It is now official. The USA is running for cover! 19 U.S. embassies in different parts of the Muslim world are being vacated due to fear of being attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. Presumably, the intent is to preclude a repeat of Al Qaeda killings of Americans in Benghazi. In essence, a small band of murdering thugs have brought the world’s most powerful military to its knees – rendered incapable to defend its country’s representatives. What should be done?
In order to truly vanquish the terrorists, there is a fundamental and very difficult issue that must first be confronted. When countries are attacked or threatened by terrorists, do they have a right to launch a counterattack against these violent aggressors if doing so will also harm uninvolved civilians?
The prevailing Western view is that terrorist host countries and their citizens are blameless non-combatants. Some even argue that they are essentially held hostage by the killers living among them. Hence, only the perpetrators themselves are guilty. All others are blameless innocents who may not be harmed. Hence, a country may not strike back at terrorists who typically hide among the civilian population.
One thing is certain. Throughout history, warfare entailed civilian casualties. WWII finally ended when atomic bombs killed over 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Had the U.S. not dropped those two bombs, it was estimated that as many as 1 million U.S. soldiers and even more Japanese would have lost their lives in a U.S. invasion of Japan itself.
Presumably, the allied leadership determined that they must decisively defeat the enemy or else they might eventually subjugate and kill our people. Furthermore, every day that the war dragged on entailed further loss of life. Although allied forces were primarily battling the enemy army, the murderers in leadership positions were supported by their people. In the interest of ending the conflict as soon as possible, it was therefore both advisable and proper to savage their country, even though that included civilians. Otherwise, far more human death on both sides of the conflict would have resulted.
What about the civilians among whom terrorists live? May they also be attacked as the Japanese were in WWII? I asked a highly esteemed scholar of ancient Jewish ethics this question, and he very emphatically stated that the civilians in whose midst terrorists reside share the guilt for their murders, and if necessary, they too may be attacked.
I would like to explain this position. If those people were truly opposed and revolted by such savagery as blowing up civilian aircraft or school busses, they would not tolerate such crimes being committed from within their midst. Clearly, the terrorists kill with the tacit support of the public, the police and government who do not intervene and attempt to stop their bloodshed.
By contrast, imagine someone who decided to fire deadly rockets from Niagara Falls, NY into downtown Toronto 20 miles away because he disapproved of Canada. If this occurred even once, an outraged USA and all its law enforcement agencies would mobilize a dragnet and not rest until the killer was apprehended and brought to justice. Now think of countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. For years, they have allowed the terrorists based in their midst to pursue ghastly murders in other lands. It is naive to think that the 150 million people living in Afghanistan and Pakistan are incapable of neutralizing the relatively few Al Qaeda in their midst. If they really wanted to, their police and army could easily exile, imprison, or execute the terrorists. This makes them all accomplices to the atrocities.
As humane people who abhor unnecessary bloodshed, the U.S. should issue a warning and give the countries where terrorists reside several weeks to expel, imprison or execute these killers in their midst; this will demonstrate evidence of their lack of complicity. After that time, any countries found harboring terrorists should be subject to all-out U.S. bombing of population centers. Needless to say, after any terrorist attack directed at the USA, we would automatically launch a sustained bombing of the civilian hosts who protected and hid those particular killers.
The execution of this policy may necessitate an actual bombing campaign against one or more violators. However, once the U.S. demonstrates that it plans to actually carry out its threat, the Muslim countries and their dictators who previously harbored terrorists will then literally trip over themselves in their rush to prove to the U.S. that every single terrorist in their midst has been eliminated. They will not put their own lives at risk so that visiting criminals can murder people elsewhere.
If the USA steadfastly adheres to this policy, the worldwide threat of terrorism will be quickly and dramatically reduced. Al Qaeda and the other terror groups will be on the run rather than the USA, and the world will become a far safer place in which to live.