Winning the Terror War

Meryl Yourish believes Israel is doing just that. The crux of her argument:

1. In spite of media sensationalizing, the death of Yassin has not led to “earthquakes” of revenge, thanks to the IDF and security services of Israel, as well as the checkpoints, closures, and security fence. Israelis are busy getting ready for Passover (the holiday, by the way, in which we celebrate our freedom from slavery in an Arab nation).

2. The Arab League summit, in which the 22 Arab nations were supposed to get together and agree upon their own plan to advance democracy in the Middle East, collapses into arguing over who’s going to hold the rescheduled summit.

3. OPEC may not cut production/raise prices again.

Positive signs to be sure. Still, we’ve had hope and long lulls in the carnage before. Long enough for Yasser Arafat to get part of a Nobel Peace prize, in fact.

I’m afraid there’s no “winning” this war in the short term. The supply of fanatics seems inexhaustable. Still, at least Israel is fighting back. As Harold Brown noted in the context of the US-Soviet arms race, “When we build, they build; when we stop, they keep building.” Negotiation is seen as weakness and a cause for continued killing to achieve further concessions. Fighting violence with violence is seen as provocation and cause for more violence.

This problem seems as intractable as the “war on crime.” On the other hand, it’s much more worth fighting than the “war on drugs.” This is a quandry of such magnitude that even Richard Clarke likely doesn’t have an answer.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, Middle East, Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. simpleton says:

    Meanwhile back in Iraq, theocrats make noise.
    Denounce America, Israel. …

    1. No mention of ‘ideas’. Superficially positive at best.

    This is the first time I’ve heard ancient Egypt referred to as Arab. Is this just sloppy? (I see some Yourish readers take exception.)

    2. Seems like Arab unity for furthering reform would be more positive.

    3. Oil is increasingly a proxy for the US dollar and thus a proxy for US domestic fiscal policy. The other main driver being Asian industrialization. Doesn’t seem to be related (isn’t there some ‘rule’ of rhetoric for having 3 points to an argument?).

  2. Jeremiah says:

    Technically, Egypt is an Arab country. I’m not sure what the problem is.

  3. Boyd says:

    Egypt has only relatively recently (as compared to “Ancient Egypt”) come to be regarded as an Arab country, and they’re still considered, both internally and externally, to be a “different” sort of Arab.

    Also, while I can’t tell a Libyan from a Palestinian from a Lebanese from a Yemeni from an Iraqi just by looking at them, I can almost always pick out an Egyptian. They’re quite distinct.

  4. Well, today, Egypt is Arab, but before the spread of Islam in the 700-1300 AD era on the back of migration from the Arabian peninsula, the people of Egypt weren’t Arab.