OBAMA considers terrorism just one of many threats

An Inordinate Fear of Terrorism?

Bret Stephens, WSJ

In 1977, Jimmy Carter told Americans to get over their “inordinate fear of communism.” This year, expect to be told to get over your “inordinate fear” of terrorism.

Among politicians, the case is still being made sotto voce. When Barack Obama lists the “common threats of the 21st century” as “nuclear weapons and terrorism, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease,” the suggestion is that Islamist terrorism is one of many problems, and not, as John McCain insists, the “transcendent issue of our time.”

Among policy experts, however, the argument is being stated more baldly. “The fear of terrorism has reached the bogeyman threshold,” writes Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist formerly with the CIA. His new book, “Leaderless Jihad,” is worth reading if only because it makes the best of a bad case.

This case has been made before. “Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism,” wrote Larry Johnson, a former State Department counter-terrorism official, in a New York Times op-ed. “They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism. None of these beliefs are based in fact.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Johnson, his op-ed appeared in July 2001, two months and a day before 9/11. Mr. Sageman is a more sophisticated observer. He takes the terrorist threat seriously and understands that the U.S. is the chief target. He rubbishes most of the pop-sociological explanations for terrorism, including poverty, sexual frustration and so on. And he argues that, having mainly vanquished the old al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we are now faced with a “third generation” of jihadis who are disconnected from any kind of central organization and therefore harder to detect and thwart.

In Mr. Sageman’s account, this third generation is mostly a byproduct of Muslim anger about the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “The sight of U.S. soldiers fighting Muslims around the world triggers moral outrage and inspires sympathizers to join the movement,” he writes. “The sight of Muslims fighting back provides a heroic model to emulate.” By erasing the U.S. footprint in Iraq, “demilitarizing” the fight against terrorism, working toward a settlement for the Palestinians and otherwise assuaging Muslim sensibilities while making terrorism “uncool,” Mr. Sageman believes the air can slowly be let out of the jihadist balloon.

Implicit in this argument is the notion that, when it comes to fighting terrorism, doing less is more. As a political prescription, it fits nicely with the idea that the war in Iraq has only made our terrorism problem worse and that we can better address the threat as a criminal justice issue rather than as a “war” (as the U.S. mostly did during the Clinton administration). Mr. Sageman’s one caveat is that we cannot allow terrorists to regain the territorial sanctuaries they enjoyed prior to 9/11.

That caveat, however, turns out to be broad enough to drive a truck bomb through. Mr. Sageman believes the third generation of jihadis only came into existence with the near-destruction of the first two, achieved by force of arms in Afghanistan and maintained by the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops in the country. He insists that the war in Afghanistan did not have a galvanizing effect on the third generation, and that the sanctuaries that still remain to Osama bin Laden in the Pakistan hinterland don’t provide a particularly useful base for global jihad.

Really? Even before the U.S. toppled the Taliban, Yusuf Qaradawi, the most influential cleric in the Sunni world, took to the airwaves to insist that “Islamic law says that if a Muslim country is attacked, the other Muslim countries must help it, with their souls and their money, until it is liberated.” As for the Pakistani sanctuaries, a National Intelligence Estimate from last summer noted that al Qaeda had “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas, operational lieutenants, and its top leadership.” Those capabilities are now making themselves felt through suicide terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

No doubt the invasion of Iraq did spur a younger generation of jihadis to new fits of apoplexy, particularly in Europe. Yet when Mohammed Bouyeri murdered Theo Van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, he was reacting to Mr. Van Gogh’s film “Submission,” which uncharitably depicts the treatment of women in Islam. Similarly, when mobs burned down the Danish embassy in Beirut, the “rage” turned on a dozen or so offending cartoons. The threshold for jihadist violence, it turns out, falls below whatever levels are set by current U.S. foreign policy to include what used to be known as free speech.

