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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
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Allies, Adversaries and the Right to Self-Defense

Is anyone looking at who, exactly, is criticizing the Western world's actions that defend it against terrorism? Do they really believe that terrorism can be successfully fought without violence?
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The tragedy appears to be that the intellectuals of the West seem only willing to raise their voices against the “undemocratic” security measures taken by the United States against terrorism.

Ironically, Sunni Arab states are now expecting their greatest regional enemy, Israel, said to be a nuclear power, to protect them from an Iranian attack; and Britain, breaking rank, has already announced that it is easing its own sanctions on the Rhum North Sea gas field, co-owned by British Petroleum and the Iranian Oil Company, and closed by the British government in 2010, thus breaking the ring of sanctions around Iran.

As no Arab country, however, will agree for long to be protected by the Zionist nuclear umbrella — and certainly not to be exposed to the mercies of an Iranian leadership with which it has been warring for centuries — many fear the situation seems headed toward a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has not only declined membership in the UN Security Council, but the Gulf States and Egypt have been looking for allies who can be trusted. So far, it seems, Egypt has found only Russia, which loyally defends Syria and Bashar Assad’s interests as America continues its negotiations with Iran, which is suspected of simply using them to buy time to complete its nuclear program.

Even the Palestinian Authority and Hamas understand which way the wind is blowing and have begun approaching Iran, hat in hand, while they have apparently hinted to Assad and his Iranian sponsor that they might have been hasty in betraying him for Syria’s Islamist opposition. It turns out, however, that the rulers of Tehran are men of long memories, and recently notified Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal that his visit will be postponed.

Critics of those who defend the free world against its adversaries accuse the U.S. government and its security agencies of routinely wiretapping public figures and entire governments, including friendly governments such as Germany; and of conducting drone-executed targeted killings as an accepted form of warfare.

But who, exactly, are the people criticizing the Western world’s actions against terrorism? Are they supporters of Islamic terrorism or rivals of the West who want to keep the democratic peoples from defending themselves? Are they simply folk who repeat slogans without understanding the genuine threats now being posed — whether a nuclear Middle East, starting with Iran, or Russia’s increasing influence in the region? Do they really believe that terrorism can be fought without violence, cleverness and trickery as great as, or greater than, what is used by the terrorists themselves?

Criticism, even if justified, can sabotage a just battle and people’s right to self defense. Criticism of wiretapping, using drones to target terrorist operatives, and detaining and questioning terrorists are constantly repeated. Also repeated are criticism of sanctions against Iran — a country with rulers actively working towards producing a nuclear bomb which they may have every intention of using. Every measure is labelled by critics of self-defense as “collective, disproportionate punishment.”

Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which criticize wars without questioning what freedoms they could lose without them, would like the U.S. overcome terrorism without using its relative advantages — exactly those advantages that are always critical in determining the outcome of any war.

The alternative they propose, and a scenario of abject failure, is to send American infantrymen, carrying 70 pounds of equipment on their backs, to trudge through the snows of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There, they would fight the Taliban face to face on its home ground, in hostile territory where the adversary enjoys the advantages of guerrilla warfare, ease of movement, and the support (both willing and unwilling) of the local population.

As horrific as it is to kill innocent civilians who might happen to be in the path of targeted drones, is it not better for America to destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by using satellite cameras and drones, without losing American lives?

In the war on terrorism the West cannot afford to flip-flop or apologize. Terrorism needs to be struck hard and all the relative advantages need to be used — wiretapping, drones, targeted killings and sanctions — against both terrorist groups and countries that sponsor terrorism, such as Iran.

About the Author: Ali Salim is an expert on Islam; he resides in the Middle East.


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