Sadly, I predicted this, too – II

In response to Thomas wells‘ comment to the first posting on this subject:

Better screening by actually admitting that there are bad people who are trying to down airliners and that 99.44% of them are young males of Muslim persuasion would probably do wonders.  Can’t even say of middle eastern descent because the Shoe-bomber, Richard Reid, was European British.  But ultimately, any screening process will fail.

Hate to say it, but the crotch bomber succeeded.  The goal of the terrorists is not to kill the few but to terrorize the many.  Killing is a tool towards that end.  But attempted killings are just as good if they lead to the panicked response the Government has conjured up.

Screening, like almost every defensive tactic can only slow an attacker.  Ultimately and inevitably, as the attackers probe and prod and seek out vulnerabilities, or simply keep trying until they catch the scanner reader yawning while they walk through the gates, they will succeed in penetrating the defenses and trigger another kneejerk reaction.  It is an embodiment of the “Fortress Mentality”.  If one studies the usual response to almost any event, that response usually involves some form of cowering behind ever taller and thicker castle walls.

Yet if one studies the history of castles, one finds that they had a checkered history.  Castles were most successful against roving brigands.  Brigands lived off of pillaging.  Stymied by the castle wall, they would fairly quickly depart because they lacked the resources to set up an extended siege.  Compare that result to some of the largest castles in history: Masada and the city of Tyre.  Both fell to Rome because Rome could apply the one thing that no castle can defend against – persistence.  The Romans wore down Masada over three years.  Supplies were brought in from beyond the reach of the defenders allowing the siege army to apply all of its energy against the fortress where they build a ramp one rock at a time that scaled the mountain fortress’ wall.  Likewise, Tyre was defeated by the Roman Army building a causeway to the island city.  The city defenders had to watch while the Roman legionnaires picked up stones off the beach and dropped them in the water until a land bridge had been built to allow the besiegers access to the city.  Trojan Horses, gile and internal betrayal brought down many of the great fortress in history.  The common thread in every case being persistence.

The other point to remember about cowering in fortresses was the cost imposed by the defenders on themselves.  Starvation, pestilence and privation were the price of the illusion of safety behind the walls.

So we see it again today.  The reaction to the crotchbomber is to build higher and thicker walls.  We hurt ourselves and deprive ourselves of basic liberties to create the illusion of safety.  Yet no matter what they do, the walls will eventually be breached.  The purpose of terrorism is not to destroy the target society.  It is to get the target society to destroy itself.

Ultimately, the only defense against the terrorists is to go find them, root them out, and kill them where they fester.  Follow them anywhere and deny them sanctuary.  Separate them from their means of support.  Drive them into the wilderness, isolate them, surround them and kill them until they are no more or choose to recognize the error of their ways.

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