Skip to comments.The Lessons of Richard Reid
Posted on 12/31/2001 2:00:43 AM PST by H.R. Gross
After the tragedy comes the farce. Three months after the inferno of the World Trade Center, a British chap tries to blow up a plane by setting light to his shoe. It would not have sounded so funny if he had succeeded. Thankfully not everything in the world goes wrong, and the unorganised militia of flight 63 restrained the passenger with belts and sedatives and we can if not laugh at least be relieved about this story. So what lessons can be learned from this?
The first is that Richard Reid's ability to carry out an attack like this was unaffected by the political control of Afghanistan. The existence of the Brixton mosque, its infiltration by hard-liners, the availability of plastic explosives over the internet and poor airport security none of these were down to the Taliban. It seems likely that he was trained in Al Qaeda camps, probably in Afghanistan, however it seems that the networks were formed in England as were all the logistics of the exercise.
This is not an argument for leaving the Al Qaeda camps in peace. Although America's security will benefit from this action (and Britain will probably suffer from its participation) it will only be a short-term benefit. The terrorists are in the West, and not Afghanistan. Their network may be disrupted by this adventure, but this network or something like it will re-form, especially when they were already suspicious of governments and never allowed one to own them.
Terrorism will not be defeated by disrupting the training camps or the leadership of a cell-like terror network it will have to look at defeating the cells on their home ground, and, folks, that's our home ground as well. So what things can be done? Here are a few modest suggestions.
The organisers and the cheerleaders of the terror incidents are in almost every case first-generation immigrants. Richard Reid notwithstanding, so are most of the foot soldiers. This should not be surprising when one is considering international terrorism.
There will be enormous costs, both economic and political, of completely cutting off immigration even if it is only from Muslim or Arab lands. Some marginal changes could really hurt the Islamists. Social security payments seem to sustain an unduly high proportion of these people, as a brilliant piece by Mickey Kaus in Slate chronicled. We can also look at our policy of refusing to extradite those who face the death penalty back home. Britain has had to suspend habeas corpus to keep eight suspected terrorist leaders behind bars. Many of them could not be extradited because they were facing the death penalty in another country. Strange set of priorities.
How many people noticed that passenger action stopped this hijacking? A group of terrorists may not have been stopped by belts and sedatives in the same way that a lone terrorist was. Keeping guns off aircraft is not protecting passengers, just the opposite.
Another lesson is that a country should not feel responsible for its citizens abroad. The idea that Richard Reid is to receive any consular assistance, much less legal assistance, strikes most people as odd. When someone voluntarily leaves Britain, he foregoes the protections of her laws and submits himself to the protection and of the country he visits. Richard Reid did just that. This commonsense rule would also knock out one of the incredibly thin excuses that the British elite has used for going into this war. The 60 British people who died, died under the protection of the American government and it is up to America to avenge them. In the same way, it would be the UK's duty to avenge American merchant bankers killed in the City of London. This, however, had better be the subject of a separate column.
His blather about terrorism being home grown is proven false by American history. McVeigh was a once-in-history event. 9/11 was a four-times-in-a-day event, and others like the Shoe Bomber are yet to come.
Large-scale terrorism takes money, organization, and knowledge. Reid was deficient in all three. Like the carrier of cocaine from Columbia, he was merely the mule. Others paid his way around the world. Others provided the specialized plastic explosive. Others organized his murderous insanity, or he would merely be stealing purses in the streets of London.
Terrorism is a strange plant. Destroy the roots and the leaves continue to live -- for a while. But without the money, expertise and organization, they, too, will die.
I haven't seen an article yet that came from or through antiwar.com that could qualify as logical or rational. The whole world is seen through their filter. And the sweep of human history demonstrates (sadly, I admit) that they are dead wrong about war.
There are times, admittedly, that nations have blundered into entirely preventable wars. India and Pakistan are on the brik of just such a conflict. But there are other times, as with 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, that war to the finish is better than peace at all costs. The "peace in our times" of Munich led directly to the global horor of World War II.
antiwar.com cannot get Munich through their thick skulls. It will not fit in their world view, so they pretend it never happened, while proselytizing for another Munich. Their screeds are a waste of JimRob's bandwidth. They have no redeeming social importance.