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It’s Time to Review

Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Scotland Yard’s magnificent “catch” on the planned bombing of six trans-Atlantic flights, reminds us that the West is NOT fighting a “war on terror.” Terror is a tactic in the war radical Islamic fundamentalists are waging against democratic societies, and our war is against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them.


Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Scotland Yard’s magnificent “catch” on the planned bombing of six trans-Atlantic flights, reminds us that the West is NOT fighting a “war on terror.” Terror is a tactic in the war radical Islamic fundamentalists are waging against democratic societies, and our war is against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them.

Israel’s battle proves that terrorists need the attributes provided by states in order to maximize the damage they can pose. Hezbollah has thousands of long and medium range missiles, which they are shooting at Israel from Lebanese soil. Hezbollah has (actually had) more than 100 facilities/offices/bases/depots in Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah has bunkers under Lebanese towns and villages and puts its rocket launchers right in the middle of Lebanese civilians who provide (mostly-unwilling) cover against Israeli retaliation. Hezbollah has arms, training and money provided by governments of Syria and Iran. Hezbollah has political support from those three countries and others in the Arab world as well as seats in the Lebanese Parliament.

What would Hezbollah be without the territory, arms, money, training and political support? What would it be if it had no Lebanese civilians among which to hide? It would still be Hezbollah and would still hate Israel and America, but its ability to inflict damage would be much less. So Israel fights NOT to kill each terrorist (although knocking off leadership is important), but to dislodge the organization from its territorial base and remove the props. One state, Lebanon, has felt the effect. Syria and Iran may have to feel it as well before Hezbollah is defanged.

Those two countries are responsible for much of the support of terrorism in Iraq as well – aimed now mainly at Iraqi civilians. While the U.S. and the Iraqi army do their best to provide space for the elected government, Iran sponsors Shi’ite irredentism and Syria is a haven for terrorists of a variety of stripes. Both countries make territory, arms and passage into Iraq available.

Why? Because they believe they will not be held accountable. The goal of the West, then, must be to ensure that governments that encourage and support terrorism are not able to disassociate themselves from their responsibility.

Britain has a different sort of problem. While the British government certainly does not actively support terrorism, terrorists take advantage of the attributes of democratic countries to plan and train. Britain and other democratic societies have to balance freedom with the need to root out evil.

So we end with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, howling mad that the U.S. stopped at Prestwick Airport on a flight to supply Israel with bunker-buster bombs. Would she prefer that Israel leave Hezbollah in the bunkers in Lebanese territory? If so, she fails to understand that Israel and Britain – and the rest of us – face the same threat, organized and instigated by states that harbor and support terrorists. We ought to face it together.