Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About

Well, in Lebanon it looks like the terrorist Hezbollah is about to either overthrow the Lebanese government, or make them utterly impotent in challenging Hezbollah’s plans to attack and, eventually, destroy Israel and institute an Islamist state in its place. In other words, they want to become either a terrorist state or a terrorist state-within-a-state, depending on whether they choose to emulate Hamas in the Gaza Strip or Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

This, most reasonable people agree, would be A Bad Thing.

So, what are those who are most often turned to in such times doing?

Well, the United Nations already has a resolution on the books — Security Council Resolution 1701, passed unanimously on August 11, 2006. Among the key points of the Resolution:

  • Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon in parallel with Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout the South
  • Hezbollah to be disarmed
  • Full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon
  • No paramilitary forces, including (and implying) Hezbollah, will be south of the Litani River

Well, Israel withdrew, but as far as the rest goes, mainly the ones concerning Hezbollah, have been utterly and completely flouted. As a consequence of this, absolutely nothing has been done. Indeed, Hezbollah is now more powerful than ever, more heavily armed, and more assertive as it openly wages war against the Lebanese government. And since they enjoy the support of Syria and Iran, they seem to be winning.

So, what’s the opinion of the left, as represented by the Boston Globe? Reward Hezbollah with a power-sharing agreement.

This is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s proposed foreign policy, where he’s willing to talk to anyone without any preconditions, indicating that he’s open to compromise on pretty much any matter and “all carrot, no stick.” This flies in the face of American history, especially those of the two presidents he cited as “willing to talk to our enemies,” Roosevelt and Truman. Those two presidents didn’t negotiate with our enemies in World War II, they demanded unconditional surrender — and got it.

I have my own idea on how to speak with terrorists:

“Great Leader, the American emissary is here to see you.”

“Show him in.”

(American emissary enters.) “Greetings, Mr. Nasrallah. My name is Joseph Tormolen, and I am here to represent the American government. First of all, we would like to extend our condolences on the unfortunate passing of your colleagues Abdul, Hajji, and Amar.”

“I don’t understand. Abdul and Hajji were killed a few days ago, but I just spoke to Amar a few minutes ago.”

(Checks his watch) “My apologies. I lost track of time.” (waits a few seconds, the ground trembles from a nearby explosion, then another.) “As I said a moment ago, we offer our condolences on the unfortunate passing of your colleagues Abdul, Hajji, Amar, and Adnan. Now, we would like to discuss your organization’s disarmament and ceding of control of the portions of Lebanon you currently hold to the lawful government of that nation.”

THAT is how you negotiate with terrorists. You don’t attempt to raise them up to our level of civil discourse. You don’t appeal to their higher natures. You don’t offer them compromises based on granting some of what they demand, and granting them absolution for what gains they have made by violence and terror. You answer their violence with violence.

But you don’t go for a simple tit-for-tat. Nation states and professional militaries have far more options than terrorists do. We can do far more effective and selective targeting than they can, and can sustain our efforts far longer than they can. We only have two limitations: our own moral standards and our sense of resolve.

Our moral limitations mean that we will have to act as best we can to protect the innocents from suffering from our attacks. But that does not mean that all civilian deaths are to be avoided; that would simply guarantee that they would be used as hostages, and would guarantee our defeat. What we need to do is exactly what Israel does: develop weapons that minimize their area of effect, to minimize the collateral damage, but at the same time pronounce that any terrorists who use civilians as human shields (willing or not) will be held liable for any and all harm that befalls them. The Geneva Convention is quite clear on this principle: all combatants have a moral and legal responsibility to separate themselves from civilians, and should any civilians come to harm in their presence, they — not their attackers — are to be held responsible.

The other element that we need to take into account is our resolve. Right now, that is very much a questionable resource. We need to declare — and back up — our intent of destroying terrorist groups, and then follow through with it.

Or, if you prefer, you can take the Boston Globe’s preferred approach. You can pretend that the UN never passed Resolution 1701 (or you can do like I do, and simply stop pretending that the UN serves any useful purpose in this world and does far, far more harm than good — but that requires too much honesty) and encourage the Lebanese government to come to terms with Hezbollah, grant the terrorists an even greater portion of power and legitimacy, and let the destruction of Lebanon continue and the creation of yet another Afghanistan proceed.

After all, letting the Islamist terrorists have their own nation didn’t cause too many problems for the rest of the world, did it?

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