Then, too, for all the anger over Iraq, it’s curious that it is Europe — with its hostility to the Bush administration and its longstanding Palestinian sympathies — that has borne the brunt of “third generation” terror. Mr. Sageman’s explanation rests on America’s habits of assimilation and the greater economic opportunities for Muslims here. But that merely suggests that one solution to third generation terror lies in more accommodative labor market and immigration policies in Europe, not U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

On the contrary, if recent experience in Iraq demonstrates anything, it’s that nothing is likelier to deter future terrorists than the defeat of existing ones. In letters captured by U.S. forces in Iraq late last year, al Qaeda “sheikhs” lament how the flow of foreign suicide bombers has dried up as the likelihood dims that their “martyrdom” will result in anyone’s death other than their own. There is, said one of these sheikhs about his dwindling minions, “panic, fear and an unwillingness to fight” ever since U.S. and Iraqi troops went on the offensive.

Which brings us back to the 39th president. Two years after he expressed a merely ordinate fear of communism, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. “History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons,” Mr. Carter said in his response. “But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.” Mr. Carter learned that the hard way. Let’s hope Mr. Obama won’t have to learn the same lesson, the same way.

March 4, 2008 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Linda and Bland after yesterdays primary we should consider H. Clinto the Dragon Lady from Lilliputian, might inch her way in after all, I don’t see hw that would be much of a help to us?

  2. Thank you, Linda Rivera, for your revelations.

    Keep them coming! I just searched Google News, to see if anyone was carrying the story you mentioned, using the keywords “Deheisha Obama”. Only one story, by “PR Newswire”, came up. If John McCain had been accused of supporting such a group, you can bet that the newswires would be buzzing for months; so it’s apparent that our mainstream “friends” at AP, Reuters, et al, are suppressing the story.

    Being faced with such incredible opposition in the world media, one is tempted to give up hope of espousing the cause of reason; but this is nothing new in the Jewish struggle for survival. I vividly recall having seen, in the movie “The Pianist”, the protagonist’s brother talking about the effect of distributing leaflets in the Jewish toilets (which the Nazi guards shunned because they were “unclean”). I thought, when I saw this, about what a hopeless battle those inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto were fighting! But those pamphlets led to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which served as the touchstone for the uprising of the Polish Underground. That, too, seemed like a hopeless cause; but it kept Polish nationalist aspirations alive during the long Soviet occupation that followed the Nazis, until Lech Walesa and Solidarno once again picked up the torch and overthrew the Russian bear. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, meanwhile, though defeated in battle, won the war; and their courage lived on among the outgunned and outnumbered soldiers of Palmach and Etsel — who, in spite of an international arms embargo imposed upon them by the United States and other Western countries, defeated their enemies and, after a 20-year struggle, restored Israel to the Jewish people.

    These are the thoughts that come to me when I see contributors here — such a whisper amid the shouting of a powerful, hostile media cartel — “preaching to the choir”, as it were, in our little group. We are like those ghetto Jews, putting forth a tremendous effort, just to be able to keep in touch with other Jews: encouraging those of like mind while convincing the doubters. But what we are doing is vital, and will ultimately have its effect. The event of conception never makes the newspapers; only the birth is announced, nine months later. So it is, with what we are doing here. Obama must be exposed; and it must needs happen here first. Again, thank you.


    Thank you for posting Bret’s article — with which I wholly concur, though he touches on so many points! I can comment on only one thing he said:

    When Barack Obama lists the “common threats of the 21st century” as “nuclear weapons and terrorism, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease,” the suggestion is that Islamist terrorism is one of many problems, and not, as John McCain insists, the “transcendent issue of our time.”

    Let’s look at these things, and consider how Barak’s “Neo-Chamberlainism” will deal with them:

    1. Nuclear weapons. The chief threats here are Iran and Pakistan. Iran is already a serious threat, and will have to be dealt with militarily. Obama’s advocacy of America running from responsibility in the Middle East will only exacerbate the problem with Iran, and it will have a disastrous effect in Pakistan: Without American support of anti-terrorist elements in that country, a Hamas-like group will get its fingers on the triggers of an already-in-place nuclear arsenal and delivery system. This is certainly a threat, but it is not independent of the Jihad problem: In fact, the Jihad problem is at the heart of it.

