Lessons for the Terrorist Attacks in London

by | Jul 8, 2005

The attack on London demonstrates, once again, that terrorists are not afraid. In order to understand why, you have to suspend all diplomacy and political correctness for a moment. Fanatical religious terrorists are people who are not afraid of dying because they fantasize a permanent and effortless state of happiness if they only bring misery […]

The attack on London demonstrates, once again, that terrorists are not afraid. In order to understand why, you have to suspend all diplomacy and political correctness for a moment. Fanatical religious terrorists are people who are not afraid of dying because they fantasize a permanent and effortless state of happiness if they only bring misery and destruction to others in this life. They have nothing to fear from George W. Bush, Tony Blair, or any of the well-meaning but generally hapless people who run our administrative security agencies. They don’t care.

President Bush keeps repeating that we’re not going to ever give in. No matter what they do to us, we’ll stay firm. Firm in what way? In Iraq? Terrorism isn’t merely about Iraq. Terrorism happens because some people want to destroy life on earth while others want to live it. Notice how terrorists don’t usually go after soldiers (although they do this). Their primary targets are working people, people on buses and people on subways. Or people in airplanes. They want to terrorize “regular people” so that regular people will, in turn, compel their leaders to cave in.

Therein lies the terrorist contradiction. If we give in to terrorism more and more, then what do we get in return? In the end, a society run by religious fanatics who choke any tiny ounce of joy out of living. Why would any remotely rational person ever give in to this? This is why sooner or later (and usually sooner, rather than later), people get back onto the airplanes, buses and highways. They always have and they always will because civilization, on its worst day, beats a typical day in the life of a terrorist (or a terrorist state, such as Iran) hands down.

There is a danger from this latest attack, beyond the obvious danger to those unfortunate people killed or injured in the attack itself. The debate in our society will now, quite possibly, take a turn. On the one side you will have George W. Bush and probably Tony Blair who will argue, in essence, that what we’re doing (that is, fighting in Iraq and frisking civilians at airports) is working and all we need to do is more of it. On the other side, you will find those who, like John Kerry last year, say that the United States is the problem rather than the solution, and in order to beat the terrorists we have to let the U.N. (made up of terrorist nations itself) take the lead. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that Kofi Anan and the socialist leaders of Europe will do for us what the cowboy George W. Bush failed to do, through appeasement and toleration of the intolerable. I don’t think so!

What will be missing from this debate between the Bush-Blair “hang toughers” and the wimpy appeasers is any recognition that maybe we’re not tough enough on the terrorists and the states who sponsor them. For example: why do we invade one terrorist state, Iraq, and then resolve to stay there until it becomes a civilized beacon of democracy, something that could take decades, centuries or perhaps never happen? Why don’t we merely destroy terrorist regimes and then, when a new one takes over, destroy that one too? I’m completely serious. We cannot save terrorist nations from themselves. Isn’t Iraq proof enough of this point? Getting rid of dictators, and stopping at that, would save us a lot of money, a lot of troops and would be both the moral and practical thing to do. It would pave the way for people who want to be free to establish institutions of freedom; and for nations dominated by people who aren’t especially interested in freedom, it would at least protect us for another period of time from the threat of the dictatorships they encourage and tolerate. In case that threat grew too large, need I remind you that the United States does possess a nuclear arsenal if it comes to that? Or, how about simply bombing the nuclear weapons plants we know to exist in places such as Iran and North Korea? You don’t want to start a war, you say? Earth to people: We already are at war. Yesterday’s attack on London, the worst since World War II, is proof of what I’m saying.

Now we know. It didn’t end on 9/11 and it won’t end with London, either. Terrorism, as I write this, is making a return journey to the U.S.A. because what we’re doing isn’t working. It’s clear that the Bush-Blair approach is failing. It’s clear that the appeasing, U.N.-dependent policy of the Clinton years didn’t work either, since that ultimately led to 9/11. Do we need to get softer–or tougher? I know the answer, but I fear there won’t even be a debate. If you agree with me, then help make sure there is one!

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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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