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Incompetence is no excuse

Of late, I have been noticing a common thread in certain circles regarding certain potential threats. In regards to Florida, North Korea, the Palestinian Authority, and Iraq, a remarkably similar defense is being proffered.

In Florida, seven men are under arrest for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks. Some say that it is all a ploy by the government, that they were "just talking," that they were too inept to do more than plan, that they had no actual weapons or explosives, just talking big.

In North Korea, Kim Jong-Il is likely to be testing his first intercontinental ballistic missile. While many consider this a grave cause for alarm, others see it as no big deal. It isn't likely to work. And if it does, he probably doesn't have a functional nuclear warhead to put on it. And if he does, it's too primitive (read: too big and too heavy) to fit on the missile. And even if it does fit the missile, he's not crazy enough to fire a single nuke at the US.

In the Middle East, a group that is part of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization claims to possess biological and chemical weapons. They already have a semi-reliable delivery system in their Qassam rockets, so here the question is whether or not their claim about the weapons is valid.

Meanwhile, their rivals in Hamas (who control the rest of hte Palestinian Authority government) just attacked an Israeli military post inside Israel through a tunnel, killing two soldiers and taking a third (presumably still alive). They are demanding the release of over 400 prisoners in exchange for information regarding him (establishing the Palestinians' own valuation of their own people vs. Israelis -- apparently one Zionist occupier is worth over 400 Palestinians).

And in Iraq, the discovery of over 500 chemical weapons is being minimized and scoffed at by the war's opponents. They were old weapons, not proof of Saddam's renewed WMD programs. They were from before the first Gulf War, and have degraded (but are still dangerous). They weren't stashed anywhere, they were lost and forgotten about.

In each case, the side attempting to minimize the danger here is violating a principle I heard years ago, and have traced back to Major John Christenson, USMC: "Honor the threat."

If someone who you know wishes you harm threatens you, you damned well better presume they have the means to carry out that threat until proven otherwise. Respect your enemy. Assume that they are intelligent and competent, and would not make a threat that they are not prepared to carry out.

This is not a call for paranoia. Threats are not deeds, and should not be grounds for retaliation. But it is a fool who hears the threats and ignores them.

Some religious nuts in Florida are talking about blowing up buildings in Allah's name? Well, threats like that alone are crimes. It might be easier to win a conviction, and longer sentences, if you wait until they actually take a few concrete steps towards doing so, but by that time it could be too late.

Some nutcase is threatening to nuke the US, and is pretty certain to have a couple of nukes on hand, and wants to test a missile to deliver it? Sounds like a good time to test a few things of our own -- such as our missile defense program and our counterstrike capability. If he doesn't follow international protocols and fires off his "test" missile without telling the world "this is a test, this is only a test," treat it as a live missile. Try to shoot it down, and simultaneously level the launch base. And a few other related bases. And a few more military targets, just for good measure.

Terrorists claim to have biological and chemical weapons to put on the rockets they're already using to bombard you? Announce that the next rocket fired will be presumed to be tipped with just such weapons, and massive retaliation will commence even before it hits the ground. The launch area of the missile will be levelled. Suspected assembly points of such missiles will be levelled. And any member of the terrorist organizations will be considered fair game, along with anyone stupid or unfortunate enough to be in the immediate proximity of the terrorists.

A nation with a past history of possessing and using WMDs, a history of aggressive war against its neighbors, and a nation defeated and forced to comply with disarming treaties to end a prior war, refused to cooperate with agreed-upon inspections and hints to its neighbors that if they strike in his moment of weakness, he will retaliate with WMDs? Who fires on those enforcing the terms of his surrender? Who supports terrorists openly? Who is organizing massive bribe attempts to get those crushing sanctions lifted? He's broken enough of his agreements; take down his government once and for all.

In each case, the actual danger posed is not likely, not imminent, not a huge cause for concern. But in each case, it is sufficient, and the motivation of the threatening party so high, that to not treat it as likely is too great.

After all, five years ago, who would have thought that less than two dozen guys armed with stuff you can buy at a dollar store for less than 20 bucks could end up killing almost 3,000 people in one morning?

"Honor the threat." Those who don't very often end up dead, with a very stupid-looking surprised look on their face.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Incompetence is no excuse:

» The Golden Gate linked with Respect Your Enemy

» bRight & Early linked with First Cup 06.27.06

» Another Blogger linked with Good Advice for a Tuesday Morning

» Say Anything linked with Honoring The Threat

» Searchlight Crusade linked with Links and Minifeatures 06 27 Tuesday

Comments (32)

Jay Tea, that was a most ac... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea, that was a most accurate description of each of those situation, although I would like to know where the Palistinians got WMD. You made it simple enough for the local libs to understand, but here is a bet they will not. I was wondering how they got to redefine the war in Iraq as about WMD, when it was about deposing Saddam? Mission accomplished. After all, it was Bill Clinton's CIA director who called it a slam dunk.

