I just read the news on Reuters/Yahoo that the USA entered Somalia with an AC 130 plane and bombed the village of Hayo because there was “at least one Al Qaeda suspect”. The result? Reuters sources says: “I understand there are many dead bodies and animals in the village”.

Now while most of us strongly prefer a world without Al Qaeda, an organization that has killed a lot of innocent people, from a moral and tactical point of view I think that flying into a foreign country chasing “at least one Al Qaeda suspect”, bombing a village and killing many civilians, is wrong.

An air attack of this kind makes USA lose not only from a moral point of view, but also from a tactical point of view. Terrorism is an industry fueled by angry young men (occasionally young women as well) who are looking for a reason to fight. The USA tactics in the Middle East, in my view, just make it more likely for Al Qaeda, an organization which operates in a region where birth rates and unemployment rates are among the highest in the world, to recruit angry young men.

In Spain, where I live, we also have a lot of problems with terrorism. A few days ago ETA attacked in Barajas Airport. We also had a terrorist attack by an islamic terrorist organization on March 11th 2004 that left as many dead per capita as 9/11 did in the States. Still I can´t possibly imagine Spanish police demolishing the homes of relatives of suspected terrorists as Israel does or simply bombing suspected targets from the air as USA does. If the Spanish government did that it would turn thousands of Basque citizens and well adapted Muslim immigrants into ETA and Al Qaeda supporters.

I think it´s time that USA realize that Al Qaeda has many more sympathizers now than before 9/11 as a result of its flawed policies. Most of the world supported the USA led invasion of Afghanistan. That act in itself was rational and probably understood by most muslims as well. The Taliban government working jointly with Al Qaeda had attacked the USA and USA responded invading the country and replacing the government. But things started going wrong with the invasion of Iraq, a country that basically had no terrorism until the USA´s actions unfortunately produced it.

USA in Iraq managed to create the enemy it did not have before the invasion. This was achieved in part by the unreasonable use of force, including air bombings of cities like Fallujah. How can you explain to a rational person that air bombings on civilian populations are justifiable, but placing car bombs or human bombs is not? Same with Israel. Hezbollah now has many more supporters than before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, because that invasion included bombings among civilians, heavy civilian casualties and enormous destruction of Lebanese infrastructure.
As a result many Lebanese who were not Hezbollah sympathizers now are.

Democracies do not need to resort to an eye for an eye tactics to win against terrorism as those tend to backfire. The Somalia attack will now again increase the fear of Muslims that the US just wants to kill Muslims anywhere they are.

The best way to defeat terrorism in Israel or USA is great police work (as USA and Israel have been doing internally), superb intelligence (as Israel has had for decades), a fair and well functioning judicial system, in short all possible strategies short of bombing civilian populations and violating human rights. Imagine bombing Scarsdale because there´s at least one Al Qaeda operative believed to be there and killing “many civilians and animals”. How would you feel if they bombed you because you happened to have a terrorist in your town? Well that´s what USA is doing in Somalia. More comments in Spanish on this post are here.

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euronerd on January 9, 2007  · 

Martin,
I fully agree !!
It almost looks like the USA wants to proof they are the worst terrorists around. That doesn’t help to end terrorism, on the contrary.
What worries me, is that I don’t believe the American government consists of stupid people. So I can only conclude the ulterior motives are not visible yet.
Who profits from this?

Leo Piccioli on January 9, 2007  · 

Facts:
* What you are stating is obvious, and the USA government must probably know it
* They continue with their “preventive attacks”

My conclusion is that there is something else, something that makes these attacks make sense (for them!). There is obviously a moral problem around, but they seem to overcome it pretty easily.

My guess is that the attacks are functional to the current government (i.e. to maintain the “status quo”), and those that support it (i.e. some business people, maybe related to the military complex, or to the rebuilding of devastated countries held by the US)

Ariel on January 9, 2007  · 

Then, you should ask your pal Clinton why he bombed a pharma factory in Sudan back in 1997. I dare you to do so next time you see him.

