This is a comment on David Tucker’s article "Hellfire" sent in by a reader:
I believe Tucker errs on the side
Certainly capturing terrorists is important
because of the additional intelligence that can be
gained from them. But killing them also is important
because it accomplishes two things:
1) It undermines the belief (created by the
Clinton administration) that the United States is a
paper tiger, unable or unwilling to strike back. Bin
Laden and folks like him have spread the notion
throughout the world that the U.S. is wussy and can be
defeated by a handful of determined terrorists. Taking
out terrorists a handful (or more) at a time is an
effective counter-argument, one that Muslims will
respect, even if they hate us.
2) It makes it clear to terrorists that the middle
east and surrounding Muslim nations are not a safe
haven. There will be no more undisturbed terrorist R&R
in Yemen or anywhere else. They’ll all be glancing
over their shoulders watching for the hellfire missile
with their name on it. And next time, while they’re
watching the sky, a U.S. special forces rambo should
leap out of the sand and cut their throats.
Tucker’s concern that the Yemen strike will
provoke the terrorists to retaliate is a bit bizarre.
The terrorists already are hitting us whenever and
wherever they can, and will continue to do so whether
we react or not. We’re already on the downside, so
there is no downside in striking back. If anything,
successful retaliation by the U.S. will give the
Also, arithmetic is on our side. The tit-for-tat
will only go on only for so long. When the terrorists,
who are outnumbered, are all dead or cowering in a
cave, it ends.
Tucker also says such attacks make it harder for
us to tell the Israelis not to do the same, and such
attacks make us look like the Israelis, feeding the
Muslim belief that the U.S. is anti-Muslim.
Well, we shouldn’t be telling the Israelis not to
do the same. We should be telling the Palestinians
that until they stop the homicide bombings, we fully
support Israel’s right to retaliate against those who
direct the bombings.
As for convincing Muslims that we aren’t
anti-Muslim, those Muslims who understand this don’t
need any further convincing, and those who believe the
U.S. is anti-Muslim probably are not going to be
persuaded otherwise, no matter what we do. The best we
can hope for with the latter is simply too overawe
them with our power to kill those who attack us.
That’s the familiar Machiavellian approach I guess:
They’re never going to love us, so the next best thing
is to make them fear us.
I think the Yemen attack was all to the good. We
need more victories like this. This IS a war, not a
criminal investigation. We should prosecute it like a
war. That means killing the enemy with great vigor
whenever we can.