Are There Lessons in The Kampala Bombings?
As Gen. David Petraeus assumed command and control of military operations in Afghanistan, three bombs tore through Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
Included among the dead was an American aid worker, and at least six Pennsylvanian missionaries were among the hundreds wounded. Al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility.
This story begs us to re-examine worldwide terrorism in conjunction with current war strategies - and to begin to ask harder questions about what allied forces are doing alongside the war of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Because at any given moment, terrorist bombs detonate in all corners of the world.
First of these questions is: Are our torturous efforts to avoid collateral damage and civilian death sufficient to challenge an enemy whose main tactic is fear and collateral damage? Here were Americans abroad building fences around schools in impoverished neighborhoods, trying to make life just a little bit better for those who live there. Having gathered with the locals to watch the World Cup soccer finals, they were blown up.
Conversely, how confused are we about this enemy when a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday had the husband and father of two injured American missionaries say that his family wouldn't stop going on missions abroad, that "Good will come out of this." What possible good can come from constant, indiscriminate and hideous annihilation of innocents by the lunatic and relentless fringe of Islam? With that attitude, we are as lambs to slaughter.
Turning to Afghanistan, and with full appreciation that our investment there requires us to follow through, and that arbitrary timetables for troop withdrawal from that country would likely lead to the re-emergence of both the Taliban and al-Qaida, are we doing enough in conjunction with and outside Afghanistan to find al-Qaida and other hidden terrorists and extinguish them?
If we're to discover any answers to these questions, then we can start by working harder toward global solidarity and begin to appreciate who this enemy is, where he is, and what he intends for us.
Worldwide elements of radical Islam have made it clear they do not give a damn about human life, not even when those lives are committed to religious charity and the care of others. And unless opposing forces become as ruthless as their bombs are to innocent bystanders, we will not beat this evil, and over time, our will to fight will ultimately wither.
The only mindset that can possibly meet and beat this type of threat is one which respects and appreciates the enemy's intent on our destruction. It recognizes that regardless of how many schools we should build, no matter how many hearts and minds we should change, new terrorists will still be born every day. We cannot be everywhere that terrorists plot our destruction. We cannot reach all the children before guns are strapped to them and their minds are stuffed with hate.
In America, we must get away from the political foolishness that this is Obama's war or Bush's war. We must stop using Iraq and Afghanistan to gain political advantage come election time. We should debate and squabble about all issues but global terrorism. We should ask that Congress come together, not as Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, but as Americans who keenly realize that our safety, our freedom and the country's preservation depend on it.
I have often wondered whether we have emboldened the enemy and prolonged the war because of our own lack of unity and steely-eyed determination. By Thursday, the Obama administration had offered to increase support of African Union troops to help combat al Shabaab. That's good.
But let's hope that this support includes missile-laden Apache-backed teams of elite Special Forces to help those troops find these thugs, and take them out.
If there is to be an end to global terrorism, it will be when free nations begin to strike the same fear into the mind of the terrorist that he tries to strike in us. The day Islamic radicals fear that at any moment, any time, anywhere, they too can be blown up, that will be the day they begin to rethink Muslim domination of the world.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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