Today, I pass along a few wise words about terrorism from Danielle Pletka, of the American Enterprise Institute. You’ve heard some of them before, but since our leaders have no notion of how to fight terrorism, they are worth repeating.
First, terrorism has been around for quite some time. When it was directed against Israel, no one much cared. In fact, many serious Western thinkers-- especially on the left-- tended to believe that the Israelis had brought it on themselves. Before BDS, leftists gave their seal of approval to terrorism as a tactic. If they did not understand that Israel was merely a proxy for Western civilization, they should now.
When terrorism was directed by Iran, no one much cared either. After all, the ayatollahs took power in Iran with the blessing of Pres. Jimmy Carter. In the Democratic playbook, if you can’t blame it on a Republican, it’s not a problem. And yet, once the Iranians showed that terrorism could work, other branches of Islam got into the business.
Pletka offered this truth:
The truth is that Middle East rooted terrorism has been a growing scourge for decades. Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, ISIS and the many other variants of these Islamist extremists have been killing Americans, Europeans, and thousands and thousands of Muslims for too long. It’s not just Syria that is a hotbed that has catapulted the likes of ISIS to the fore; the Islamic Republic of Iran employs terrorism every day as a regular tool of its foreign policy.
And we do not take it very seriously. Perhaps we have the right emotional reaction and even the most poignant hashtags, but we are not fighting it as well as we can or should. In fact, we and the rest of the West has tolerated terrorism. In other parts of the world—think China—they do not tolerate it and therefore have less of it:
And the honest truth is that the United States has tolerated that terrorism, whether directed against US troops in Beirut or in the seas off Yemen or on the ground in Saudi Arabia or in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia or at home. We are fighting, almost casually, three wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria without any clear strategy and frankly, without any clear goal. “Degrade and destroy” have become meaningless tropes trotted out when a bored reporter wonders why we’re still there. But we are not degrading or destroying.
Why do the Islamists continue to practice terrorism? Because, Pletka writes, it works. It garners attention for a failing civilization and makes it a player on the world stage. Better ignominy than anonymity:
Islamist extremism and terrorism will continue to flourish for as long as it is an effective tool, for as long as the price to those who practice that terror is low. What price does Iran pay for Hezbollah? What price does Qatar pay for supporting al Qaeda or its offshoots? Are drone strikes really an adequate response?
What should our policy goal be? We need to increase the cost of terrorism. We need to inflict some serious punishment on the sponsors of terrorism. And that is not just al Qaeda and ISIS. It sounds strange to say so, but we cannot continue to make deals and negotiate with the leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, without telling the world that terrorism pays.
We need to show that terrorists are losers. Until we do so, it will continue.
In Pletka’s words:
Rather, we must recognize that we are in a broad, long and dangerous ideological and physical war against a determined, serious, strategically minded enemy and act accordingly. That means finding allies on the ground that wish to defend their nation, their religion and their people as much as we wish to protect ours, and seriously enlisting, training, funding, arming and empowering them to do battle against the enemy. It means helping them as we have been in places like Iraq, but more seriously, with more firepower and conviction and real military, political and economic goals. Only when terrorists and their sponsors begin to lose will the so-called lone wolves begin to think better of their choices. “Join the losers” has never been a clarion call to fight.