A war like no other (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Clifford D. May 06/14/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
Wars of the future will be very different from wars of the past.
Everyone gets that. What many people fail to grasp is this: The
current war is also very different from wars of the past.
Presently, those defending the West try hard to abide by the laws of
war. Those attacking the West say clearly that they will not be bound
by any "infidel" rules. They are committed to what they call
a “Koranic concept of war." This gives them an advantage.
The West´s advantages include sophisticated and continually advancing
technologies. We can now track and kill enemy combatants without
boots on the ground or pilots in the skies. Meanwhile, the “age of
cyberwar” is not ahead — it is "upon us” as former foreign
correspondent and Pentagon official David Jackson recently wrote.
These historic changes are causing confusion, even among those tasked
with understanding them.
For example, last week, I found myself participating in an Al-Jazeera
television show defending U.S. President Barack Obama’s use of drones
to eliminate al-Qaida commanders. Both Ray McGovern, a former CIA
analyst and a left-winger, and host Shihab Rattansi, took the view
that the use of such weapons in the ungoverned areas of Pakistan,
Yemen and Somalia constitutes a violation of international law and
fundamental morality. They presented no evidence. They simply
asserted that those killed — most recently Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-
Qaida´s second-in-command — were entitled to more “due process” than
a Hellfire missile can deliver.
Meanwhile, the Diane Rehm Show on NPR last week featured Matt Frei of
Britain’s Channel 4 News, who said that most Europeans found
it “quite appalling actually” that Obama maintains a “kill list.” He
did not say what policy most Europeans would prefer when it came to
terrorists like Libi. Perhaps sending petitions and strongly worded
Cyberwarfare was discussed, too. Indira Lakshmanan, a generally
sensible Bloomberg reporter, argued that if Americans use
cyberweapons, “let´s not think that the Iranians themselves won´t
learn from what we´ve done to them and couldn´t release similar bugs
on us with potentially devastating consequences. So that´s something
we really need to think about.”
Let´s start by considering whether it is plausible that Iran’s
rulers, the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism, would conclude
that it’s not quite fair to use such weapons — if only Americans
would refrain from using them first.
Lakshmanan´s thinking was befuddled on another score as well: “If
we´re sitting at the table with [Iranians] in Moscow next week how
are they going to believe that we´re actually trying to negotiate a
nuclear deal with them if at the same time we´re admitting openly
that we´re engaged in outright cyberwarfare with them?”
Maybe because that cyberwarfare is aimed at preventing Iran’s rulers —
who openly proclaim it their sacred duty to rid the world of
such “evils” as Israel and America — from acquiring nuclear weapons.
And maybe because what we’re offering, in exchange for a halt to
their nuclear weapons program, is an end to such cyberwarfare, as
well as the lifting of economic sanctions, a form of economic
warfare. What other deal (a) has not been offered and (b) could have
the slightest chance of appealing to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah
The New York Times´ David Sanger, a skilled reporter, chimed in with
this dubious analysis: “If a drone is very good at taking out a
living room full of terrorists, if a cyberweapon is very good at
taking out an underground centrifuge site, over the long term, do you
really solve the problem or do you raise such resentments that you
drive the Pakistanis to end up supporting al-Qaida more, that you
drive the Iranians further underground with their nuclear program?”
Of course, resentments are also raised whenever we speak out against
the hangings of homosexuals in Iran, the mass murder of black Muslims
in Sudan, and the burning of Christian churches in Egypt; also,
whenever we “insult Islam” with a novel or cartoon, or
applaud “satanic” performers like Lady Gaga. If we were to repeal the
First Amendment and stop defending ourselves, would we then be loved?
There was a time during World War II when Winston Churchill believed
the West was close to defeat. For free peoples to prevail against
determined despots, he said, would require that they regain
their “moral health and martial vigor.” In that sense, perhaps the
war of the present is not so different from wars of the past.
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