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Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2000/ 23 Elul, 5760

Bruce Herschensohn

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Consumer Reports

Don't look for the terrorists

In terms of size and scope, today's terrorist strikes in New York City and Washington are unprecedented in our nation's history. President Bush vowed that the United States "will hunt down and pursue those responsible for these cowardly actions." We certainly hope so, and we have every confidence that the Commander in Chief will defend American liberty at home and abroad. But this not the first time American lives have been lost at the hands of masked fanatics. Five years ago, agents of Osama Bin Ladin's terrorist organization attacked a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans and injuring 60 others. Shortly after that, Claremont Insitute Distinguished Fellow Bruce Herschensohn wrote a commentary urging then-President Clinton to declare war on "the Nation of Terrorism." Although today's events are quite different in magnitude, the principle is the same. We reprint Herschensohn's original article here. -- President Clinton said that he will dispatch FBI agents to Saudi Arabia to help in the investigation into who committed the terrorist act, and he said he would "make sure that those responsible for this hideous act are brought to justice." That was seven months ago, last November 13, when a terrorist attack killed five Americans and injured 60 others in Saudi Arabia.

On June 25, 1996, after it was reported that another bomb blast killed 19 Americans and injured 105 more in Saudi Arabia, President Clinton said that he will dispatch FBI agents to Saudi Arabia to help in the investigation to find out who committed the terrorist act and he said "those who did it must be brought to justice."

Forget it.

The Saudis captured and beheaded four terrorists who might have been involved in last November's attack, but it resulted in little if any deterrence. If we are serious about stopping terrorism against Americans we must fight terrorism as we fight a war. When a hand-grenade lands in a foxhole in a battle, there is no attempt to find who threw it because it's irrelevant. The enemy must be attacked as a whole.

When President Franklin Roosevelt requested a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan, he did not say, "Yesterday we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, and we are going to do everything possible to find out who those individual pilots, navigators, and bombardiers were, and bring them to justice." That would have been a guarantee that we would have lost the war. Those individuals were nothing more than tools of a larger enemy.

The larger enemy today is the Nation of Terrorism. It is irrelevant if an individual group responsible for a particular attack is called "The Movement for Islamic Change" or "The Tigers of the Gulf" or some other name. Upon which terrorist group should we retaliate? Any of them.

President Clinton should call a Joint Session of the Congress to request a declaration of war against terrorism, and "that from this day forward, the United States of America will regard terrorism as a sovereign state-as a nation in itself. The Nation of Terrorism is a chain of bases, training camps, safe houses, and other facilities that dot portions of the map of the world, going into and out of other sovereign states. The non-contiguous configuration that the Nation of Terrorism has enjoyed has been a shield, since its citizens-by-choice have assumed that they would always be regarded as part of other sovereign states that surrounded them. That shield must be a thing of the past."

"I am not," the president should announce, "requesting a declaration of war against Iran or Iraq or Libya or Syria or Cuba or North Korea or Sudan, but against the bases of terrorism within those countries and other countries, as long as those governments permit such bases to exist within their borders.

"As Commander in Chief, I will see to it that if any American is terrorized-indeed, if one hair on the head of an American is touched in hostility-there will be an immediate retaliation by the Government of the United States of America. Our military will be directed to strike at an unannounced terrorist target we think appropriate within the archipelago of 'islands' that have been built and inhabited within the existing borders of other sovereign states.

"This will be a clear edict that we are no longer searching for individual terrorists alone when we can find them, but instead, we are at war against Terrorism and we have found it. We must recognize that the Nation of Terrorism has already declared war against the United States and our nation will not allow that to continue.

"If terrorists feel that our retaliatory policy puts them at risk of being targeted for individual acts of terrorism that they did not commit, there is only one option for their future safety: get out of the terrorism business.

"My fellow Americans, our policy of searching is done. A new policy of swift and sure and severe retaliation against the Nation of Terrorism will be in immediate effect after you in the Congress make such a formal declaration. Let that declaration be a warning, the only warning to be given, that the citizens of the United States are to be secure against violence on their person wherever they travel throughout the world."

JWR contributor Bruce Herschensohn is a Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Comment by clicking here.


© 2000, Bruce Herschensohn