Posted by: bravo22c | 15/02/2010

On the use of Force

I posted a comment on another blog ‘Land for Peace’ about the Droppin Well disco bombing by the INLA in 1982 pointing out the ‘collateral damage’ caused in a terrorist attack on, by their lights, a legitimate target, (because the disco was used by off-duty soldiers.)   The point was made because there was a sub-thread on the blog in which, as is often the case, those who cannot, for whatever reason, acknowledge the clear difference between casualties caused by indiscriminate terrorist attacks on civilian targets and strikes by legally constituted states acting to preserve the safety of their citizens insisted on conflating the two entirely different cases.

A further point that should be noted from the Droppin Well atrocity is that internal, to a State, terrorist organisations, in the West at least, and with exceptions like the Red Army Faction, the Baader-Meinhoff gang and ETA, usually restricted themselves to attacks on, as they defined them, legitimate targets – exceptions like the bombing campaign in London, the Birmingham pub bombings and the like quickly proving themselves counter-productive – with ‘civilian’ injury or death being a by-product, not the point of an attack.  In most cases, the terrorist organisations had a clear political aim and targets were selected and careful reconnaissance carried out before the method and plan of attack was decided, all in pursuit of the overall aim of the organisation.

Whether those of restricted, partisan views acknowledge it or not, there has been a sea-change in the kind of terrorist organisation threatening Western states and also in the tactics they use.  The terrorist threat in the 21st century comes overwhelmingly from trans-national terrorist groups.  Thes groups operate in a loose coalition, are Jihadi Islamic  and their centre of gravity is Al Quaeda and its leader.   Their tactics are designed to produce the maximum number of casualties with no discrimination at all.  There is no political aim, except domination and death and injury is the point of an attack, not a by-product.

It is instructive to note the trend in the number of deaths and injuries caused by terrorist attack in the last decade:  1996 – 3,500; 1997 – 800; 1998 – 6,500, 1999 – 3,800; 2000 – 3.500; 2001 – 9.300; 2002 – 10,000; 2003 – 10,500; 2004 – 12,700; 2005 – 24,500; 2006 – 25,200.  All the numbers are +/- a few per cent.*  Killing people is the aim of current terrorist organisations.  To refuse to condemn this is beyond reason.

There have also been a number of posts/comments bemoaning the perceived dis-poportionality of the Israeli response to the abrogation of the ‘cease-fire’ in Gaza and the terrorist resumption of indiscriminate, that’s worth repeating, indiscriminate rocket attacks, designed to kill people, any people, who gives a hoot, they’re only Israelis. (Subtext, ‘Jews.’)   In this regard it is useful to understand that, in any military operation, the correct amount of force to use is ‘overwhelming,’ though commanders usually have to make do with less than this.  Anything other than the use of the closest to overwhelming force that can be achieved is a betrayal of your own soldiers and people.  There is also a clear difference between the use of overwhelming force and indiscriminate force as the precision of the air-strikes in Gaza has shown: an indiscriminate attack on Gaza would have caused far, far more civilian casualties than has been the case.

The point of this blog?  Just to note that, whether you like it or not, we are in a war with Jihadi Islamic terrorism.  Gaza is one of the battles in the war, the next one might be in a town near you.  Where will you hide when the terrorists acquire a nuclear or biochemical weapon of mass destruction?

*Source:  The terrorist knowledge base –  (Fees required.)

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