The best way to end terrorism is to kill the terrorists. Soft approaches (demonstrations, useless political pacts, etc) have failed in Spain. After 40 years ETA can bomb any target in Spain at will. Hardly a success.

Alejandro on January 9, 2007  · 

Ariel, you should read Von Clausewitz. A war isn’t won by obliterating the opposition. Rather, the war is won when the other faction has no will to fight. If we understand this basic principle, it shouldn’t be hard to infer that the USA’s actions are effectively strengthening terrorist organizations.

However, I agree with Leo. The post says nothing I didn’t know before.

Mark on January 9, 2007  · 

Ariel,

That’s why European governments secretly approve of the US methodology even though the publicly criticize the US — all of the European governments were fully aware of the CIA’s secret flights. It’s a perfect strategy. They win votes by saying that Bush is horrible, and think of all the money they have saved by not investing in their protection. Furthermore, they don’t anger the bad guys.

Unforunately, neither approach really does much harm to the terrorists in the long run. The US and Europe need to show a unified front, but in Europe there doesn’t seem to be much an incentive to help out — hence the US’ unileralism.

M Juan on January 9, 2007  · 

IMHO US governement (supported by a majority of US people) is showing a quite big indiference for the rights of other people because they really have no knowledge, interest or curiosity about them. Indiference leads to lack of respect.

Terrorism must be fought against but not by any menas.

Ariel#3, ETA can bomb any target in Spain, like any other terrorist group in any other country (as has sadly been proved), but the number of actions and victims has been significantly reduced in the last years. Soft approaches may convince some people and are needed to channel people feelings.

Gustavo on January 9, 2007  · 

Two points:
1.- Ariel, there are more terrorists than in 9/11.
2.- If you hear daily on pre-emptive strikes in foreign countries, finally you will take it like normal.

Martin Vives on January 9, 2007  · 

In today’s world, United States is the most powerful country, and they make good use of it. They keep proving they are. I dont blame them, because I consider it part of human nature. But of course this attitude makes people angry, and its always easier to focus on the one on top of the stage as well.

Americans should start considering wars, as they were fought in their own territory, in order to understand the consequences of devastation and lose of human lifes. And, when indeed, war is fought in their country (S11), besides defending their legitimate right to protect themselves, give example not creating new conflicts where there weren’t.

I know its hard, not only for americans but for human beens, to hold the power and decide not to use it always only in your own benefit. But I guess we all still need to learn a lot, to properly diferenciate ourselves from animals.

Leonardo on January 10, 2007  · 

Martín,
I don’t know if I can post liks here, but I suggest you to look at Google for a persuasive game called “September 12″. It explains in a very abstract way the same concept you expose in this post.

gunjam on January 10, 2007  · 

This war. Al-Qa’eda has declared war on the US (and they also threatened to invade Ethiopia) and we simply took them at their word. What is there not to get about it? Further, can you not distinguish between TARGETING terrorists (and sometimes killing some civilians in the process — as has happened in MOST wars) and deliberately TARGETING civilians? Please, if you are unable to make such rather elementary distinctions, you are advised to stck to your entrepreneurial posts, which make a lot more sense.

Hasan on January 10, 2007  · 

Jared Diamond wrote in Collapse (summarising as I don’t have the book in front of me) that a world power, once it has exhausted resources and destroyed its environment beyond repair, becomes militaristic and then fails.

Someone on January 10, 2007  · 

Millions of people die because of deseases and hunger, and you care about those islamic terrorists?
Yes, we all have human ethics, but this world is as is, there are wars and people die, good and innocent people die, but terrorists must be destroyed and smashed.

Be sure that if Iran goes ahead with their nuclear project, no country will do anything, besides Israel, of course.
Israel will finally attack Iran, with maybe some casualties, and the world will blame them Israel, as usual, …. for saving the world.

If you don’t want this to happen, do something !!! Speak against Iran please.

