When you saw the name “Ted Koppel”, your first reaction was probably to wonder if he was still alive. The answer is, yes. He is.
Your second reaction was probably to wonder if he was still the same smug boring media personality reciting liberal truisms at the speed of a snail.
The answer also yes.
And for some reason the Wall Street Journal gave Ted Koppel editorial space to write one of those “The only real danger from terrorism is if we hit terrorists too hard” op-eds from 2002.
Ted may be getting a bit senile and probably thinks we’re on the verge of the Iraq War. The WSJ has no such excuse.
June 28, 2014, will mark the 100th anniversary of what is arguably the most eventful terrorist attack in history. That was the day that Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, shot and killed the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
In one of those mega-oversimplifications that journalists love and historians abhor, the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife, Sophie, led directly and unavoidably to World War I. Between 1914 and 1918, 37 million soldiers and civilians were injured or killed. If there should ever be a terrorists’ Hall of Fame, Gavrilo Princip will surely deserve consideration as its most effective practitioner.
Terrorism, after all, is designed to produce overreaction. It is the means by which the weak induce the powerful to inflict damage upon themselves—and al Qaeda and groups like it are surely counting on that as the centerpiece of their strategy.
The problem with Ted Koppel’s argument is that Gavrilo Princip was backed by the Serbian government. Shouldn’t Austria-Hungary have declared war on a country that assassinated the heir to its throne?
By the standards of World War I, however, the United States has responded to the goading of contemporary terrorism with relative moderation
WWI wasn’t being fought about terrorism. The proximate trigger of an escalating conflict is not necessarily about the trigger. Ted Koppel claiming that WWI was about terrorism is not only ahistorical, it’s retarded.
In February of 1993, before most of us had any real awareness of al Qaeda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who would later be identified as the principal architect of 9/11, financed an earlier attack on the World Trade Center with car bombs that killed six and injured more than 1,000.
Five years later, al Qaeda launched synchronized attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 220 and injuring well over 4,000 people. In October 2000, al Qaeda operatives rammed a boat carrying explosives into the USS Cole, which was docked in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 were injured.
Each of these attacks occurred during the presidency of Bill Clinton. In each case, the U.S. responded with caution and restraint. Covert and special operations were launched. The U.S. came close to killing or capturing Osama bin Laden at least twice, but there was a clear awareness among many policy makers that bin Laden might be trying to lure the U.S. into overreacting. Clinton administration counterterrorism policy erred, if at all, on the side of excessive caution.
No, Bin Laden wasn’t trying to lure the US into an overreaction. He was trying to humiliate America by showing its weakness and impotence. That is why all those major attacks occurred before the War on Terror began.
Bill Clinton let Bin Laden run wild. And these were the consequences. Koppel resurrects the idiotic liberal formula in which the only way to defeat terrorism is to pretend it’s not happening.
Yet when all is said and done, al Qaeda—by most accounts decimated and battered by more than a decade of the worst damage that the world’s most powerful nation can inflict—remains a serious enough threat that Washington ordered 19 of its embassies to pull up their drawbridges and take shelter for fear of what those terrorists still might do.
It remains a threat because instead of dealing with its sponsors, we’ve been playing whack-a-drone.
Will terrorists kill innocent civilians in the years to come? Of course. They did so more than 100 years ago, when they were called anarchists—and a responsible nation-state must take reasonable measures to protect its citizens. But there is no way to completely eliminate terrorism.
There’s no way to eliminate terrorism. There is a way to eliminate terrorist groups.
These are facile arguments from a decade ago that Ted Koppel idiotically resurrects as if his strawmen were serious ideas. Also failing to deal with left-wing terror 100 years ago helped usher in Communist takeovers that nearly destroyed the world.
Over the coming years many more Americans will die in car crashes, of gunshot wounds inflicted by family members and by falling off ladders than from any attack by al Qaeda.
Also more people died of natural causes than died in the Holocaust. It’s liberal idiocy to think this forms some kind of coherent thought.
More Americans died in car crashes, gunshot wounds and by falling off ladders than died in Pearl Harbor. Clearly FDR shouldn’t have overreacted.
There is always the nightmare of terrorists acquiring and using a weapon of mass destruction. But nothing would give our terrorist enemies greater satisfaction than that we focus obsessively on that remote possibility, and restrict our lives and liberties accordingly.
Authorities in Iraq say they have uncovered an al-Qaeda plot to use chemical weapons, as well as to smuggle them to Europe and North America.
Go back to 2003, Ted.