August 24th, 2006

Why isn't it obvious that terrorism is crime?

Terrorism is crime. Not war. We didn't send the army after Al Capone, and we didn't send tanks into New Jersey to deal with the mafia. We did not drop bombs on Texas to deal with Enron. Step 1 of any criminal investigation is finding out whodunnit so you can arrest (or send the swat team after) the right people, and your average airstrike is not a particularly effective tool for forensic investigation. You don't send in marines, you send in DETECTIVES.

This is the big mistake we made in Vietnam. We used the army in a "police action", to fight an enemy that blended seamlessly with the civilian population rather than having the common decency to all wear the same color shirt. Turns out the military isn't very effective when the enemy isn't easily identified, and treating civilians as the enemy tends to turn them INTO the enemy after a while, so you never run out. It drags on, and on, and on, and accomplishes NOTHING. Fifteen years ago, our 41st president cited the lessons of vietnam as the reason to have a clear _military_ objective in Iraq (shoot the guys wearing this color shirt) and a clear goal (drive them back past _this_ line), and then GO HOME. His son _still_ hasn't learned this, but learning from experience does not appear to be that guy's strong suit.

And yes, crime will always be with us. This is why we have police. But it does not mean we should become a police state, because not EVERYBODY is a criminal. War and crime are NOT the same thing. Police and soldiers, NOT the same. Terrorist organizations are not governments, they're ORGANIZED CRIME. This is not a new phenomenon. Stop treating it as one.

Each war must eventually _end_. They're kind of expensive.
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