Saturday, August 20, 2005

More Rule-Changes (Voluntary or Otherwise)

Way back when, on August 6th of this year, in response to the recent bombings in London, I discussed how the rules should change, ie how nation-states should alter their methodology in handling domestic "sleeper-cell" terrorism. And while I respect the fact that individual rights are -- and must remain -- a cornerstone of Western democracies, I support -- then and now -- the need for some shifting of how nations handle this universal and growing problem.

However, despite the clear and present need for a shift in the way each nation-state handles less-than-beneficial activity and conspiracy within their own borders, there too needs to be a change in the way nations address this type of activity outside its borders as well. For this discussion, we'll forego the de facto dogma of international law and simply accept the fact that every industrial nation has some measure of watchful eyes in every other industrial nation. From Israel to Greece to the US to England to Japan to China to Russia, every nation -- with and without permission -- has operatives keeping an eye on its fellow nations.

To wit, according to an article on this morning, the US government initiated unofficial contact with a member of the Taliban government -- identified as Wakil Ahmed, "a close aide to Taliban leader Mullah Omar" -- soon after the al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which claimed approximately 200 American lives. In all likelihood, the contact was initiated as a result of these attacks. The topic of the discussion: the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Despite the usual diplomatic back-and-forth -- notable since the US never officially acknowledged the Taliban as the proper government of Afghanistan -- the Clinton Administration didn't take action against bin Laden. In its place, Clinton ordered the bombing of an al Qaeda training camp in Khost. Ahmed, the aforementioned Taliban aide who had met with officials prior to the US bombing in Khost, had alternatively suggested the US consider eliminating bin Laden, as Omar regarded bin Laden as innocent in the US Embassy bombings. According to the article, Ahmed "said that the U.S., if it chose to do so, could arrange to have bin Laden killed by cruise missiles or other means, and there would be little the Taliban could do to prevent it."

The attacks on New York and Washington on 9/11/01 took place approximately two years after the above-described meeting occurred.

I've alluded to the Clinton Administration's inaction vis-a-vis Osama bin Laden in these pages before, mostly (but not exclusively) in response to people suggesting George W. Bush's actions as President -- specifically, the war in Iraq -- are excessive and will engender ill will towards the US. People tend to forget that Bill Clinton had the opportunity -- and a quasi silver-plated, engraved invitation from the Taliban -- to eliminate bin Laden, whether by cruise missile (as Ahmed suggested) or by well-coordinated ground personnel. The limited US casualties and the possible political cache lost in this ghost operation would have been far preferable to the losses incurred on 9/11 and in Iraq. Yet people continue to point a finger at the Bush Administration's action in response to terrorism as the cause of ill will towards this country. That's something I cannot quite understand. In either case, my response has been measured -- while I agree that, on some level, the Bush Administration has gone overboard in certain cases, I think it's fairly clear, at least in the context of the aforementioned article, that inaction is akin to pouring gasoline on an open flame.

It seems to me that this example confirms, for better or worse, the war on terror requires constant action. Whether or not most Muslims are peace-loving people, the fact is that there are extremists within the ranks of same, hiding in plain sight, spewing and dogmatically obeying bile and hate. They're strapping on explosive belts in the Middle East, blowing up buses in Europe, fire-bombing synagogues in Eastern Europe, and they're hiding like cockroaches in safe-houses, flats, houses and dormitories all over the West. This problem is not something that will slowly fade, nor will it ever be truly eliminated. But it's clear that the way the nation-states of the West have previously handled this problem must change.

Firstly, the US -- together with other nations -- should, unofficially or otherwise -- rethink its position on policy assassination. Officially, the US eschews the use of assassination and opts for diplomatic solutions to problems with certain individuals. As of today -- if not sooner -- that policy should officially change. In his book "Vengeance," George Jonas discussed the massacre at the Olympics in Munich of the Israeli Wrestling Team by Muslim extremists, and discussed how -- following that tragic event -- Israel recruited a variety of Mossad agents to find each of the perpetrators and -- in lieu of bringing them to justice -- kill them.

The US, as well as other Western nations, should learn from this. Rather than await world reaction to the conditions -- good, bad or otherwise -- at Gitmo, the bulk of the "enemy combatants" should not be protected by the Geneva Convention or any other attempt at morality. These are people -- if they can be called that -- who have rather comfortably severed the heads from civilians and journalists as political statement -- so rather than burden our courts with this problem, I believe we must employ the SEALs and the other special ops units in our military to do their jobs and insure people who take up arms against the US are sent home in boxes, not via diplomatic exchanges or deportation proceedings.

It's about time for change, don't you think?
The Who - Had Enough

I've had enough of bein' trodden on
My passive days are gonna be long gone
If you slap one cheek, well, I ain't gonna turn the other.

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