Ignore Now, Pay Later
Excerpts from a speech on terrorism and Liberal confusion by the Secretary of State:
"We have learned that terrorism is, above all, a form of political violence. It is neither random nor without purpose...."
"...But the overarching goal of all terrorists is the same: they are trying to impose their will by force--a special kind of force designed to create an atmosphere of fear. The horrors they inflict are not simply a new manifestation of traditional social conflict; they are depraved opponents of civilization itself, aided by the technology of modern weaponry. The terrorists want people to feel helpless and defenseless; they want people to lose faith in their government's capacity to protect them and thereby to undermine the legitmacy of the government itself, or its policies, or both."
"The terrorists profit from the anarchy caused by their violence. They succeed when governments change their policies out of intimidation. But the terrorist can even be satisfied if a government responds to terror by clamping down on individual rights and freedoms. Governments that overreact, even in self-defense, may only undermine their own legitimacy, as they unwittingly serve the terrorists' goals. The terrorist succeeds if a government responds to violence with repressive, polarizing behavior that alienates the government from the people...."
"...We have pulled ourselves out of a state of barbarism and removed the affronts to human freedom and dignity that are inherent to that condition. We have sought to free ourselves from that primitive existence described by Hobbes where life is lived in "continual fear and danger of violent death . . . nasty, brutish, and short.' We have sought to create, instead, a world where universal respect for human rights and democratic values makes a better life possible. We in the democracies can attest to all that man is capable of achieving if he renounces violence and brute force, if he is free to think, write, vote, and worship as he pleases. Yet all of these hard-won gains are threatened by terrorism."
"Terrorism is a step backward; it is a step toward anarchy and decay. In the broadest sense, terrorism represents a return to barbarism in the modern age. If the modern world cannot face up to the challenge, then terrorism, and the lawlessness and inhumanity that come with it, will gradually undermine all that the modern world has achieved and make further progress impossible...."
"...And we have to recognize that the burden falls on us, the democracies--no one else will cure the disease for us...."
"...We cannot begin to address this monumental challenge to decent, civilized society until we clear our heads of the confusion about terrorism, in many ways the moral confusion, that still seems to plague us. Confusion can lead to paralysis, and it is a luxury that we simply cannot afford...."
"...We have all heard the insidious claim that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' When I spoke on the subject of terrorism this past June, I quoted the powerful rebuttal to this kind of moral relativism made by the late Senator Henry Jackson. His statement bears repeating today: "The idea that one person's "terrorist' is another's "freedom fighter,'' he said, "cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don't blow up p buses containing non-combatants; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don't set out to capture and slaughter school children; terrorist murderers do. Freedom fighters don't assassinate innocent businessmen, or hijack and hold hostage innocent men, women, and children; terrorist murderers do. It is a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word "freedom' to be associated with acts of terrorists.' So spoke Scoop Jackson...."
"...We were told that this bombing happened because of a vote we cast in the United Nations, or because of our policies in Lebanon, or because of the overall state of our relations with the Arab nations, or because of our support for Israel...."
"...We have to rid ourselves of this moral confusion which lays the blame for terrorist actions on us or on our policies. We are attacked not because of what we are doing wrong but because of what we are doing right. We are right to support the security of Israel, and there is no terrorist act or threat that will change that firm determination. We are attacked not because of some mistake we are making but because of who we are and what we believe in. We must not abandon our principles, or our role in the world, or our responsibilities as the champion of freedom and peace...."
"...But part of our problem here in the United States has been our seeming inability to understand terrorism clearly. Each successive terrorist incident has brought too much self-condemnation and dismay, accompanied by calls for a change in our policies or our principles or calls for withdrawal and retreat. We should be alarmed. We should be outraged. We should investigate and strive to improve. But widespread public anguish and self-condemnation only convince the terrorists that they are on the right track. It only encourages them to commit more acts of barbarism in the hope that American resolve will weaken."
"This is a particular danger in the period before our election. If our reaction to terrorist acts is to turn on ourselves instead of against the perpetrators, we give them redoubled incentive to do it again and to try to influence our political processes."
"We have to be stronger, steadier, determined, and united in the face of the terrorist threat. We must not reward the terrorists by changing our policies or questioning our own principles or wallowing in self-flagellation or self-doubt. Instead, we should understand that terrorism is aggression and, like all aggression, must be forcefully resisted...."
"...First, our intelligence capabilities, particularly our human intelligence, are being strengthened. Determination and capacity to act are of little value unless we can come close to answering the questions: who, where, and when. We have to do a better job of finding out who the terrorists are; where they are; and the nature, composition, and patterns of behavior of terrorist organizations. Our intelligence services are organizing themselves to do the job, and they must be given the mandate and the flexibility to develop techniques of detection and contribute to deterrence and response."
"Second, there is no question about our ability to use force where and when it is needed to counter terrorism. Our nation has forces prepared for action --from small teams able to operate virtually undetected, to the full weight of our conventional military might. But serious issues are involved--questions that need to be debated, understood, and agreed if we are to be able to utilize our forces wisely and effectively...."
"...What will be required, however, is public understanding before the fact of the risks involved in combating terrorism with overt power."
"The public must understand before the fact that there is potential for loss of life of some of our fighting men and the loss of life of some innocent people."
"The public must understand before the fact that some will seek to cast any preemptive or retaliatory action by us in the worst light and will attempt to make our military and our policymakers-- rather than the terrorists--appear to be the culprits."
"The public must understand before the fact that occasions will come when their government must act before each and every fact is known--and the decisions cannot be tied to the opinion polls...."
"...If we are going to respond or preempt effectively, our policies will have to have an element of unpredictability and surprise. And the prerequisite for such a policy must be a broad public consensus on the moral and strategic necessity of action. We will need the capability to act on a moment's notice. There will not be time for a renewed national debate after every terrorist attack. We may never have the kind of evidence that can stand up in an American court of law. But we cannot allow ourselves to become the Hamlet of nations, worrying endlessly over whether and how to respond. A great nation with global responsibilities cannot afford to be hamstrung by confusion and indecisiveness. Fighting terrorism will not be a clean or pleasant contest, but we have no choice but to play it...."
Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, 1984.