Most of the things I've lea... (Below threshold)

Most of the things I've learned in life I've learned from situations in my own life. One of the things I've learned is that we minimize manipulators and sociopaths to our own risk. It is human nature to not want to see evil in people where it clearly exists. We should fight that urge and take action sooner, or we we will be taking it later in much more dire circumstances. I learned this hard way.

Watch a Christian wacko mak... (Below threshold)
BC Monkey:

Watch a Christian wacko make a threat against an abortion clinic. How likely would the left be to consider incompetence as a reason to ignore him?

This minimizing the threat ... (Below threshold)

This minimizing the threat is very reminescent of the Clinton years when NOTHING VERY BIG happened and all the TRIVIAL THINGS (Towers attacked, Khobar Towers attacked, embassies attacked NAVY SHIP ATTACKED) could be answered with brave words, a quick missile launch and back to business as usual. 9/11 a result. I, for one, do not want to go down that road again!

I see people who propound t... (Below threshold)

I see people who propound that America is somehow invincible as fools. We would do well to remember the fall of another "invincible" empire: Babylon.

Babylon gained its reputation because of its high, massive walls and its strong defensive battlements. In fact, ancient writers described walls that were 14 miles long on all four sides of the city and that reached heights of over 300 feet--taller than most building today. Not only were the walls long and high, but in some places they also were 75-feet thick. But the wall was not the only form of defense. The Euphrates River surrounded the city, making a perfect moat that ranged anywhere from 65 to 250 feet across. This wall/moat combination appeared to make the city unconquerable.

Yet, in one of the greatest military victories in history, Babylon was taken while having a drunken party and reveling in their "security." King Cyrus of Medo-Persia developed an ingenious plan to divert the river surrounding the city, after which his army simply marched under the city wall.

We had better take our enemies seriously.

Minimizing a threat because... (Below threshold)

Minimizing a threat because of perceived 'competence' is foolish, and shows how liberals should NEVER be trusted with anyone's security again.

Think about if the 9-11 hijackers were caught before they boarded. The liberals would laugh at the possibility that a group of men with boxcutters could ever possibly hijack a plane.

"Why these were just boxcutters, not bombs' the NYT would say. "There is no way that they could ever get away with it.'

Thank goodness these people in Miami were caught in the beginning stages. Imagine what would happen if they were 'competent'.

Nor should we ignore the th... (Below threshold)

Nor should we ignore the threat that incompetent windbags (or their digital equivalents) pose to our security.

My son and I love to shoot ... (Below threshold)

My son and I love to shoot long range rifle matches. we use precision equipment and major calibers. However -- the lowly .22 kills more people in the US every year than any other, and it is usually wielded by a panicked individual, unskilled in shooting, firing blindly.

Incompetent, but deadly. Good job on the column. You nailed it.

Hi!I guess you guy... (Below threshold)


I guess you guys would consider me a liberal, but I think that stopping people before they do bad things is a good thing. I am, however, very pleased that the government followed due process and got a warrant in connection with the Florida raid. If the Bush administration would make this a habit, I'd support his every move to investigate, detain and punish those who are guilty (and free those who are not.)

Threats are not deeds, a... (Below threshold)

Threats are not deeds, and should not be grounds for retaliation.

"If you hate my guts and have designs to hurt me, and I see you building a cannon aimed at my house, I am not going to wait for you to finish construction." -- Walter E. Williams

"... when you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A short ditto to the first ... (Below threshold)

A short ditto to the first poster. A possible insight I would like to offer as far as honor the threat is concenred: I think we look at some goofy looking twerp like Richard Reid and conclude that his inept effort at shoe bombing results from his appearance. However, Ramsey Yusef from the first go at the World Trade Center looks like Reid's older brother. In one sense, he was failure as pathetic as his appearance, in as much as the WTC towers didn't come down. But the bomb got to where they wanted it and it did go off and it did kill people.
Bottom line is these guys are a combination of the gang that couldn't shoot straight, the Keystone cops, and the Three Stooges....until they aren't. Which is when, depsite all odds and every convention wisdom, they suceed. Then they go from major league L-O-S-E-R-S (witness Mohammad Atta) to mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Thanks for the cogent comments.

'A nation with a past histo... (Below threshold)
Xavier Gonne:

'A nation with a past history of possessing and using WMDs, a history of aggressive war against its neighbors' - Israel, right? Damn, sorry, not war, police action. Not terrorism, state-sponsored assassinations... with helicopter fired missiles.

Hmmm, who would have thought that the title of an intelligence report (Bin Laden planning attack inside United States) wouldn't be strong enough to warrant attention by the perpetually vacationing President? The US was attacked during Bush's reign, not Clinton's administration.

