I’m a generally gloom-and-doom prognosticator when it comes to Israel. I don’t believe there will be peace here any time soon. I don’t think there is anyone to talk peace with in the “democratically” elected Palestinian world. And while I think Israel should be doing much more to combat the calls for war crimes tribunals in the wake of Operation Cast Lead (like executing such a firehose PR campaign against Hamas that anyone would be embarrassed to suggest such a moronic abuse of justice), I don’t think there is anything Israel can do to make the rest of the world like us.
But I recently brewed up another bitter cup for the rest of the world in my head, and it goes like this:
You know how one of the few sacred areas left in warfare seems to be innocent civilians? As in, those who are not supposed to be targeted by an enemy because they’re civilians? As in, we are all supposed to remain safe somewhere while our military establishments go out, dirty their hands, and risk their lives to save us?
I don’t think that’s part of the rules anymore. The Geneva Conventions lay that out as a basic reality for warfare, but it’s only a reality these days for the parties who actually signed them. And I don’t recall Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, or any of the other blood-guzzling Orcs out there signing anything at all limiting their scope of warfare. In other words, the only civilians protected by the Geneva Conventions are the ones Islamic terrorists use as shields.
This means that the rest of us are fair game. In the eyes of terrorists, everyone they don’t like is an enemy combatant. As civilian/enemy combatants, we can be killed while going to work, playing in the school yard, or shuffling along pushing a walker. To them, we are making war on them just by existing. If we die, then in their eyes we’ve died in the line of duty.
I don’t like playing by the enemy’s rules. I would prefer the West make the rules, and such rules as would make terrorism the disgusting crime it is, with punishments fit for the crimes committed. Western rules should be making fanatics terrified to go out and kill innocents, incite hatred and violence, or spread their misanthropic ideas throughout the world.
But the West has chosen to fight a purely defensive war, and until the West decides it has the moral and legal justification to go on the offensive, we civilians are stuck with our lot as combatants.
Given this state of affairs, I think it is time we prepared ourselves for the long war ahead. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Banish fear. We should go about our lives as normally as possible. We should go to work, school, and out to enjoy ourselves as much as we would if we lived in a peaceful world. This is OUR world, OUR lives, and we should appreciate what we have. Living in fear is part of the victory for terrorists.
2) Remember for what and whom we’re fighting. The West spent hundreds of years fighting off feudalism, oppressive government, and backward religion. Those are the things the terrorists are trying to re-introduce into the world. We in the West have made a world of light, knowledge, innovation, and freedom. Which would you rather have, and bequeath to the next generation?
3) Learn as much as possible about self defense. Besides teaching physical skills, good self defense also teaches focus, vigilance, and how to turn fear into strength.
I’m not saying to ignore our own safety in the face of whatever threats may face us daily. We should still make sure we and our families have emergency plans, educate our children about safety, and use sense in keeping ourselves safe.
But I am saying that we should see ourselves as part of the force needed to bring down terrorism. One useful exercise is to do all of one’s thinking about one’s biggest fears in advance. Taking the events of United Flight 93 as an example, what would we do in a similar situation? While our first thoughts naturally dart to what we can do to preserve our own lives, we should also do some thinking about the bigger picture: What can we do to bring down the attacker and end the attack? According to some sources, Yuval Aviv, an Israeli who speaks widely about security issues, believes that following the passenger foiling of the White House-bound plane/bomb by its passengers, terrorists will no longer risk being overpowered when carrying out an attack of that kind. If that’s true, then civilian soldiers should consider the merit of overpowering as many attackers as possible. It is terrorists who should be afraid to enter a crowded area, not us.
One of the reasons the West has adopted a defensive attitude toward the war on terror has been that the rules are ever-changing and it has been nearly impossible to stay one step ahead of the fiends who mastermind this insanity. My suggestions won’t bring an end to terrorism. However, by finding ways of putting the attackers on the defensive, both when attacking and when going about their terrorist business, perhaps we might help change the rules of engagement ourselves.