"War is a mere continuation of politics by other means." -- Carl Von Clauswitz
"All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means." -- Chou En-Lai
In the war against Western culture, our enemies have scored another victory. We have decided to close our embassy in Yemen. Yemen is where the pantie bomber received his training.
Apparently, there is no further debate that Yemen is becoming the next gathering place for those who wish to destroy us. While the pantie bomber was unable to destroy an airliner, those who sent him on his mission made our government sufficiently afraid of the political fallout of a successful attack on our embassy that they decided to close it and retreat rather than fortify it and attack our enemies there.
Weakness is provocative. A saying that goes back at least to the Romans, but I believe was also said by Winston Churchill regarding Neville Chamberlain. (For those who don't remember, Chamberlain was the British Prime Minister who declared, "I have brought peace in our time," after signing a treaty with Hitler that Germany would not conquer any more nations).
Closing our embassy is a sign of weakness just like President Clinton's decision to withdraw from Somalia and President Reagan's decision to withdraw from Lebanon. Both decisions invited more attacks from our Islamic enemies.
We are also showing weakness with our handling of the pantie bomber. Not only did we send him to the University of Michigan Medical Center for skin grafts, but we also immediately gave him an attorney who, as a lawyer, correctly told him to shut up. All of the information he has about the people with whom he trained, the people who directed him, the locations of the training camps, and heaven knows what else, are all good bait for a favorable plea bargain. The more a federal prosecutor wants to punish him for his attempted bombing, the longer the information will be withheld.
War is a very dynamic thing. Time is of the essence. Our enemies are not stupid. With each tick of the clock, they are reorganizing, moving, changing identities, etc. When we get the pantie bomber's information, odds are, it will be too late to be of any value. Initiative is always on the side of the aggressor and we have chosen to play defense. The notion that the best defense is a good offense is apparently passť.
The government could have treated him like an enemy combatant. He could have been interrogated and debriefed and the intelligence gained put to immediate use. However, in an effort to show the world that we are good guys, we are treating him like a criminal. Gosh, won't you like us now? Can't we win your hearts and minds? Don't you see that we mean you no harm?
The problem is that they want to destroy us because we are different than them. People have chosen to kill other people because of their religion since at least the first books of the Old Testament were written. Killing for God is a theme that reoccurs over and over throughout history. How do you win the heart and mind of an enemy who believes that by killing you he is doing what his god wants?
While you may be able to convert the religiously indifferent, it is quite another thing to change someone who has devout religious convictions. With every step back we take, it affirms to them that their god wants them to take a step forward. After all, doesn't God's side always win so long as his people are faithful to him?
If we want to win this war on terrorism, it is incumbent on us to show that they are not being faithful to God. They have to be soundly defeated to create a crisis of confidence. Only then is it possible to win hearts and minds.