Incompetence is no excuse. Ne'er a truer word said. I wonder if that truism will lead to impeachment.

What I worry about more than the incompetent would-be attackers being routed, is the likelihood of DHS finding competent would-be attackers! A competent gunman does more damage than an incompetent crazy randomly discharging his legally purchased .22.

Xavier is Gonne

Libs see what they want to ... (Below threshold)

Libs see what they want to see and not what is truly there. Like the old saw " who am I going to believe, you ( their worldview) or my lying eyes". It's unfortunately human nature to deny what facts do not conform with one's perception of what things are. They are too invested to admit error until something cataclysmic occurs to blast through their denial.

"Xaviers Gone"... (Below threshold)

"Xaviers Gone"

Geez, Xavier, sorry you had... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Geez, Xavier, sorry you had to leave so quickly. I was curious to have you cite a few examples:

1) When has Israel used WMDs? To the best of my knowledge, they have never formally admitted to possessing them, let alone using them.

2) When has Israel started a war? Every single war they've fought has been after the other side committed flagrant acts of war. The 1967 war commenced after Egypt blockaded their only Red Sea port. The invasion of Lebanon followed literally years of cross-border attacks and bombardments.

3) The US wasn't attacked during the Clinton administration? Dang, I was wrong. Could you remind me when the following events occurred:

A) the World Trade Center bombing
B) The Khobar Towers bombing
C) The African Embassies bombings
D) The USS Cole bombing

I would've sworn they all fell between January 20, 1993, and January 20, 2001...

4) My neighbor owns several firearms. He's also a gun safety fanatic. For some reason, I feel safer knowing he and his arsenal are right next door, and feel more threatened by the gang members who frequent my neighborhood. Should I embrace them, and fear him?

Please hurry back and enlighten us further, Xavier.


While I agree that keeping ... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

While I agree that keeping an eye on old Kim's activitites is a good idea, all this talk about shooting down missles, or hitting them with cruise missles on the launch pad, is just so much posturing. The only thing the president needs to do is, send an open letter to Kim letting him know that any missle launch against the US, or one of its allies, and North Korea is going to glow in the dark for 5,000 years.

This tactic worked against the Soviet Union for 30 years and they had a lot more missles, which actualy had a chance of working. For those worried about him supplying the terrrorist with a weapon, the letter should also include a statement about any nuke originating in North Korea.

all this talk about shoo... (Below threshold)

all this talk about shooting down missles, or hitting them with cruise missles on the launch pad, is just so much posturing.

Yes, true. Judging from reports I've read, our ability to shoot down a missle of this type is extremely doubtful.

Kim knows this, and has therefore no doubt fully discounted the possibility of that ocurring. He knows that the worse thing we could do is try to shoot it down and fail, therefore we won't try at all.

That's the reality, the rest is indeed just posturing - as would be any effort to threaten to go nuclear on N. Korea. Kim has us over a barrel, and unfortunately the idiots in the White House are the wrong team for the mission. Hopefully they are listening to advice from others.

Lets see what you have to s... (Below threshold)

Lets see what you have to say after the missile is launched. Hope you are not in its flight path.

Great post, Jay Tea.... (Below threshold)

Great post, Jay Tea.

Uhhhh Jay. The weapons of "... (Below threshold)
Ken Hoop:

Uhhhh Jay. The weapons of "aggression"Iraq used against Iran were not unanimously agreed as fulfilling the definition of WMDs by military experts. The weapons the US used against Japan were.

And ummm, Jay. The US leadership provided Iraq with both military and intelligence against Iran,agreeing with that particular "aggression." This precludes Americans, if not others, from declaiming against Baathist Iraq's war crimes in any way that justifies the broad schemata
of US interventionist policy in the Mideast currently.

Finally, Jay. The US has hundreds of bases many spread throughout the Islamic world. The "world jihad" possesses not one army,navy or air force. And as for Hamas? Israel has within the past year killed hundreds of innocent Palestinians with wanton ill-aimed fire, much financed by the US taxpayer.

Get a sense of proportion, Jay.

Ken Hoop,"Wanton" ... (Below threshold)

Ken Hoop,

"Wanton" fire? Hardly. Aiming for terrorists who deliberately surrounded themselves with women and children? Yes. And guess what... Israel has no obligation to cease fire in such circumstances. The guilt lies squarely on the head of the terrorists who thought to use innocent civilians as human shields.

Aren't you the same moron who thought all Christians are rabid Rapturists?

"Xavier Gonne" sounds like ... (Below threshold)

"Xavier Gonne" sounds like "Xavier" is gonadless not Gonne.

Didn't take old "pucker puss" (lee lee) long to jump in did it? Why do I get the feeling that I am getting under "pucker pess's" skin?

"Ken Hoop"--not another one!!!

