Benjamin Netanyahu FIGHTING TERRORISM P

ISBN 13: 9780374524975

FIGHTING TERRORISM P

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9780374524975: FIGHTING TERRORISM P
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In this innovative and concise work, Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu offers a compelling approach to understanding and fighting the increase in domestic and international terrorism throughout the world. Citing diverse examples from around the globe, Netanyahu demonstrates that domestic terrorist groups are usually no match for an advanced technological society which can successfully roll back terror without any significant curtailment of civil liberties. But Netanyahu sees an even more potent threat from the new international terrorism which is increasingly the product of Islamic militants, who draw their inspiration and directives from Iran and its growing cadre of satellite states. The spread of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, coupled with the possibility that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, poses a more frightening threat from an adversary less rational and therefore less controllable than was Soviet Communism. How democracies can defend themselves against this new threat concludes this provocative book.

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About the Author:

From his days as a soldier in an elite anti-terror unit in the Israeli army to his years as Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has fought terrorism on the military, diplomatic and political battlefields. He has also written A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World.

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Fighting Terrorism
I The Plague of Domestic Terrorism Organized crime has plagued all the democracies. It has attacked business establishments, assaulted judges, corrupted police officials. But the rise of terrorism in recent decades presents a new form of organized violence directed against democratic societies. Making their appearance in the late 1960s, terrorist attacks have afflicted virtually each of the Western countries in an unfailing sequence. The societies targeted have included Britain, Italy, France, Holland, Spain, Germany, Japan, Argentina, Israel, and most recently the United States itself. No country is immune, few are spared. This new violence differs significantly from that of organized crime. While the violence of traditional organized crime is directed to achieving financial gains, terrorist violence, regardless of the specific identity and goals of its perpetrators, is always directed toward achieving political ends. Because of this distinction, the scope of the violence of organized crime is radicallymore limited. Gangsters kill only those they have to kill--usually other gangsters--in order to win or maintain control over specific areas of legal or illicit commerce. But terrorists are out to terrorize the public at large, with the intent of compelling some kind of change of policy, or else as retribution for the government's failure to follow the policies demanded by the terrorists. This gets to the heart of what terrorism is, and how it differs from other kinds of violence. Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic assault on civilians to inspire fear for political ends. Though one may quibble with this definition, for example by broadening "political ends" to include ideological or religious motives, it nonetheless captures the essence of terrorism--the purposeful attack on the innocent, those who are hors de combat, outside the field of legitimate conflict. In fact, the more removed the target of the attack from any connection to the grievance enunciated by the terrorists, the greater the terror. What possible connection is there between the kindergarten children savaged in an office building in Oklahoma to the purported grievances of the Patriots of Arizona? What do the incidental shoppers bombed in the World Trade Center in Manhattan have to do with the Islamic jihad? Yet for terrorism to have any impact, it is precisely the lack of connection, the lack of any possible involvement or "complicity" of the chosen victims in the cause the terrorists seek to attack, that produces the desired fear. For terrorism's underlying message is that everymember of society is "guilty," that anyone can be a victim, and that therefore no one is safe. Paradoxically, this all-encompassing characteristic of terrorist violence is also its undoing in democratic societies. The effect of fear is offset by an equal and often more powerful effect of revulsion and anger from the citizenry. By its very nature, the inhuman method chosen by the terrorists to achieve their aim disqualifies the aim from the start as one worthy of moral support. Though their professed purpose is invariably couched in the language of freedom and the battle for human rights, there is a built-in contradiction between such professed aims and the method chosen to implement them. In fact, the methods reveal the totalitarian strain that runs through all terrorist groups. Those who deliberately bomb babies are not interested in freedom, and those who trample on human rights are not interested in defending such rights. It is not only that the ends of the terrorists do not succeed in justifying the means they choose; their choice of means indicates what their true ends are. Far from being fighters for freedom, terrorists are the forerunners of tyranny. It is instructive to note, for example, that the French Resistance during World War II did not resort to the systematic killing of German women and children, although these were well within reach in occupied France. But in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge showed no such restraint in their war against what they saw as the American-supported