The Current Crisis

Brute Control

Russians know a thing or two about terrorist preemption.

By 9.23.04

WASHINGTON -- In observing the violence in Iraq it is helpful to have a grasp of history. There is a reason for the increased random violence. Our enemies -- free Iraq's enemies -- want to influence the American elections. Thus they make it appear that things are going more badly than they are. There is nothing new about this. History abounds with examples of a democracy's enemies trying to influence an election. It happened just months ago in Spain.

History also abounds with lessons on how to deal with brutes whether the brutes are trying to influence an election or some other political outcome. That is why I think the best news on the world stage in recent months came some days ago out of Moscow. There Vladimir Putin announced that he would project Russian force even beyond his borders to thwart terrorists. Bravo, Russia's most famous black belt. The policy sounds very much like our President's visionary policy of "preemption." The present threats to American -- and to Russian -- security do not come from nation states rattling their scabbards against us, but from shadowy figures lurking in rogue states and preparing their suicide missions. You do not deal with such international criminals with diplomacy and massed armies. You deal with them through preemption.

The Russians have a history of resorting to such tactics, and they proved effective. In Lebanon in the 1980s two KGB officers were snatched by Islamic terrorists. The response from Moscow was immediate. Four of the terrorists' colleagues or like-minded scoundrels were snatched by the KGB, who deposited their corpses in public after surgeries were committed on their persons, which we shall not elaborate on in a family newspaper. Suffice to say that the surgeries were abhorrent even to the mind of an Islamic terrorist. The KGB then let it be known that every time a Russian was murdered he would be accompanied to the hereafter by two terrorists, possibly more, all surgically modified. The Islamic terror ended.

Even Americans have dealt brutally with Islamic terror and to good effect. In 1911 in the Philippines our General John J. Pershing arrested several of the most brutal Islamic terrorists of the day. They were found guilty of capital crimes and shot but not before the bullets used by the firing squad were dipped in pig fat, thus denying them according to the rule of Islam a soft landing in Heaven. General Pershing, however, did allow one of the terrorists to escape so that he might report his chums' fate to their superiors. Islamic terrorism ended.

Now I would not prescribe such tactics as those employed by the KGB and our illustrious General Pershing for the modern age. I would not even prescribe the ribaldry of our ill-trained troops at sexy Abu Ghraib Prison. But I would say we can and should get a lot tougher with the thugs. The Marines should have been allowed to work their will on Fallujah, which is obviously a center of the gangsterism now threatening the future of a peaceful and stable Iraq. Doubtless there are other centers from which the thugs filter out to destroy their countrymen and our peacekeeping forces.

Senator Jean-François Kerry is prescribing precisely the wrong policy for dealing with Iraq. Actually it goes beyond being wrong. It is delusional. He talks as though once he is in office the United Nations and perhaps NATO will come in with gentle persuasion to pacify the primitive anarchy that is Iraq. He ignores the fact that President Bush prevailed on the United Nations and NATO before and got nowhere. In his megalomania Senator Kerry acts as though he is more influential on the world stage than President Bush. He launches pipe dreams such as "The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: We must make Iraq the world's responsibility." A noble ideal that, but frankly I think President Putin and General Pershing have a better idea than Senator Kerry of how to make people act responsibly.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.