Even a wildly bouncing tenn... (Below threshold)

Even a wildly bouncing tennis ball inevitably hits something sometime!

Wrong, silverbubble, I said... (Below threshold)
Ken Hoop:

Wrong, silverbubble, I said MOST of the Religious Right evangelicals in America were, and it is a correct statement. Israel in the past year has been criticised by the UN and European governments for utilizing disproportionate measures of retaliation which account for much
of the carnage. But if the US government and "the Lobby" say otherwise, I guess the case is closed.
Except for the growing worldwide jihad against us, largely in reaction to it

The United Nations criticis... (Below threshold)

The United Nations criticised???

Bwahahahahahahahahahaha............*catching breath*................Bwahahahahahahahahaahahaha!!!!

Funny thing but the article... (Below threshold)

Funny thing but the article I read just before this was a Dateline NBC-type sting operation on wannabe pedophiles in Florida. Sure, they may be incompetant. And no, they didn't do much more than talk dirty in an online chat room to someone they thought was underage.

But I'm pretty happy that these guys, who planned to fuck what they thought was a 13-year old, are going to get jail time.

Good article. I agree with ... (Below threshold)

Good article. I agree with USMC Pilot, when it comes to state terrorism, like Korea. They've already indicated their plans to nuke South Korea at the opening of hostilities.

Scary as that prospect is, MAD works against nations, but I'm not sure it has the same impact if you're talking about asymmetrical warfare. Where do you point the missles? The only target that would give islamofascists pause is Mecca, and I don't know that we have the stones to do it.

Maybe the NY Times can help us figure this out, now that they've taken over national security.

Brilliant, Jay. <i... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Brilliant, Jay.

"After all, five years ago, who would have thought that less than two dozen guys armed with stuff you can buy at a dollar store for less than 20 bucks could end up killing almost 3,000 people in one morning?"

What an excellent way to remind us what so many of us have forgotten. Those poo-pooing the arrest of those in Florida truly have forgotten.

Wrong, silverbubble, I s... (Below threshold)

Wrong, silverbubble, I said MOST of the Religious Right evangelicals in America were, and it is a correct statement.

Except you can't provide any evidence of this assumption of yours.

Israel in the past year has been criticised by the UN and European governments for utilizing disproportionate measures of retaliation which account for much of the carnage.

You mean the UN, populated heavily by virulently anti-Semitic Islamic countries, doesn't like Israel? Shocking.

And Europe has a lengthy history of anti-Semitism. That the Holocaust occurred in Europe is hardly a historic accident.

Except for the growing worldwide jihad against us, largely in reaction to it

Using that logic, it would've been better to keep slavery legal than fight a Civil War.

After all, it led to A LOT of deaths.

Thanks for the return invit... (Below threshold)
Xavier Gonne:

Thanks for the return invite, and for correcting me. Yes, Jay, you are right. Let me slightly rephrase in order to relay the point I was trying to make... 'American suffered the single biggest terrorist strike in its' history during the reign of a prepetually vacationing President.'

Also, Jay, you are right again. People see what they want to see, throwing out the facts that don't suit them, often times in favor of comfortable lies. Both sides are culpable, I hope you can acknowledge that.

Can I ask those who do believe/acknowledge the UN has been gutted and reduced to a meaningless debating shop, is there an idea, an organization, a possibility, to provide hope for the future?

MAD does work against nations... however, it can't work against terrorists. The equvivlent counter threat to an Islamic terrorist attack is to nuke Mecca.

And Europe has a lengthy history of anti-Semitism. That the Holocaust occurred in Europe is hardly a historic accident.

Europe... either anti-semitic or a partner in the war on terror... those of the right are so fond of simplifications, pick one.

What an excellent way to remind us what so many of us have forgotten. Those poo-pooing the arrest of those in Florida truly have forgotten.

Remember this one? Those who are willing to give up [blank] to get [blank] deserve neither [blank] or [blank].

Ya see, I do see reason and sense to most of the right wingers options. It comes from fear and a them-not-me mentality. Yes, these arrests in Florida could have prevented a disaster... but the Attorney General himself said they didn't have any weapons, didn't have contact with AlQueda, or any functional plan.

'If the intent was to destroy the Seers tower, I am thankful that there was a minimum of four things in the terrorists way... distance, funds, equipment, plans. Hell, I could have the intent of walking on the moon, but a minimum of four things are in my way.'

It is nice to be called a Lib, but I'm a happy centerist from the great Republic of Ireland. Awful pleased to meet you all!

Xavier is Gonne... ehhh back in a bit...

Were you that fella that ar... (Below threshold)

Were you that fella that arrested soldiers for wearing their US uniforms in public? LOL

Each month lots of people v... (Below threshold)

Each month lots of people visit http://www.Alcwin.org Whether it is Chemistry, geology, mathematics or a whole range of topics






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