I dislike Bush and Bush’s politics too, but if you criticize the USA and Israel all the time, you get along with terrorism.
Think again Martin.

Martin Varsavsky on January 10, 2007  · 

Someone,

I already spoke many times against Iran. I share your view that Ahmadinejad is a tremendous threat. But again I don´t see why it is OK to have a nuclear Pakistan whose population according to the Pew Institute Poll would elect Osama Bin Laden as president if they could vote and not Iran.

Martin Varsavsky on January 10, 2007  · 

Gunjam,

You seem to believe that if you are a neighbor of a terrorist and you die so be it, you were in the wrong neighborhood. I don´t. But the second issue that you don´t address is how poorly the USA and Israel are doing in the sense that terrorists organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are more popular than ever among Muslims and are finding easier and easier to recruit members. Terrorism is based on probability of causing harm, more operatives means higher probability. Even if we don´t share the ethics of my comment I wonder if you truly believe that torture, ilegitimate detentions, air bombings have actually made Israel, Europe and USA safer.

Martin Varsavsky on January 10, 2007  · 

Ariel,

I am pretty sure that USA and Israel´s antiterrorism policies push Muslim moderates in the hands of extremists and result in groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah who when Bush got to power were much less powerful than today.

Someone on January 10, 2007  · 

They do not vote, and Pakistan is not a threat now ….. they do not want to wipe Israel out.

Martin, your policy with terrorism is to negotiate or let it be ….. and they get stronger anyway.
That is what happened since Israel left Lebanon in 2000 …. they got stronger, just waiting for the right moment to strike.
You acuse the USA and Israel for the grow of terrorism …????!!!?!!?!

The terrorism issue is pretty new in the world, and I think that there is no effective weapon against it yet.

Jacques Mattheij on January 13, 2007  · 

The ‘war on terror’ is a figment of someones overpowerful imagination. There is no such thing.

There are individuals that have broken the law. Some of them are now dead, some are at large (but it seems we’re not trying very hard to find them). This is a police issue, not an army issue, but it’s hard to give out billions of dollars of ‘pie’ on a police action, much easier when it’s the army. Hence the war on terror and the war on drugs and so on.

If 1/2 the money spent on the so called war on terror would be spent on helping the developing world the war on terror would be over and 1/2 the money would be saved. I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon though.

Some people just like guns and money…

excellent blog, I was pointed here by ‘bob s.’

I expected just technology, but am happy to find these other thoughts as well.

best regards,

Jacques Mattheij

killy-the-frog on January 17, 2007  · 

Should Spain go bomb the white house to limit the spread of terrorism ?
;-)

by the way, previous Spanish government start with the USA the war in Iraq against the will of the population.

craig on January 23, 2007  · 

I think the US is currently suffering the most hypocrytical leadership that has ever been elected.

They denounce terrorism, while themselves being implicated in it:

Prior to the Iran/Hesbollah ‘incident’ there was a terror campaign in Iran involving street bombing that killed many including several Iran cabinet members, Iran initially pointed the finger at the British SAS, but later indicated they had evidence to show it was US special forces. The US later indicated that it had been running ‘preliminary operations’ in Iran, what a euphemism for what they denounce as unacceptable terrorism when someone else does it. – funnily enough this wasn’t explored to any depth by the western press (and I’m sure wasn’t even mentioned on Fox).

Sane goes with Iraq. Saddam Hussein got stubborn and lay down the gauntlet re: weapons inspections because the US had been pestering away with continual air strikes long before any UN resolutions had even been sought. If the US hadn’t been manipulating him like this the weapons inspections would have probably continued without incident and proven there were no WMD without the need to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and American people.

I have trouble understanding why people don’t understand suicide bombers. When you have young men in these countries who have lost everything to the US: What have they got to lose?

I’m so glad I don’t live in the US right now, and I’m not that happy about being in the UK. I only hope people will come round to realising that a leader who gets themselves elected by playing on peoples fears is a bully and very dangerous to have at the helm.

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