or drawn into our force concentration in Iraq. Their leaders are reduced to sending the infrequent grainy video or scratchy audio via a convoluted delivery route to avoid detection, whereupon they rail against America and beseech their followers to do something. They dare not be seen anywhere, nor use a cell phone or email.

Their money has been confiscated or frozen. Cells have been disrupted, acolytes arrested, jihadis killed. The Taliban has been deposed, as has Saddam's regime, which succored, supported, or shielded representatives of at least 25 Muslim extremist terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. The terror business is far riskier and far less successful now that we have been treating it as a war instead of mere criminal activity.

I'm sure Osama and his pals would LOVE to see us go back to the old methods - the ones under which they were able to carry out successful attacks repeatedly with good chances of escaping justice. The question is, "WHY would anyone not allied with the terrorists want to see that?"

Someone needs to remind the... (Below threshold)
marc:

Someone needs to remind the oblivious loonbats at the Globe Osama DEM Laden declared war on the U.S. first and we are responding in kind.

Didn't a US eavesdropping p... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Didn't a US eavesdropping program help catch the German plotters?

The left loves the justice ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The left loves the justice system and law enforcement? Yeah. They did great with WACO. Ruby Ridge. Richard Jewel. Ted Kazinski. The first WTC bombing. And many others. Yeah, our law enforcement system with all there limitations will do so much better. (sarcasm)

The left are becoming if not already, idiots. ww

but by meticulous police... (Below threshold)

but by meticulous police work, intelligence cooperation, and laws that strike a reasonable balance between civil liberties and the state's obligation to protect the lives of citizens.

Add to the law enforcement mix that "reasonable balance [of] civil liberties" means that the law enforcement solution is hobbled as well.

If terrorists must strike again, please nail a liberal target. Maybe common sense will follow in the wake.

dj, the lefties are doing t... (Below threshold)
kim:

dj, the lefties are doing their damndest to obscure that point, which may well remain unknown, for security reasons. Watch Semanticleo try to make progress through the quagmire of his reasoning with that point.

Poverty-struck rhetoric. It's from the poverty of their critical thinking, and their dependence on sophistry. Now it seems many of the leftist talking points stem from a jaded and failed heavy metal critic. Nobody wanted to hear his opinion about music, but they suck up his politics like mother's milk.

Adam Gadahn, political pundit to the stars.
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