occupation. France, of course, is today a democracy; Cambodia is merely another oneof the many despotisms where terrorists have come to power--and where they proceeded to carry out some of the most ghoulish crimes committed against humanity since World War II. Terrorists use the techniques of violent coercion in order to achieve a regime of violent coercion. They are undemocratic to the core, making use of the pluralism and freedom guaranteed by liberal societies in order to crush this very pluralism and freedom. The citizens of free countries understand this instinctively. That is why the terrorists' message has limited sway in capturing a broad following from among the democratic citizenry of the society they attack. Thus the Baader-Meinhof faction seeking to build a new German society failed to win the hearts and minds of German youth; thus the Red Brigades failed to sway the masses in Italy; thus the Japanese Red Army remained an utterly marginal group. None of them ever gained the sympathy of the public at large, and remained restricted to a few hundred followers, sometimes a few dozen. Compare this to the much more pervasive network of organized crime. Organized crime does not deal with the advancement of political ideas; it deals with the advancement of corruption, assisted by intimidation. It has many thousands of people on its payroll, and in some countries, most notably Italy, it penetrated all levels of society, up to members of the Cabinet. Graft requires no ideological persuasion. It speaks in the language of money, which is a universal tender, andtherefore has wide appeal. This is why organized crime is so difficult to uproot, while most forms of terrorism in the democratic countries are relatively easy to stamp out. This last statement needs to be examined, especially with regard to the United States. After all, America is the world's greatest democracy, and if terrorism cannot be successfully fought there, perhaps it is not a challenge as easily met as I have suggested. Indeed, in the rush of anxiety following the Oklahoma bombing, there was considerable concern in the United States that this bombing was a harbinger of a future wave of terrorist attacks against American society. It is true that the success of terrorism in one place often prompts imitation elsewhere, and in that regard it is not inconceivable that demented individuals and organizations will seek to replicate this tragedy. But I maintain that terrorism based exclusively in America is unsustainable and can be reduced to insignificance in short order--that over a few years at most, almost every one of these groups can be isolated, infiltrated, and disarmed. The most important reason for this is the fact that the American public is by and large inoculated ideologically against the spread of the terrorist virus--that is, against the beliefs which motivate the terrorists. Such ideological inoculation can be seen in an example gleaned from a different field: Two former KGB agents said on the CBS program 60 Minutes1 that they worked for twenty years out of the Soviet embassy in Washington, yet failed to recruit even a single Americancitizen to spy against the United States. The only ones who did work for them were Americans who walked in unsolicited through the gates of the embassy, and their sole motivation was money. This reflects the basic patriotism of Americans and their widespread belief in the premises on which their society is built--unlike, say, many Soviet citizens who did not share such convictions about the Soviet Union during the years of the Cold War. The belief in the peaceful resolution of disagreements, in the basic rights of other individuals, and in the law of the land--all these are the building blocks of a democratic education, indeed a democratic worldview, which forms an impenetrable wall in the mind of each citizen against participating in political violence. The possibility of persuading Americans that the indiscriminate bombing of other Americans is somehow going to be beneficial to the United States or the world is next to nil outside of the most lunatic fringe of society. This fact flies directly in the face of one of the most infamous pieces of revolutionary wisdom ever uttered: Mao Ze-dong's theory that the irregular violence of his "people's army" could not be resisted because his men would simply disappear into the friendly and supportive populace, swimming among them "like the fish in the sea." This theory may have worked in China in 1949. Massacred, starved, impoverished, and oppressed, parts of the Chinese populace may very well have constituted such a sea that could provide the guerrillas with succor, cover, and moral support. Most proponentsof modern terrorism have liberally borrowed this theory, interchanging "terrorists" for "guerrillas," and suggesting that these, too, would be able to disappear into the friendly people's sea. But no such sea exists in the United States in 1995, nor in virtually any other democratic country today. The potential sympathizers willing to listen to the cynical theories of terrorist ideologists and collaborate with them in their grisly deeds do not constitute a "sea" but a collection of puddles at most. The consequences of this reality for anti-terrorist law enforcement in a country like the United States are of the first order. For even in a nation as vast as America, the number of places in which any given terror initiative may be incubated or hatched is so small that it can usually be identifed with relative ease. Law enforcement officials know more or less whom to keep tabs on, and if they do not, the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens are willing and able to rapidly pool their knowledge and share it with the authorities. Thus within a day after the bombing in Oklahoma, federal investigators had literally thousands of leads offered them