Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The War on Terror: Predictability and "Useful Idiots"

This weekend, I took Weekly Jackass Simon Jenkins to task for referring to those of us who prefer to stop the terrorists before they kill as 'useful idiots'. Anthony Browne, Europe Correspondent for the London Times, puts that appellation back where it belongs: on "left-wing activists, The Guardian and sections of the BBC." In other words, on those who, like Professor Juan Cole, insist that we cannot fight this war proactively. Cole insists there is no way to predict who the terrorists are, or when and how they might strike, as they are too decentralized.

Not so, says Christopher Brown at FrontPage Magazine:
The good news is that preventing terrorist attacks is not as impossible as conventional wisdom would have it. Al-Qaeda, after all, is anything but subtle. Al-Zawahiri has clearly indicated al-Qaeda's desired targets. Note that his second video was at once an order and a warning that the attack was going to occur within a month. Finally, the Internet posting a week before the London attacks gave us a clue that the target was Europe and the attack would come shortly. Put all of this together with al-Qaeda's previously scouted targets, its propensity for going back to targets that they failed to destroy before, its limited yet strategically successful attack in Madrid, and a globe of potential targets is reduced to a few neighborhoods in London, Paris, or Rome. (It is very likely that a similar set of indicators will emerge in relation to the Egyptian attack.)
Oversimplified? Perhaps...but preferrable by a wide margin to the plan of those like Cole who would engage in sociological apologetics aimed at explaining the motives of murderers after they kill, or changing American foreign policy to suit the agenda of Islamic extremists (after all, if we just left Israel to be destroyed and gave up all of our strategic interests in the Middle East, they wouldn't hate much).

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