Opinions Expressed in "Rants" while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.

How to Fight Terrorism

And so the war on terror rages, and rages, and rages – and keeps on raging.  Hezbollah sets off a car bomb in Tel Aviv, Israel retaliates by bombing targets in Lebanon.  Does that do the job?  Does it prevent Hezbollah from further acts of terror?  No.  In fact it makes them madder.  So why did they retaliate that way?

Well, it’s simple really.  Getting bombed in Tel Aviv makes Israeli’s feel helpless, powerless, victimized.  The way to feel powerful again is to strike back.  Basically, the benefit of retaliation is only that it makes the victim FEEL BETTER – and that, only temporarily, for it will produce the same response in the adversary, continuing the cycle indefinitely.

And the notion that by retaliating, the victim will scare the attacker from further attacks, make them regret ever attacking in the first place – well, that just doesn’t work.  That’s an attempt to control the enemy with fear – and fear will only morph into anger and hatred.  The notion of destroying the enemy completely, while theoretically sound, in practice it doesn’t work.  It’s like trying to kill all the mosquitoes in the woods; there’s always more to replace them.

We see the same pattern acted out in Iraq.  The feeling of invincibility, that the U.S. once held, was lost on 9-11 – the only way to get it back was to get Bin Laden.  Only they couldn’t find Bin Laden, so instead they went after an easier target – so that they’d FEEL BETTER – Iraq.  At least they thought it’d be easier – turns out U.S. troops have now been in Iraq longer than in Vietnam, and is their long term objective realized?  We’ll see. 

One thing we do know, still no Bin Laden.  And not only that, how many more young Muslim men hate the U.S. thanks to this action in Iraq, which, as it turns out, was more about oil than anything else?   The cycle continues.

If the objective is just to make ourselves FEEL BETTER after a terrorist attack, then we can all continue to respond as we have, as have humans throughout history since the beginning.  And we will continue to do so for the rest of history.

However, if we really want to GET RID OF TERRORISM, we have to understand how it works.

The common mistake is to label all terrorists as the same: they’re all monsters, they’re all insane, they all deserve to die.  We do this, taking away their humanity, so we can wrap our heads around why they would do such a thing to us.  I used to do the same thing when kids made fun of me at school – it’s because they’re all jerks, I’d convince myself, lowdown, no good useless jerks – rather than insecure kids trying to communicate their own inner pain. 

Labelling them will also allow us to feel better about exterminating them.

But the truth is, they aren’t ALL insane.  A terrorist group doesn’t consist of twenty crazy maniacs.  It consists of one or two crazy maniacs, with 18 men who feel so desperate and hopeless and powerless, who figure they have nothing else to lose, that the only way they can FEEL BETTER is to follow them.

Of course this is exactly what happened in Germany in the 1930’s.  The whole country didn’t go mad – the whole country was desperate, desperate enough to follow a madman.  And that country’s desperate masses became his strength.

So – how to fight terrorism.  If the U.S. can have the humility to address how it has made those 18 young men so desperate, if it can changes those policies that have led them there, then they will cease to be terrorists.  Israel has to stop their provocative action in Palestinian territory.  The U.S. has to stop supporting foreign dictators that support multi-national conglomerates that oppress and impoverish the masses.  France and Great Brittan should never have imposed the treaty of Versailles on Germany, virtually destroying that nation.  And this would then cut off the strength of those madmen, those Hitlers and Bin Ladens and Charles Mansons, making them powerless.  And then terrorism will be defeated.

And how much easier it is to approach the desperate terrorist follower while from a position of strength. For the moment, the U.S. remains in that position.

But this is the only way.  It’s about getting over the need to FEEL BETTER after being attacked, and having the humility to do what must be done.  The way to defeat terrorism is to stop creating terrorists – to stop creating the desperate conditions wherefrom terrorism will arise. 

The way to defeat our enemy is to take away his reason to fear us, then he will no longer be our enemy.