    2. Terrorism. Nearly all terrorist activity in the world is caused by the Jihadis. There is no comparison between the thousands of Americans killed in the Twin Towers, or the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed by Sunni suicide bombers, and other “terrorist” activities such as the torching of SUVs by anarchists.

    3. Climate Change. Convincing evidence is coming to surface, that Global Warming is not even caused by human activity — the climate is changing on uninhabited Mars, at the same rate that it is happening on earth; and the culprit seems to be a very normal “burp” in the activity of the sun. Jihadis are not to blame for this event, but neither can Obama, McCain nor anyone do anything about it. Everyone will just have to pack their bathing suits and move to Greenland.

    4. Poverty. Two thousand years ago, Jesus said, “The poor have you always with you”; and he has never been proved wrong. But if Obama is concerned with specific problems, the main cause of the impoverishment of the American Middle Class is globalization, which in turn has been caused by vast improvements in transportation and infrastructure during the 20th Century. Changing this is not so great a task as changing sunspot activity, but it is equally out of the grasp of any U.S. President. One thing that could cause a serious ripple in the economy, though, is jihadi activity in the Middle East — which seriously threatens oil production and transportation, should the U.S. and others let up on their pursuit of Al Qaeda and the ayatollahs (and their clients, like Hamas).

    5. Genocide. The principal active genocide going on today is the massacre of non-Arab Moslems in Sudan by the Islamic Fundamentalist Arab regime in that country, and the prinical genocide currently in the planning stage is the Iranian struggle to eradicate all Jews from Israel. The jihadi signature is unmistakeable here.

    6. Disease. I don’t know who has done more for fighting disease and hunger around the war than then American people; and this does not seem to have been affected one iota one way or the other by who has been President. Thanks largely to American support, international agencies have been set up to help out problem areas; but in the hardest-hit areas, such as the refugees in Sudan and Somalia, it is incredibly again Moslem “militants” who have hindered or stopped delivery of services.

    Barring the advent of warp-drive technology and the colonization of other galaxies, I see only one major issue facing American Presidents that they can effectively deal with: Jihadism. Any Presidential candidate who ignores that fact is leading his followers through La-la Land.

    Thank you again, Ted, for posting Mr. Stephens’ article.

  3. Obama and TERRORISTS

    Obama raised funds for Islamic causes
    Speeches for Palestinian refugees called code for Israel’s destruction
    February 25, 2008
    By Aaron Klein

    …Obama’s 1999 fundraising for the Palestinian Deheisha camp raised the eyebrows of one senior Israeli security official who was contacted yesterday for comment on the issue. The official, who was not aware of Obama’s fundraising, noted Deheisha, which is located near the city of Bethlehem, had a “very active” Palestinian terror apparatus in 1999, carrying out scores of deadly shootings against Israeli civilians that year.

    Two of the most deadly suicide bombings in 2002 also were planned from Deheisha, where the suicide bombers originated, said the security official.

    On one such bombing, in March of that year, 11 people were killed and over 50 injured, four critically when a Deheisha bomber detonated his explosives next to a group of Jewish women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave a nearby synagogue…

    Obama worked with terrorist
    Obama’s advocacy on behalf of Palestinians comes after WND reported yesterday the presidential candidate served on the board of the Woods Fund alongside William C. Ayers, a member of the Weathermen terrorist group which sought to overthrow of the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombings against government buildings…
    Obama adviser wants talks with terrorists
    Last month WND quoted Israeli security officials who expressed “concern” about Robert Malley, an adviser to Obama who has advocated negotiations with Hamas and providing international assistance to the terrorist group.

    Malley, a principal Obama foreign policy adviser, has penned numerous opinion articles, many of them co-written with a former adviser to the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, petitioning for dialogue with Hamas and blasting Israel for numerous policies he says harm the Palestinian cause…