Dec 20 2008

Realities of stopping terrorist acts

Category: national security,Obama,terrorismharmonicminer @ 10:08 am

I’ve commented before that there are certain realities to our situation vis a vis Islamofascism that the major media don’t seem to understand, or want the public to really grapple with. There is fundamental background at the link above, which takes a little reading time to acquire, but which is guaranteed to change your thinking about the matter.

In the meantime, President-elect Obama has surely gotten some national security briefings that have gotten his attention. Unless I miss my guess, he has been informed about things he had no idea of when he was on the campaign trail making sweeping statements about how different his administration would be from that of the evil Bush. But, reality is going to intrude, and unless he plans to totally abrogate his responsibilities as commander in chief, to protect the American people, he is going to have to “get real” quite soon.

Mr. Obama will soon face the same awful choices that confronted George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and he could well be forced to accept a central feature of their anti-terrorist methods: extraordinary rendition. If the choice is between non-deniable aggressive questioning conducted by Americans and deniable torturous interrogations by foreigners acting on behalf of the United States, it is almost certain that as president Mr. Obama will choose the latter.

Of course, he and his senior officials seem to believe now that they don’t have to make this choice. For them there is a better way to combat terrorism, by using physically non-coercive questioning of suspects and civilian courts or military courts-martial to try and punish jihadists.

But this third way, which is essentially where America was before the Clinton administration embraced rendition, is plausible only if Mr. Obama is lucky. He might be. If there is no “ticking time bomb” situation — say, where waterboarding a future Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the 9/11 mastermind) could save thousands of civilians — then there is neither need for the C.I.A.’s exceptional methods, nor the harsh services of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.

Will Obama be that “lucky”? Meaning, of course, will we?

If the Islmaofascists are smart, they’ll wait a few years for the military build-down to occur (the one constantly encouraged by the Democrat congress, and promised in several ways by Obama). The best time to hit your opponent is when he’s looking the other way.

On the other hand, the Islamofascists clearly miscalculated with the 9/11 attacks. I think they truly did not expect the vigor of the American response. And when they put all their eggs in the Iraqi civil war basket, they again miscalculated both American will (well…  George Bush’s will, anyway) and the effect of killing Iraqi civilians on the Iraqi will to fight.

So we can hope: if they must attack, let it be soon, while we have the resources left to fight and respond to the source(s) of the attack, whatever they turn out to be. They’re going to attack; it’s just a matter of time. That being the case, better a less developed, hasty blow, than a finely calculated, thoroughly prepared and perfectly timed one.

And best of all: a hasty blow that is nevertheless stopped because we have not lost the will to resist, using whatever tools are available to us.  This is not a call for random torturing to see what turns up, but it is a call for finely calibrated strategy and tactics without ruling out necessary tactical options in advance, just because it makes for good public relations and sound bites.

If thousands or tens of thousands of Americans are killed in a terrorist event on our own soil, no one, absolutely no one, will be comforted by how righteously forbearant we were in interrogating people who knew something about it in advance.

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