What would YOU do to fight terrorism if you were in charge?

Over in this thread The King of Soup said:

And that got me to thinking…

A lot of the items that are ‘fighting terrorism’ have struck me as ludicrous. The whole ‘taking peoples shoes off’ thing, for example. I understand why it’s done but it’s more a reaction than an action. It’s closing the door after the horse has escaped.

Well and good. But then I got to thinking about what we could do, without violating the constitution, to actually ‘fight’ terrorism. And it occurs to me that the nature of the fight might just make it impossible to have an effective pro-active response and maintain a free society (or as free as we like to tell ourselves we are).

In other words, to maintain a society in which economic, travel and speech freedoms are maintained at the levels to which we are accustomed then a certain amount of random or political violence is tolerated. To restrict freedoms in sufficient amount to curtail terrorism before it happens would require limiting right to speech, travel, economic and other freedoms that we currently enjoy.

How 'bout it?

Get Israel’s snout out of the trough until it is behind the 1967 borders (and help build a bloody great wall if that’s what they want) and work to establish a viable Palestinian state.

Begin an all-out attempt to break the hold oil has over the economy. Actually try and live up to our fine ideals for a change, including free trade.

Stop cosying up to dictators however convenient that is in the short term.

Stop propping up reactionary regimes in general.

Finish the bloody job in Afghanistan.

Apologise to Iraq and the world for the attack and fund a UN peace-keeping force under Muslim command.

In general - try and meet the legitimate grievances that underpin public support of terrorists - isolate the bastards so when we do kill some another dozen don’t take their place.

I think that the biggest problem that we face w/ combating terrorism is that much of the fight must be fought using the ‘police’ model rather than the ‘soldier’ model. Better investigative tools, accounting expertise, international cooperation and undercover operations into terrorist cells/camps seem to be better at heading off plots before they materialize.

However, the problem we face is that the people want to see things being done, whether they are effective or not. There’s a certain catharsis in razing a town of ‘evildoers’ or checking people’s shoes at the airport, etc. So we flail at the mosquitoes swarming us rather than draining the pond.

I told my wife, way back when the ‘war on terror’ began, that this would not be ended by tanks, bombs, or armies. However, it could be won by a team of accountants and 3 or 4 guys with really sharp knives. No amount of destruction on our part, and no amount of ‘defensive’ measures can save us indefinitely.

What could one do to prevent terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber or the Wasington Sniper? Very little, really. One must simply take heart that once a certain level of democracy and industrialisation is attained, such atrocities become extremely rare.

There will always be isolated groups of psychopaths, and it will always be possible for them to do great harm should they so choose, especially if they can afford some false documentation or the like. We must simply monitor or restrict their means to do so (charting fertiliser shipments and restricting private ownership of certain weapons etc.) and seek to acheive industrialised democracy worldwide.

  1. Treat Israel like just another country in the Mideast.
  2. Stop supporting bloody-handed tyrants just because the are right-wing killers rather than left-wing killers.
  3. Make greater use of bribery and assassination to handle thugs like bin Laden. Military power is too blunt an instrument for the job.

I agree entirely. When we do kill the few (rather then the many), we must make sure that whatever their beliefs are it does not benefit them to carry out a terrorist act.

Take for instance a suicide bomber hoping to get his 72 virgins and rivers of wine, if you hose him down with pigs blood you deny him entry to the afterlife (in his belief system) and therefore set a precedent that may prevent others following suit.

Personally as a “100% secular humanist” I don’t care what they spray on my corpse once I’m dead.

We are much more likely to win the “War on Terror” through small scale police actions than large scale military operations that completely fail to win “hearts and minds”, but we (the west) must recognise the inequalities caused by our actions and put them right.

The best weapon would be a middle east peace deal, which would reduce/negate the current stream of new recruits to the ranks of the terrorists provided an honorable accomodation can be reached between Israel and Palestine.

  1. Before invading harmless and marginalized countries which didn’t attack us, ensure that the security of the US is ensured by things such as upgraded port inspections and realistic intelligence gathering efforts in foreign nations and at home using legal means. This means hiring lots and lots of spies who know Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, etc… as well as French and German and Russian. We need to know where they are and what they can do, and we quite frankly don’t know enough. It also means hiring lots of people who know how to use a silenced pistol, a knife, or a bomb and aren’t afraid to do so.

1a. If we do illegally invade a sovereign nation, ensure adequate planning for ‘unforseen consequences’ such as the populations of countries we have illegally invaded not really laying down arms and throwing roses at our troops when they have invaded. Basically, get the right people in to ‘win the peace’ rather than sending in front-line troops who aren’t trained for it.

