Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 05, 2005

Terrorists And Br'er Rabbit

Man, I wish these maniacs would stop saying this stuff:

Ayman al-Zawahri, one of the most senior figures in al-Qaeda, has warned Britain and the US to expect more attacks unless they get their troops out of Iraq and all other Muslim countries.

He also warned that London will face new terrorist outrages because of Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy decisions.
There is no better way to ensure that the U.S. stays in Iraq than for a top al-Qaida figure to warn us to get out of Iraq, or else. In the absence of a terrorist suggesting where our armed forces might go, getting out of Iraq is our own decision. It's a question of policy. Hmmm, would getting out of Iraq be better or worse for the U.S.? We are free to ponder that question. But the second a terrorist says "we want you out of Iraq," now one of our choices is equivalent to "doing the bidding of terrorists." And I can't really blame anyone for balking at wanting to cooperate, no matter how tangentially, with terrorists. If a terrorist said "the U.S. must lower the capital gains tax," I'm sure even Grover Norquist would have to pause for a minute to reassess his position on the matter.

But the terrorists must know this. How could they not know this? They must know that whatever they demand, they simply will not get. Which got me thinking, maybe they want us in Iraq. Maybe they enjoy having us there. After all, if they know exactly how we will respond to their every request, they can tailor their requests to get the response they want. Maybe these kind of threats are really an elaborate Br'er Rabbit routine, where they know their only hope is to keep the U.S. thinking that it's doing what it doesn't want, when in fact we're doing exactly what they want.

To Br'er Fox, the briar patch looked for all the world like the worst possible place to throw someone. If you wanted to get even, dole out punishment, or stamp out resistance, the briar patch was the place to do it. When Br'er Rabbit got stuck on the tar baby, Br'er Fox had him right where he wanted him. But instead of thinking about what would be most harmful to his adversary, Br'er Fox was preoccupied with his own deepest fears. To Br'er Fox, the briar patch was the worst fate of all. But Br'er Rabbit wanted to be thrown in the briar patch. In fact, it was his only chance.

To me, war and violence and mayhem is the briar patch. We think it's terrible, and for us, a mostly civilized society, it is terrible. By extension, how terrible and just it would be to visit such punishment on our worst enemies. But to violent terrorists consumed with hatred for secular order, mayhem is just what the doctor ordered. The more disorder they can sow, the more it becomes "their turf." The more things spiral out of control in Iraq, the more confident they become. Bush says that more explosions mean the terrorists are desparate. I'd argue that the opposite is true: that they're feeling right at home.

My solution? I really do believe that terrorism is a law enforcement issue, but not in a "tell the boys in blue to keep their eyes peeled" type of way. It should be a global law enforcement initiative, with everyone from the CIA to Interpol right in the thick of it. Now that, I think, is a fate the terrorist would fear. No more meetings in airports. No more training grounds. No more internet correspondence. If a nation doesn't cooperate, we use our intelligence network to gather the necessary info and our considerable military might to swoop in, do what needs doing, and get the heck out. Our intelligence network isn't sophisticated enough? We don't have enough/adequate spy satellites? Cooperation with foreign law enforcement is not what we'd like it to be? Gee. It'd be nice to have the 200 billion we've spent on Iraq and all that post 9-11 diplomatic capital back. Could have come in pretty handy. Oh well.

The use of force can be a valuable tool as we work to oppose terror, but this shooting guns in Iraq, nation-building crap is for the birds. And it's exactly what al-Qaida wants. So, of course, they're going to ask us to leave.

This blog is based on a true story.