Decade of the Jackals

Frederick Forsyth, author of Day of the Jackal, has a nice primer on the war on terror–how we got here, and where we’re going:
“Until the mid-1990s terrorists always wanted something….Some wanted separation, some unification, some (like the Kurds) a state of their own, others (like the Red Brigades) a fully Communist state. Precisely because of that, they wanted to stay alive and see their vision come true, and therefore the Establishment could, if it wished, negotiate.
“Then a small group arose who said this: ‘We do not want anything of you but your deaths. In thousands, in hundreds of thousands and eventually in millions….We do this because Almighty God has commanded it. We have His texts to prove it. We do not fear death, we welcome it, for we are guaranteed eternal bliss if we die while killing you.’
“For eight years, under Bill Clinton, a fairly lethargic hunt was mounted for a shadowy body of religious ‘ultras’ behind the new message. Two embassies in Africa were blown up, then a destroyer in Aden Harbor. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.
“Sept. 11 happened to coincide with a new, tough, no-nonsense and hugely underestimated (by Europe’s intellectual snobs) president. Under Bush the United States thought things over and came back with a reply.
“‘We Americans can either sit and wait for the next bomb, the next carnage, the next wipeout of our citizens and then try to track down the perpetrators. Or we can identify you and use our considerable resources to hunt you down and take you ‘out of the frame’ before you strike, not after. That is called preemption, and that is what we choose to do.’
“Ever since 9/11 that is what has been happening. But the so-called war on terror goes further than the occasional eruption of secret agents into an apartment in Pakistan to arrest or kill another fanatic. The American message is more ample than that.
“It continues: ‘Terrorists cannot eat and drink fresh air. They need a place to live, camps in which to train, money to spend, equipment to turn into bombs, officers to recruit. These have to be situated on someone’s land, in someone’s country. So to all those who think it might be fun to arm, train, shelter, feed, finance, hide, furnish diplomatic facilities or false papers prepared in government laboratories — or even to touch with a 10-foot pole — those sworn to kill our fellow Americans, we say this: The party is over. Desist now, or be lumped with the terrorists and die with them. That includes the tyrant states and the failed states. Expel them or be classed with them.’
“Far enough? The American message to the tyrant states includes one extra proviso. It is: ‘There are some weapons so foul yet so simple that they may be developed in basic government programs and yet can wipe out cities. There are agents based on the filthiest and fastest-moving diseases known to man. Medieval plagues, incurable scourges. There are gases and nerve agents so strong that a vacuum flask released in a crowded place can destroy thousands.
“‘[T]hey can, if suicidal fanatics are used as the delivery system, be brought to our cities and detonated. This we will not permit. Therefore, stop manufacturing these hideous weapons, destroy what you have got, and do it now.’
“Saddam Hussein fit both categories. He manufactured some of the grisliest killer toxins known to man: He sponsored, paid for and sheltered terror. He was warned repeatedly. From 1991 he ducked and weaved, defying a flaccid, timid U.N. Security Council through 16 resolutions. But after 9/11 he was just a fool. He should have known. The United States was not joking. Not anymore.”

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