Saturday, August 12, 2006
This week's interdiction of a plot to destroy ten jumbo jets flying from Britain to the United States was, apparently, just the tip of the iceberg. The Independent reports that there were to have been simultaneous attacks throughout the United Kingdom:
Suspected terrorists were planning to unleash a wave of "apocalyptic" attacks on land and air, using an arsenal of bombs and weaponry, including firearms, investigators have discovered.
Police and intelligence sources have indicated that the alleged plot which was thwarted last week was targeted at the UK, as well as at airliners heading for the US, and could have caused devastating loss of life and destruction on the British mainland. One Whitehall source said "many dozens" of plots were under investigation, involving "hundreds" of suspects.
Had these attacks gone off, what would have been the response in Britain and the United States? Would they have been the same? Will the fact that they were interdicted by "law enforcement" rather than a fundamentally military response tend to diminish support for the latter in favor of the former, even in the United States? Are attacks of this breadth and magnitude indicative of war, or crime?
The following may be a little OT but it is related to your post
I find it interesting of how widespread and believed is the red herring about non-state terrorist entities. Except, maybe for AQ, which obviously does not exist in a vacuum, there are no trans-national terrorist entities! There are national groups which use terror tactics to achieve political aims within a particular country and which are counteracted by state police and/or military forces e.g. in the Philippines or Indonesia. All other groups which operate outside the borders of the country where they are based are state-sponsored! One may chose to ignore this fact but that does not make less true.
Once this simple and straight forward fact is understood, combating terrorism becomes either an internal police action or war between two states.
As Hezbollah prisoners confirm, they are trained in Iran, after passing through Syrian military bases, armed by Iran and paid by Iran. If that is not state-sponsored I do not know what it is!
The attempted attack on the planes and in the UK it is in my opinion domestic terrorism and properly handled by police action.
The crime vs. war conundrum highlighted by the aftermath of these busts is only just getting off the ground. It is troublesome to think about what it might portend, if indeed al-Qaeda's number 1 UK operative has been captured, and if he should be released or acquitted based on some hypertechnicality.
In struggling with these issues I have concluded that our Western tradition has reached what biologists might call an "evolutionary dead-end" with regard to civil rights. A highly-evolved system is in place, but evolution is not an end in itself, particularly if it confers no survival advantage.
We would do well to observe, as Ari Shavit does, that there can be no hope for the survival of Athens without a speck of Sparta.
We prefer to see difficulties as criminal, because they feel more contained to us, and we feel safer. Acknowledging that something might be war requires an adjustment in political attitude and willingness to sacrifice that we prefer to avoid.
So - we will try to downgrade everything to "criminal" until enough people are willing to declaring that this in inadequate, and some other response is needed.
Hopefully the Brits can show us the way...so far the MI5 has done what it's needed to do...now their courts need to do likewise...
...hopefully, they'll tie the perpetrators to known affiliates and if one of them (e.g. AQ) has been known to attack us or committed war crimes, then they'll be treated in a military court...
...stiff upper lip Brits might stick to the plan; whereas in the states, the plan might cave at the first crying mother, ACLU lawyer, or CAIR protest...
The war versus crime question seems to me to obscure the real issues; the struggle we are engaged in is without question a war. One of our enemies, the Iranian mullocracy, has been at open war with the US since 1979.
In this struggle, in certain circumstances -- clearly in the present case in Great Britain, for example -- police intervention will be the correct tool. In other circumstances a military response will be warranted. We are making this up as we go along. In Afghanistan, we were lucky; our military response was dramatically effective (not that problems don't linger). In Iraq, we were much less lucky, and our tactics have had to evolve (too slowly, in my view).
The British terror plot has its origins -- in part, at least -- in Pakistan, a country "allied with" Great Britain and the US, but with vast regions, both rural and urban, given over to Islamic fascists, and with infiltration of the fascists into a major government institution, the ISI. Do we go to war with Pakistan? Do we try to get Musharaf to purge the ISI (elements of which have twice tried to assassinate him, if what I have read is true)?