The missing factor in the war on terror

Despite the fact that death is not a deterrent for Islamic radicals, there are certain deterrents that can bring them to their knees and end or significantly diminish their barbarism.

February 10, 2015 16:21
Islamic State Tank

Islamic State Tank. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The recent burning of the Jordanian pilot is further evidence that Western measures to counter radical Islam since 9/11 have failed spectacularly. The US and other free countries have spent trillions of dollars in the so-called “War on Terror” – a futile attempt thus far to end or at least contain Islamic terrorism. Our “strategy” (and I use the term very loosely indeed), which has relied predominantly on kinetic military confrontations, simply isn’t working. The Western response to the problem has neither prevented the Taliban from regaining significant power in Afghanistan nor has it prevented ISIS from conducting barbaric terror acts in different parts of the world. The beheading of the Japanese journalists, the recent killing of Charlie Hebdo journalists in downtown Paris, and too many other outrages are a continual reminder of our extraordinary ineffectiveness. 

History teaches us that wars ONLY end when one side of the combatant groups is forced to surrender. History also teaches us that to force surrender generally requires a powerful deterrent. For example, WWII continued for years before the Allies forced first the Nazis and then the emperor of Japan to capitulate. The deterrent in each case was the unambiguous threat that failure to submit would result inexorably in the utter erasure of the defeated nation from the face of the earth. Similarly, during the Cold War, the deterrent – known as the MAD Doctrine (Mutually Assured Destruction) – sufficed to prevent both the US and the Russians from using nuclear weapons. Both sides wanted to live.


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