THIS IS A JOB FOR...

 

Copyright 2001, 2015 by Jim Hull

(Please cite the author if you quote from this work)

 

There's something amiss in our thinking about the terrorist crisis. It's not that we shouldn't do something about it -- they're trying to kill us, fer Pete's sake! -- but we may be going about it all wrong.

Consider: We're badly mauled by the New York and Washington bombings, so we get angry and launch an armada. We attack, say, Afghanistan, but by the time we get there, the terrorists have skedaddled and are laughing at us from a different hideout, perhaps one of the countless islands of Indonesia or lost among the Pakistanis. Meanwhile, pounding about in the hinterlands, we inflict civilian casualties that spawn resentment among millions of affronted Muslims worldwide, many of whom join the terrorists. What to do? We can't just stand here and take it, but if we overreact we'll suffer even more.

Then it hit me: this is a job for JAMES BOND!! We need 007 to the rescue!

Why not? In all those spy films, Bond chases after a megalomaniac bent on mass destruction. Today those outrageous fictions have become horrible fact. We have a real megalo who operates in such a way that armies and navies can't easily reach him. He demonstrates a dark genius for inventive destruction, just like a foe of 007. But this is also precisely the sort of person James Bond eats for breakfast.

The whole crisis hinges on the terrorists' sense of self-importance. They want to kill us all because, for one thing, American troops "defiled" their home soil -- how dare we! -- trying to save Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. I don't care how sane they are as strategists and tacticians (something the experts are quick to point out), and we can disagree all day about American foreign policy and its many foibles; but these guys' core values are nutto. Successful mass murderers are ALWAYS sane as tacticians, or they don't succeed with their killing sprees. But does this make them sane in their views of the world? When 007 encountered his opponent during an elegant dinner, the conversation would be charming and sophisticated. But it always became clear the bad guy was, at bottom, goofy.

The terrorists' true goal, I suspect, is to tempt us into war. They may WANT us to bomb Afghanistan and elsewhere, unwittingly fulfilling our role in a crackpot scheme to unite their fractious Islamic brethren in a holy war against western nations. In this scenario, the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings are a trap, and our warlike response might force us into the snare. But in each Bond film, our hero goes undercover to root out the evil; huge armies play little or no role; the mess is cleaned up quietly and thoroughly.

Okay, so James Bond is a fictional character. He's not even an American citizen! (He might as well be: ever since we learned that President Kennedy loved the Bond books, Americans have adopted him wholeheartedly.) Of course we need real people, not fantasies, to help us. But we DO have those people in the wings, ready to do the bidding of the CIA and other covert agencies. Those kinds of people -- often disdained as unsavory in time of peace -- may well be our next heroes.

Their work won't be as obvious or spectacular as armed assaults on enemy redoubts. But covert operations also won't anger tens of millions of Middle East citizens the way a huge, messy military campaign might. Besides, stealth is likely to be much more effective: the terrorists operate globally in a secret network, and who better to attack that network than secret agents? They are the moles who can burrow under an enemy organization's skin. They are the beaters who can flush them out. They are the hunters who can bring them to ground.

Despite the risks, we may feel compelled to launch military assaults against governments who sponsor terrorists. Such regimes, untouched, could help with further attacks against us in the future. But if we as a people chafe for a war -- any old war -- as a way of licking our wounds, our administration may be tempted to serve one up for us... "Just a teensy one, won't take long, we promise!" ...which could blow up in our faces. We need to be calm enough not to stir up the hornet's nest, and, instead, very carefully reach in and extract, as it were, the queen.

It may feel good -- like licking chapped lips -- to strike militarily out of impatience. But then we'll have a whole new crop of self-righteous, beweaponed maniacs making passage to America. That's why I say, one way or another, this is a job for James Bond.




 

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READERS RESPOND:

 

"There are Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity as Islam. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can constitute this entity and he'd be running it. He really believes Islam would beat the West. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west would probably overcome--whatever that would mean in such a war--but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?" from an article by Tamim Ansary, Afghan native living in the U.S. (sent by a reader)

 

What I'm hoping to do is to get people out of knee-jerk "bomb-the-hell-out-of-them" and "line-'em-up-and-shoot-em" mentality. There are some questions that I am waiting to hear. These are things like, "Why are those people willing to commit suicide for their cause?" "Why do they hate us?" and "Just what is their cause?" Bruce Rowe, president, Center Stage Software

 

I forwarded your article on to the White House. Kathleen Fors, career coach

 

 

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