by ordinary citizens anxious to help. While the accused killer was apprehended by other means, the result of this public outpouring of support was that much of Timothy McVeigh's network of associates and potential supporters was laid bare to the scrutiny of both the police and the public within days. While not every terrorist group can be located quite this quickly, it is nevertheless true that the OklahomaCity bombers are not a needle in the haystack of American society; they are a needle in a bathtub, whose clear water ensures that their chances of hiding and getting away with their acts for very long is ordinarily exceedingly limited. One need only recall the short-lived exploits of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), whose brief spate of murders and robberies received notoriety with the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in 1974. The entire course of the SLA's violent history lasted just over a year. They were then forced into hiding and inactivity for several more months, until they were caught and wiped out by a Los Angeles Police Department SWAT team. It can be argued, however, that the one-hundred-year history of the Ku Klux Klan refutes this proposition. The Ku Klux Klan, after all, engaged in violent attacks against black Americans and others. But the Klan was an outgrowth of the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War. It was formed in the late 1860s, in a society which was largely supportive of an often violent resistance against the liberalizing norms being imposed by the North. The Klan really was living in a sea of covert and overt sympathy, which sometimes reached as far as protection by local law enforcement officials--hence its longevity and its ability to muster not only terror but actual mass membership reaching millions at its height in the 1930s. But by the mid-1960s, the culture had changed in the new South, and the Klan's appeal dried out accordingly. That is, until now. The investigation into the backgroundsof the suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing has led American law enforcement officials and journalists into a bewildering thicket of far-right, white supremacist and anti-federalist groups, often heavily armed, who in recent years have begun organizing themselves into local "militias"--in many cases actively planning to fight a civil war against the federal government. In this they vaguely echo the leftist anarchism of the minute Weathermen movement of the 1960s, but with a significant difference: Militia strength is now estimated to range from 10,000 to upward of 100,000, organized into a loose confederation with strongholds in thirty states, especially Montana, Idaho, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, and Florida. The fringes of the American right have always offered a certain support to antigovernment groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Posse Comitatus, and the Aryan Nations. In 1958, the John Birch Society was formed around the claims that the government was becoming dominated by Communist sympathizers, and arguing for limitations on the power of the federal government, the dismantling of the Federal Reserve System, and withdrawal from the United Nations. Periodically, radical splinters of this movement, from tax resisters to gun freaks, have had violent run-ins with federal agents. In 1983, for example, a member of the Posse Comitatus--a a movement of agrarian tax resisters claiming the IRS was an arm of "Zionist international bankers"--wanted for the slaying of two U.S. marshals, was himself killed in a shoot-out with federal agents in Arkansas. What makes this new "patriot movement" different is its ideological conviction that violent confrontation with what they view as a conspiratorial and authoritarian federal government has become inevitable--therefore making preparation for this conflict the duty of every true American patriot. "Patriot" ideology appears to have taken a turn toward paranoia with President George Bush's 1990 announcement of his intention to forge a New World Order under the aegis of the United Nations (of which the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein was to be the first test). The idea that the United States would somehow be subordinated to the UN, an organization particularly hated and distrusted in "patriot" demonology, was enough to drive some in the fanatic fringe to distraction. Though Bush handily won the war against Iraq, this did not prevent the New World Order from promptly evaporating; international efforts led by the United States under the banner of the UN quickly fizzled out in Somalia and elsewhere. Yet the "patriots" remained convinced that America was in the throes of a great foreign conspiracy. A popular culture, in the form of apocalyptic anti-federal government novels such as William Pierce's The Turner Diaries and computerized bulletin boards on the Internet began spreading frantic warnings of the coming showdown with an American government controlled, variously, by one or more of the usual suspects: Russia, Zionism, and the United Nations--not to mention that perennial favorite,the Trilateral Commission. What the entire genre has in common is the belief in an imminent effort by the federal government to seize private weapons, a belief which has reached fever pitch in the wake of two events: the August 1992 Idaho shoot-out between reputed white separatist Randy Weaver and U.S. federal agents, in which Weaver's wife and son lost their lives along with a federal marshal, and the April 1993 attack by the FBI on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in which more than seventy cultists were killed. Following these actions, many of the militias concluded that civil war was coming, and began to say so. Thus the Florida State Militia ...

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