Terrorizing Terrorists


by Ralph Peters [author, novelist]

As the administration fiddles and fumbles with its soft- on-terror policies at home, one Obama-blessed campaign abroad is hitting al Qaeda and its franchises hard: the drone war.

Drones work. They kill terrorists. Important terrorists. And we don’t have to squabble about where to put their shredded bodies on trial.

For all the billions poured into Afghan pockets, the continuing giveaways to well-connected contractors, the abuse of our military as glorified aid workers and terrorist targets, and the general strategic incoherence in Washington, we’re getting this one thing right.

On Tuesday, an up-the-ante wave of attacks fired 18 missiles from Unmanned Aerial Systems. (UAS is our term of the week for drones.) The strike hit a terrorist stronghold, killing another dozen or more militants.

It’s an expensive way to kill raggedy-butt bad guys — but a great deal cheaper than farcical terrorist trials or the occupation of countries that haven’t reached the outhouse level of technology.

Best of all, our increased use of drone attacks terrorizes the terrorists: They can’t know if any hiding place, anywhere, is safe.

As every air traveler knows, security requirements slow things down. The uncertainty posed by UAS vigilance impedes terrorist actions — and raises suspicions of informers in their ranks. (Few things are more heartwarming than Islamists executing each other.)

To his credit, Obama authorized a much wider employment of these weapons than did the Bush administration. Partly, this is due to improved intelligence capabilities and, in part, to improved UAS availability and technology. But, in the end, the president personally green-lighted intensified attacks.

Let’s give the guy credit when he gets one right.

For now, drone campaigns are our best tool for tracking and attacking those who intend to do us harm from remote sanctuaries. They let us reach across borders and exploit gray areas in international law — while giving governments, such as those of Pakistan or Yemen, plausible deniability. (We didn’t know, we don’t approve . . . but, uh, we’re glad those guys are dead.)

Our UAS attacks are also valuable because they directly hit our enemy’s capabilities — instead of trying to deter fanatics by being nice to farmers. In the end, the only way to handle violent Islamist zealots is to kill them.

We need to gut their actual capabilities. For them, it’s a struggle to break our national will. That’s just one more asymmetrical aspect of our war with 21st-century jihad.

Over the last week, local reports from Pakistan’s wild northwest claimed that a drone strike last month so badly injured Hakimullah “Wacky Haki” Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban’s latest leader (perhaps the Taliban top-cat closest to al Qaeda), that he later died.

Another drone strike took out his predecessor last year: The Pakistani Taliban is losing CEOs faster than Detroit. Over the past few years, we’ve nailed two-thirds of the terrorists on our to-do list in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area. That’s great news.

This hurts terrorist morale (although it won’t stop the true zealots), disrupts planning and eliminates talent. Killing senior terrorists makes America and the world a safer place.

Yeah, we may (theorectically) lose some intelligence by not waiting years for an uncertain opportunity to capture these terrorist kingpins . . . but there’s no Gitmo issue or any warm bodies for Attorney General Eric Holder to hug.

And no dead terrorist has ever blown up an airplane.

The Obama administration’s schizophrenic about terror. Willing to let the CIA or our special operators do what’s necessary abroad, it adamantly pursues its softer-than-Charmin approach to terrorist captives here at home. Whether this is political calculation or sheer incompetence remains an open question.

Meanwhile, though, terrorist leaders have to regulate their movements and actions under the constant threat of sudden death from the sky. That, not a legal circus (in Manhattan or elsewhere), is our best response yet to the tragedy of 9/11. ExileStreet

NY Post / copyright 2010 NY Post

Ralph Peters new novel, “The War After Armageddon,” is on the street. He is Fox News’ strategic analyst. His most recent book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”

Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.

One Response to “Terrorizing Terrorists”

  1. Brian Says:

    I have not seen the argument for Predator drone strikes in Pakistan better made than in your piece. For once it seems we are able to fight fire with fire and combat terrorists without having one hand tied behind our backs.

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