Sunday, July 10, 2005

Learning to Live With It

While I'm on the topic of terrorism, I want to highlight this excellent column by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on what it will take to defeat terrorism. Here's a key quote:

America's political leaders continue to give their citizens the impression that victory means ensuring that there will be no other attack on American soil—as long as we go on the offense abroad, get perfect intelligence, buy fancy new technologies at home, screen visas and lock some people up. But all these tough tactics and all the intelligence in the world will not change the fact that in today's open societies, terrorism is easy to carry out. The British authorities, perhaps the world's best at combating terror, admit they had no warning about last week's attack. The American response to the London bombs has been a perfect example of U.S. grandstanding. We immediately raised the alert level, scaring Americans, with no specific information about terror attacks in America. Why? Because were something to happen here, politicians and bureaucrats want to be able to say, "Don't blame us, we told you."

Real victory is not about preventing all attacks everywhere. No one can guarantee that. It's really about preventing the worst kinds of attacks, and responding well to others. And on this score, America remains woefully unprepared.

This is absolutely correct. 'Terrorism' isn't an army or a nation that can be laid low through the proper application of guns, bombs, and security checkpoints. It's a method, and one that I fear won't lose its luster anytime soon. The administration has assiduously tried to tie freedom and peace together, but the mounting evidence is boring an ever-deepening hole into the idea that the two can truly coexist. When we finally decide to get realistic about what we should expect our government to do about terrorism, we'll remove the wind from the terrorists' sails ourselves.