  1. Address the root concerns of fundamentalist groups and fix those concerns that do not conflict with legitimate national interests. Rebuild countries we have legitimately invaded back to at least pre-war levels. For those concerns that fundamentalist groups have with us that we can’t fix, try to find some middle ground or commit to some method for destabilizing those fundamentalist groups. Also, ensure that we have a distinct separation of church and state within our own country to ensure that we aren’t anything like them.

  2. Institute a Marshall-plan-like engagement for the Middle East, including Israel. If any country does not accept this, cut off all aid including NGO aid to them and institute economic sanctions against them. This includes also our ‘allies’ such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

  3. Spend immense amounts of money on cutting the US’s dependence on fossil fuels. Without oil’s importance and the cheapness of it to the western countries, the Middle East can just go rot.

  4. Require all Americans to take extensive training in history and especially in the Middle East. If they are going to hate us, we should at least try to understand why and come up with a reasoned discourse on how to address it rather than simply regurgitate assinine catch phrases.

I’m pretty certain that that idea falls into the ‘just making everything worse’ category.

I would just go and hunt terrorists.

Which is extremely difficult cmopared to the relative duckshoot that is hunting suspected terrorists.

I agree that resolving the situation in the Middle East is key to defusing the threat of terrorism. However, I think it is also important to begin a very vocal discussion in American and other nations about Islam.

The rheteroic I hear in much of the mainstream media is usually regarding extremist mulsims. The faith is never presented in terms of the majority of its followers beliefs. This, I believe, is further strengthening division between followers of Islam and the western nations. I think our anti-Muslim rhetoric will onyl serve to push moderate muslims over to the extremist side as they see their religion bastardized more and more by the west.

  • Rebekkah

If you were a candidate for U.S. President I’d be writing a check to your campaign right now.

We need to begin a massive, full-court propaganda campaign tto undermine support for terrorists in the Middle East.

Hearts & minds, people.

Yep, just throw in bolstered homeland security that involves something a bit more constructive than “Orange Alerts”, of the sort GomiBoy mentioned in item 1 of his list. Nice, succinct list, tagos.

Or we could maybe not conduct full-scale invasions of entire nations that, for some odd reason, have lots of oil, but no terrorists in them, despite our “finest” intelligence.

  1. Terrorists do it for the publicity. I’d ask the news media to cease and desist reporting on terrorist acts, terrorist threats, or terrorist groups. Or if they feel they must (and they do), scale it way back. I think it’s a real problem, for instance, that suddenly the Chechen problem got this brief window of attention only after Chechen terrorists massacred children in a school. How can they not learn from that that terrorism is an effective tactic - the more heinous the better?

  2. Hold the Saudis accountable for their role (huge) in the problem. We’re afraid to do that because of their stranglehold on the oil (this is my pet theory why we invaded Iraq to begin with, to give the Saudis some serious competition in the oil market so they couldn’t put the screws to us any time they felt like it.

  3. At first glance, I like Bush’s plan of economically rewarding Muslim countries who help us fight terrorism by opening our markets to them. (I say only at first glance because I have to think more about this).

  4. Pour a lot of money into making the visa application process up to date. That means it should be fast and accurate, making it easy for students who should be here to get in and stay (we want foreign students to learn about the U.S. and have contact with us) and quick and easy to determine who shouldn’t be here.

I’m not of the opinion that our policies (the war or supporting dictatorships) are the primary cause for terrorism, though they do tend to play into the terrorists’ rhetoric. I do agree with Pat Robertson’s comment I heard the other day that the price of empire is terrorism. Unfortunately I’m thinking it’s the economic empire that’s at least as threatening than even the military empire. And I’m not sure that anyone advocates scaling back our economic or cultural influence. So I think solutions like “not invading x” or “not supporting y” will not solve the problem.

Oh my god, I’m a republican.

Fat chance of that. If it bleeds, it leads, as they say. The “news media” give the audience what they want to see. Don’t blame them. Blame the watchers.

We already have a $25 million reward out for Bin Ladin. So far that hasn’t worked yet.

Nobody said anything about viability here. This sounds at least as viable as “resolving the problems in the middle east.”

But, seriously, I blame the media happily. They knew that the massive wall to wall coverage they gave the first beheadings was what made the problem snowball, so eventually they stopped doing it on their own. So they can show some restraint when the consequences are really blindingly obvious.

And If we are going to talk about curtailing constitutional rights there’s always the first amendment to consider. Personally I’d rather see legal restrictions on reporting of terrorist activities than people detained sans habeas corpus. Publicity sustains terrorism more than $.

We could also not re-elect Presidents that lead misguided full-scale invasions, as a sign to the rest of the world that such incompetent self-serving amoral behavior will not be endorsed by the American people.

(But then someone waves a poster of two gay men getting married, and it’s all so much wishful thinking…)