Seven and a half years following the signing of the Oslo Accords, seven and a half years of exacerbated anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement by PLO’s education and media systems, seven and a half years of unprecedented Palestinian non-compliance and terrorism in spite of – and due to – unprecedented Israeli concessions, have demonstrated that there is no political solution to Palestinian terrorism.
Contrary to IRA terrorism, Palestinian terrorism has constituted an instrument of annihilation (of Israel) rather than eventual co-existence (with England). In face of annihilationist terrorism one has to employ offensive, rather than defensive, tactics, and military, rather than political, force.
In 1986, Qadaffi was a key member of International Terrorism, Inc., aiming to undermine US strategic interests. Two American soldiers were killed, in April 1986, by a bomb blast at the West Berlin discotheque, La Belle. Two American soldiers were killed, in August 1985, by a car bomb at a US base in Frankfurt, and another US soldier was murdered there. 15 Americans were injured, in April 1985, by a bomb planted in a restaurant near a US airbase in Madrid. These terror acts – which were less costly than recent Palestinian terrorism – were perpetrated by Libya. Rather than conducting negotiation with Qadaffi, President Reagan dispatched the US Air Force to bomb Libya’s capital, Tripoli, aiming at the presidential palace, intending to eliminate Qadaffi. The US did not focus on the individual terrorists. The US activated its military might against the head, rather than the tail, of the snake! As a result of the US reaction, Qadaffi has lowered his terrorist profile substantially. President Reagan, and Secretary of State Schultz, admitted that US counter-terrorism policy was inspired by Israel’s own battle against terrorism.
In 1989, Noriega expanded his involvement in drug trafficking in Latin America and the US. Harassment of a Marine Captain and his wife, by Panama soldiers, triggered a US invasion of Panama, rather than a series of meetings between US leaders and Noriega. Some 600 Panama civilians were killed during a helicopter assault on Panama City. Noriega was captured, tried and imprisoned in the US.
In 1991, the US demonstrated that there is no political solution to a conflict with a terrorist State, and that there are enemies who are not partners to negotiation. Thus, in spite of Saddam’s eagerness to launch negotiation with the US, in the aftermath of his invasion of Kuwait, President Bush avoided a political dialog and seized the military option. He deployed 500,000 US military personnel, devastated Iraq’s military and bombed Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, with the goal of ending Saddam’s regime. A premature ending of Desert Storm, and the election of President Clinton to two terms have turned the counter-terrorism clock backward. Inaction, ineffective bombing, accommodation, negotiation and appeasement of terrorists and terrorist States have replaced the flexing of an effective military muscle. Gone were the days of “You may run, but you can’t hide!” Rather than chasing terrorist chieftains and constraining their maneuverability, they have been legitimized as statesmen, freed of most political, commercial and military constraints. Since 1993 – and in striking contrast to the legacy which earned the Jewish State sovereignty and strategic prominence – Israel has joined the club of “No Military Option. ” It has, therefore, played into the hands of the terrorists, breeding more terror and bloodshed of the innocent.
In order to revitalize the counter-terrorist effort, one has to turn the clock forward, resurrecting the military option and the posture of deterrence, which have characterized US’ and Israel’s counter-terrorism effort until 1992. It has also underlined Turkey’s and Egypt’s battle against Kurdish and Islamic terrorists, as well as Germany’s, Italy’s and France’s successful war against the Baader Meinhoff, Red Brigades and Action Directe. In fact, no cadet would graduate from West Point and its Israeli equivalent, claiming that there is no military solution to terrorism!
The Israeli electorate has, also, subscribed to the Military Option, voting out of office “There is no military solution” Prime Ministers. The 1992 election was won by a hawkish candidate (the late Rabin, who promised “no negotiation with the PLO, no Palestinian State and no Golan Giveaway), who governed as an extreme dove. The 1996 election was won by a hardliner (Netanyahu), who was transformed into an Osloite Prime Minister. The 1999 election was won, once again, by a hawkish candidate (Barak), who became the most radical dovish Prime Minister in Israel’s history. In 2001, the most dovish Prime Minister, who displayed unprecedented indecisiveness, ineptness and frailty in face of terrorism, was dealt an unprecedented electoral blow by Arik Sharon, whose name has become a synonym to military resolve, daring and creativity.
When debating the military versus the political options, in the battle against terrorism, one should recall the ancient Jewish saying: “He who shows mercy to the cruel, is bound to display cruelty to the merciful!”