The Americans are getting ready to withdraw from Afghanistan at a designated date, but not in wild retreat like the red-faced Soviets. One of the reasons the U.S. is able to luxuriate in an orderly withdrawal is its ability to adopt the tactic of using small UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] for the targeted killing of terrorist operatives. The UAVs were what overcame al-Qaeda and the Islamists and their terrorist threats, and that turned these terrorists from being free agents into "sitting ducks." The UAVs were what made it difficult for these Taliban opium-growers to continue killing the over-equipped American soldiers who were trying to locate them in those snow-capped mountains and high craggy cliffs of Afghanistan.
There are, however, people in the West who criticize the targeted killings of the Taliban; they claim that fair trials were not given these terrorists. The result, however, was that it was those aerial assaults that brought the Taliban leaders, at least for a short time, to the negotiating table in the new glass-and-steel offices in Qatar.
An armed USAF Predator drone. (Source: U.S. Air Force)
Now, on the eve of the final withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban have made clear that they are ready to meet in a show of good faith with the UN, the Americans and the government of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai to find a peaceful solution under the auspices of the international community.
The Taliban, although they still refuse to recognize the Karzai administration, have even promised not to launch more attacks from their territory into neighboring countries. They identify themselves as the "Islamic Taliban Emirate," and promise a military campaign against any invader. Their statement was filled with ambiguous expressions, generalizations and problems yet to be solved; among them, their intention of establishing a consensus Islamic rule of an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan -- after they destroy what they refer to as the "occupation" of Afghanistan.
Although this initiative of the Taliban is a product of the upcoming withdrawal of troops, the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and the formation of a coalition of Sunni Arabs against Iran, it is mainly a product of the massive losses the Americans caused them in Afghanistan's mountains. The next bloody conflict is already on the horizon. President Karzai has demanded that the peace talks be held in Afghan territory, and he conditioned any future interaction with the Taliban on its ending its terrorist campaign and stopping its operatives from acting as proxies beyond Afghanistan's borders. The Taliban agreed, but claimed it had not yet been given guarantees from the Afghan government that the agreements would be honored.
What made the Taliban consent to talk to the West was, yet again, the determined American use of military force based on reliable intelligence -- and the targeted killings.
The lesson of Middle East has been that enforcing justice in this merciless corner of the world can only be accomplished with a loaded gun and the readiness to use it. For this reason, the West's condemnation and wringing of hands against wiretapping, the prisoners' conditions in Guantanamo and targeted killings carried out by UAVs are a symptom of either alarming sanctimony or alarming ignorance.
Neither Western intelligence nor the conditions of internment and interrogation will ever deter Islamic terrorism in the Middle East -- or anywhere else. The terrorists regard them as a joke, especially compared to the techniques used by their own intelligence services.
When, as Arabs, we see how Western society, especially in the United States, agonizes over everything concerning the legal system and the rights of the individual, we can only conclude that American-style democracy is a recipe for self destruction, and that the last thing we should do is adopt it. It seems obvious that we should use America's lack of commitment to its own existence to carry out Islam's global mission.
American tears shed over finding the "correct" defense against Islamic terrorism require the following question: If your children were captured by Islamic terrorists and held in a basement along with a bomb, would you consider tapping their phone? If you had to torture a suspect to find out where the terrorists were hiding your children, would you torture them? To keep your children alive, would you kill a terrorist on his way to detonate the bomb, or would you worry about due process? Or would you hide your eyes with your hands like a five year-old and pretend it was not happening? Once you have answered those questions to yourself honestly, give all the victims of Islamic terrorism the same status as your own children -- because they are someone's children, and one day might be yours.
Western "dilemmas," wrapped in the cloak of morality, are weakness -- they are not moral in the least. As a person worried about the radical Islamic takeover of the Middle East, I am convinced that it is this pseudo-moral sophistry that makes possible the success of totalitarian Islam. Its laws compel the terrorists to win in the future and to use force to realize their goal of world domination. If someone uses guns while you use politeness, you cannot win -- the way Indians lost South America to Spain and Portugal.
The Americans and Europeans truly do not seem to understand radical Islam's determination to take over the world, patiently and by force -- and this failure weakens their ability to defend themselves. They do not seem to understand that their worst crime is against themselves, and that their most daunting obstacle is political correctness. It keeps them from speaking openly, from calling terrorism by its name, and defining its dangers, lest they be accused -- by the terrorists and their supporters, lackeys and proxies -- of "Islamophobia" or "racism."
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The Western public suffers from a critical gap in knowledge; it is this ignorance that keeps them from understanding the motives and methods of radical Islam. The result is that they cannot individually and publicly make preparations to defend themselves. If someone is determined to dominate you, but you are not just as determined not to be dominated, you will be dominated.
The Western public also seem unaware of the need to protect the rights of the individual. As the public is not exposed to daily threats, but only to the consequences of terrorist attacks carried out in Europe and the United States, it does not understand the direct connection between between surveillance and prevention. After an attack, the public aims its criticism not at the attackers but at the security services, accusing them of having failed. In reality, however, out of concern for the freedom of the individual, the public does not give the security services either moral or legal support, or the tools they need to fight
Every terrorist therefore profits from anything that paralyzes the authorities. The burden, then, of preventing terrorist attacks falls on the shoulders of the authorities -- but without the support of a public who is able to understand these threats, and who is ignorant of what is needed to fight them.
The security agencies designated to protect civilians therefore need to provide a full and truthful picture of the enemy, along with sufficient intelligence to prevent his actions. Unfortunately, however, political correctness, the wish not to have to put one's hands into the dirt, and anxiety over creating a fear in the public that might be turned be against them, as in "shoot the messenger," prevent them from making the public aware of the seriousness of the threat, or giving them the necessary information.
The political correctness that limits the flow of information deprives the public of its right to know, leaving it vulnerable and helpless in a soothing darkness.
Further, security agencies cannot always acquire information that the terrorists want to keep hidden; and suspicious events or people fail to be reported to the proper authorities. These impediments often force the security agencies to steer acrobatic detours around the law, and unorthodox ways to surveille and neutralize whatever seems a threat. With so many obstacles, in addition to the fear of public criticism, the security agencies often conclude that their lives are made easier if they just stick to protocol, shut their eyes and deny what is patently dangerous.
The Taliban's new offices in Qatar are an example of the need to temper justice with a certain measure of force and ingenuity. Unfortunately, every time a vengeful, sanctimonious individual such as Edward Snowden appears out of nowhere to assail the security agency he once swore to protect and expose the way it works, a tide of hypocrisy, anger and public protest rises not against him, but against how the agency works. A traitor such as Snowden poses as a hero but should be condemned. At the same time, the security system should be encouraged, and its authority enlarged even if it occasionally impinges on our privacy. The alternative could be worse.
Ali Salim is a scholar based in the Middle East.