The Best Defense is a Superior Offense

by | Oct 6, 2003

Some say our “War on Terror” should consist mainly of bolstering security here at home, not military action abroad. But “homeland security” is no more the answer to Islamic terrorism than smoke alarms is to arson. Fighting back– not dodging blows– is the chief component of self-defense. Limiting self-protection to merely avoiding getting hit is […]

Some say our “War on Terror” should consist mainly of bolstering security here at home, not military action abroad.

But “homeland security” is no more the answer to Islamic terrorism than smoke alarms is to arson.

Fighting back– not dodging blows– is the chief component of self-defense. Limiting self-protection to merely avoiding getting hit is a charter of liberty for any would-be aggressor–and the would-be defender’s death decree.

To illustrate, imagine if out of 1000 attempts at terrorism on American soil, authorities manage to foil 999. A superb statistic, but what about the one act that slipped through? If a fireball boils one of our cities, would enemies watching events unfold on TV be deterred by the fact that their people fail 99.9% of the time? Or rather would they be roused by their one success?

That’s the problem with a “hunker down” strategy: Enemy regimes, freed from the worries attending being attacked, have the luxury then of focusing on one thing only: executing their plans (while, of course, sufficiently distancing themselves from their terrorist operatives for pragmatists to claim there’s no “smoking gun”).

The hamstrung defenders, by contrast, are in the exact opposite position: they have to worry about everything. They must try to anticipate and fend off hundreds of possible variations of thousands of possible plots in millions of possible locations, day in and day out, indefinitely.

When the defenders go on “high alert,” the schemers can lie low. When the defenders smell a rat in one part of the country, the plotters can strike another. When the defenders concentrate on bridges and dams, the attackers can hit shopping malls. When the defenders react by beefing up mall security, the killers can explode gas stations.

If someone suggested a football team can win solely by playing defense — by exclusively guarding the end zone while never moving the ball downfield to score– he’d be branded a fool. If a coach pulled that stunt, he’d be accused of trying to throw the game. And should he protest that his “strategy” makes him no less loyal to his team than coaches who actually play to win are to theirs, he’d be laughed out of town.

Yet Americans who bash Bush for attacking hostile regimes and taking the war to the enemy (to the inadequate degree he has), insist they, too, are being “patriotic.” Apparently to them patriotism means keeping America a sitting duck.

The War on Terror–which should actually be a formally declared war on specific nations, firstly Iran, not on their beloved tactic, terrorism–will not be won by reshuffling agencies at the Homeland Security Department. It can only be won by completely unleashing the Defense Department.

Given free reign to use any weapons needed to do the job with least American casualties, our forces should be ordered to wipe out regimes that lend material sustenance or spiritual sanction to Islamic terrorists.

Why slay these governments and not just their hired guns? Answers former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Terrorists are not suspended in mid-air. They train, arm and indoctrinate their killers from within safe havens on territory provided by terrorist states. Often these regimes provide the terrorists with intelligence, money and operational assistance, dispatching them to serve as deadly proxies….” [1]

Victory requires acting on the above truth. It requires steely resolve to put steel-on-target– on any target in enemy territory our commanders wish, military or civilian, even religious.

Let the tyrant in Libya worry about guarding his airports. Let the thugs ruling Syria fret over the safety of their office buildings. Let fanatics in Iran be the one’s sweating their “homeland security.” Let the Saudi princes stress over protecting their country’s treasures– such as how to keep Mecca from getting leveled.

Toppling these governments will not necessarily stop terrorists pre-positioned in America from lashing out, of course. Indeed, such sweeping US victories would likely send Islamic radicals into apoplexy. But so what? So what if before we can make our enemies dead, we make them mad?

Beheading a rattlesnake after being bitten won’t remove the venom already inside you. But it will keep the snake from striking again.

Only by beheading terrorists states will we stop the flow of their venom. Only by obliterating the hotbeds of militant Islam will we deprive our foes the motivation behind their terror– hope. For it is the “hope of terrorists,” observes Netanyahu, “…that their savagery will break the will of their enemies and help them achieve their objectives….” [2]

Their foremost objective is the destruction of America. Let us deprive them of that hope. Let us fight this war as if our lives, not theirs, matter.

[1] Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement before the Government Reform Committee, September 20, 2001

[2] Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech before the U.S. Senate, April 10, 2002.

Wayne Dunn writes about political and cultural events from an Objectivist perspective.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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