Mumbai Attacks No Acts of “Desperation”

First, on this Thanksgiving Day, my thoughts and prayers are with Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka Holzberg and their son, who were held hostage by Islamist terrorists in this morning’s attacks in Mumbai, India, as well as with other hostages and those whom the terrorists have injured or killed. According to some news reports, a raid by Indian special forces may have freed the hostages being held in Mumbai’s Chabad facility. Let us pray these reports are accurate.

As a commentator, I am torn as to whether to write about the atrocities in Mumbai, where FOX News puts the death toll at 127, because I know that terrorists stage acts of brutality precisely to get media coverage. As 24-hour news channels repeatedly publicize their evil acts, one could argue terrorism is being publicized and, in a way, granted greater potency.

But I believe commentators do have a responsibility to point out some of the deeper truths behind the headlines, and that if we, as critical consumers of media, better understand the dynamic, we can better defeat terrorism and avoid being manipulated.

Consider: if terrorists staged attacks of sensational brutality and no news outlets covered them, how long would they continue to employ terrorism as a strategy?

Yasser Arafat, the architect of modern terrorism (and, in a stunning illustration of the world’s potential for moral blindness, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize), set this dynamic in motion with the orchestrated murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

On that day, misguided souls around the world, terrorized by proxy, engaged in a kind of Stockholm Syndrome-esque circular reasoning that went: “For the Palestinians to engage in such vicious behavior, they must be suffering terribly. Lest we become their next victims, let us side with them and, no matter what brutality they inflict, chalk it up to their suffering, and blame Israel.”

Palestinian and other Arab/Muslim suffering (and it does exist), notwithstanding, it has never been the real cause of terrorism. For one thing, terrorism has rarely been a spontaneous act of wild desperation of the sort a psychotic person, or someone in extreme, unendurable pain, might exhibit. Modern terrorism is a calculated, carefully orchestrated phenomenon, planned meticulously over time by corrupt leaders (the Arafats, the bin Ladens, the Ahmadinejads and their ilk) who make sure they are nowhere near the crime scenes, lest they dirty their suits or turbans.

They may make use of the desperation of their recruits (although I am inclined to think it is not so much desperation as simple brainwashing-induced fanaticism and hatred that drives the footsoldiers), but the larger dynamic is one of bullying, and using terror to exercise power.

Americans saw the fruit of this type of calculated evil on September 11th. Terrorist strategy has also been employed by enemies of the free world throughout the Iraq War. One tactic has been to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along roadsides to not only kill but often horrifically dismember U.S. and Coalition troops. This cowardly strategy, funded in large measure (according to my sources in Iraq), by Iran, was designed to scare the U.S. out of Iraq before the nascent democracy could stabilize, allowing terrorist and extremist forces to have their way with Iraq and, eventually, the entire region. As in the case of the Munich massacre and September 11th, the strategy appears to have been designed not only to injure and kill, but to terrorize by proxy.

Knowing our hearts, those who conceived this strategy calculated that the sight of enough horribly mutilated U.S. service members would send the U.S. running from Iraq so the terrorists could have their way with it. Again, it is important to understand the role of the media–however unwitting–in helping the terrorists, and the role of the terrorists’ apologists in the West in nearly handing them victory. They did not count on American will and tenacity, or the solid moral instincts and common sense of the American people.

Again, terrorism is a strategy employed in order to secure power for the “leaders” who employ it, and to use the media as a tool for sending the message. As citizens of the free world and consumers of media it is vital we understand this.

The dynamic also relies on irrational guilt. Terror-sponsoring states and terror movements understand enough about the Western psyche to know that some among us are so desirous of peace we will internalize undeserved guilt sooner than fight a war.

Neither the United States nor Israel is morally perfect. Yes, actions of both countries have caused suffering to innocent people (in modern times, unintentionally). But that is not the reason for terrorism. It is simply an element of truth that terrorists use in order to create moral confusion and justify their own off-the-charts, premeditated, utter evil (which is far, far worse than anything less-than-perfect the U.S. or Israel is or has engaged in by way of defending the free world today).

In order to prevail in any conflict it is vital to reasonably assess and understand one’s enemy. These enemies–terrorists and their backers–are strategic, intelligent, evil, and also cowardly. They do not fight from a truly moral position, which is why they hide, and why they require the drugs of fanaticism and brainwashing to perpetrate their “work.”

The only way they can prevail is by causing us to doubt ourselves. Just as the September 11th hijackers used our technology against us, so terror-sponsors attempt to use another great strength, our moral conscience, against us. The only way they can prevail is by using terror to convince us in the West we are somehow to blame for their evil actions. You see this kind of manipulation in many ways, and it has become so entrenched as to become second nature. If only, the “reasoning” goes, Israel would withdraw from the West Bank, Palestinians would not engage in terrorism. If only, bin Laden maintained, the U.S. would withdraw from Saudi Arabia and abandon Israel, he would not kill U.S. civilians. It is seductive to consider this, and it is not wrong to merely consider. But we must not lose sight of basic logic, as well as the moral truth we know in our bones. If Israelis’ residency on a particular piece of land, for instance, were really the cause of Palestinian terrorism, why would Hamas have greeted Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza by using that very land to launch a months-long, unrelenting stream of rocket attacks against civilians in the Israeli town of Sderot?

Again, neither the United States nor Israel is morally perfect. And it is right to retain our sensitivity to the suffering of all innocent people whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or anything else. But we do not serve or help innocent people by falling prey to the kind of moral confusion that legitimizes terrorism.

Terrorists like those who perpetrated today’s coordinated attacks around the city of Mumbai are no more friends to innocent Muslims than they are to innocent Americans and Israelis, Christians and Jews. Let us resolve to never be the useful idiots of these or any other terrorists – and we will prevail.

This entry was written by and posted on November 27, 2008 at 4:18 pm and filed under Blog.