Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Some Recommended Reading

Some good stuff over at NRO today...

Bryon York, "Off Course."

Michael Ledeen, "When People Freely Choose Tyranny."

Jack Dunphy, "Arresting a Crime Wave." (Actually, this is from yesterday. But it's still worth reading.) (It also regards illegal immigration - more on this from me later this week. Probably.)

But what I really wanted to point out to you is Jay Nordlinger's
latest report from the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. He's been reporting from there for a week now, but today he reports on a panel session featuring Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, FBI Director Mueller, EU counterterrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries, and the head of the German intelligence service August Hanning, among others. The entire discussion is interesting, but there are two parts I want to highlight:
And then comes maybe the most delicious moment of the entire Annual Meeting, my friends: A lady in the audience accosts Michael Chertoff. She says, "You're always focusing on the symptoms — what about the root causes?" (I'm abridging her question substantially. But she's a root-causes lady.) Chertoff says, "We focus on the symptoms, because the symptoms kill you. And our first obligation is to make sure people don't get killed. But we focus on the root causes as well, and . . ."

Chertoff speaks very well about the root causes. But that initial answer — "The symptoms kill you" — weighs heavily on the mind.

And this:
Have some more de Vries, who is absolutely commanding, both in language (English) and in argumentation. "I am uncomfortable," he says, "with this notion of 'root causes,' because it suggests a nice, lineal relationship between a cause and terror. The more we explore, the more we find that no such simple relationship exists." But there are problems that feed terror: lack of good governance, for one. Lack of freedom, really.

That seems almost too simple to state, but it's far from too simple for some. For a great many, actually.
And there is the rub.

For years, we have been preached to about the "root causes" of terrorism, especially poverty. That all of the September 11th attackers are affluent or upper-middle class is ignored. That many of the Islamic volunteers joining the battle in Iraq or Al Qaida and Taliban-allied groups in Afghanistan also come from similar well-to-do backgrounds is also ignored.

Go back to that phrase - "no such simple relationship exists."

There will be terrorists, just as there will be pirates, will be rapists, will be thieves. The question is what we willing to do about it.

Are we willing to do what it takes, to take the battle to the enemy, to commit to keeping weapons of mass destruction out of their hands, to smash them wherever we can find them? The current state of the American will implies the answer is no.

Hopefully, I'm reading the tea leaves wrongly. Because if I see things correctly, that means we will ultimately lose.

UPDATE: And there's this in The Corner:
HOW COME YOU MORONS CAN'T CRACK AL QAEDA'S COMMUNICATIONS? [Andy McCarthy]This is from the WPost's report this morning about yesterday's release of a tape Qaeda No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, "taunting" President Bush over our recent failure to vaporize him:
M.J. Gohel, a terrorism analyst and chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London, said it appeared that Zawahiri and bin Laden had coordinated their recent messages. He said it was noteworthy that al Qaeda's leaders had fashioned an effective system of communication that Western intelligence agencies have been unable to penetrate.
Meanwhile, here in Oz, the U.S. Senate has decided to conduct a hearing Monday to grill high government officials about whether they have violated the law by trying to penetrate al Qaeda's communications. During wartime. While al Qaeda is trying to blow up American cities and kill American civilians. How hard must Zawahiri be laughing?

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