Terrorism and a Democratic free society pose problems which are not present in any of the totalitarian style governances such as Communism, Monarchies, Fascism or Religious totalitarianism. In these governances the security forces can literally close down almost all activity relegating their populations to carefully orchestrated movements. Work transportation can be set by government, shopping for groceries can be set to limited times and all other such commerce limited extremely or closed for the time period of the emergency. By turning the society into regulated movements with careful choreography then anything not conforming to the plan is immediately obvious and a concentration of forces will quickly return things to the ordered schedule. In such a society the comfort of the people is secondary to security. If a society is prepared to give up all freedoms for the appearance and possibly improved security, then security will be increased, but at what price. In a Democratic form of governance the people’s freedoms come before anything the government desires to do and the people presumably set the level they desire on freedoms and government works around those freedoms.
Let’s look at a simply example that any man will understand and women will be amused though they would never admit so. It is Sunday morning and there is a one day sale at the mall and her favorite department store is adding additional savings above those the mall offers on purchases. Of course the Big Game comes on at 2:30 PM in the afternoon and it is approaching 11:00 in the morning and she demands that the two of you go have brunch at the mall and do a “little” shopping. Hopes of seeing the Big Game getting dimmer and dimmer, you do what any husband knows is the less painful thing and ready for the mall as quickly as possible so maybe, just maybe you will catch the last period of the game where you will have to provide your own level of excitement that the rest of the game presumably had generated. In a democracy such a decision would be voted upon and hopefully in the entire community men would all watch the game and the women, or most women, would converge on the mall and all would be happy. The real world is never that smooth and the bumps are always unexpected and raise the ire with government as somebody has to be blamed and they are as good a target as anybody, especially when you are changing the burst tire after hitting a pothole at fifty miles an hour on your way to work. You know the boss will be less than understanding, so the government is all to blame for not repairing the road; and if they are repairing the road, then why during rush hour making you late for work. Face it, government is always wrong, period.
So, terrorism, where is it that life sits on this. First thing is we all know that the routine of insanity we go through at the airport with the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) experts makes life miserable and searchs every octogenarian while ignoring any profiling which might prove effective. This is the very TSA which misses detection of 90% of items in tests run by the agency itself. This government employment boondoggle offers somewhere between none and a miniscule amount of professionalism or competence and adds nothing to the safety of flying. We all know that if each airline was responsible for their own security, then we would see automated detection systems installed around the concourses and they would work together to provide such airtight security systems which have proven well over 90% effective in detecting suspicious persons. One of the, if not the, safest airports in the world, Ben Gurion outside Tel Aviv, has some innovative security as described in this article. But then Israel had little choice but to be on the top of security and anti-terror systems, and there lies one of the greatest terror fighting tools Israel had to develop and was likely the most difficult, but establish this system they have.
Israel is the one place you see just as many people running towards the explosion or gunfire of a terror attack as are fleeing. The ones heading towards the attack are IDF personnel with weapons (yes, the IDF soldiers trained in use of their weapon in the public sphere carry their weapons with them 24/7 and consider themselves always on duty), police, security personnel, first responders, health care professionals, emergency care personnel, motorcycle first responders (they treat survivors and perform triage and necessary emergency life-saving treatment such as stopping bleeding and immobilizing injured areas etc.), and armed citizens licensed to carry weapons (in Israel to own a weapon you must pass a course or have proven training in public use of weapons as all owners are encouraged during heightened security times to carry their weapon and these were many of the responders who saved lives during the stabbing intifada recently faced in Israel). People you pass every day on the streets and in the halls in Israel may very well be the person who saves your life in the instance of a terror attack and this does not cover others with military and security expertise who are retired or in new professions who also are likely to run towards the attack instead of away. A trained public is the first and best line of defense but takes decades to get trained and functioning as intended.
But Israelis have developed systems which work with minimal input or even independently monitoring entire crowds of people looking for particular actions some of which are subconscious but found by researchers to appear on people who should be suspected and potentially watched more closely. Another system asks each individual four simple questions which are as innocuous as anyone could be asked and upon the facial expressions it picks out things which would be mostly unnoticeable to even a professional but are cues to subliminal indicators and uses these to warn of potential criminal or terrorist activity potentials. These systems have been tested in trials and have proven their effectiveness. Within a couple of years such systems will be placed in airports, malls, movie theaters, at public events, sports stadiums and across the length and breadth of many major metropolitan areas monitoring everything people do throughout the monitored areas. These systems may become so sophisticated as to be capable of using even marginally decent camera images or cities might offer purchase subsidies in exchange to hooking their systems up to the city surveillance systems expanding their web even more intrusively. But currently we need to rely on more basic human fallible systems with people watching and taking off our shoes and who knows what else just to fly off to visit the grandkids or whatever. The United States has established a frequent flier and wealthy folks go around for airport security where one goes through a precheck and is given a biometric card such that a finger print or other measure scanned and matching the card electronic record they pass right through shoes still tied and belts in place without the aggravation and indignity of the TSA rigmarole.
Currently most terrorist prevention must be carried out in secret and without the public being aware of their successes. We will most definitely hear about every fail as that will be the headlines for days, possibly weeks. When they fail then their following investigations are often very public which puts the government in a tough spot as the public demands to know what they have discovered and what is being done to assure such an attack never again strikes their fair city and government needs to keep much of what they learn and what they plan to do and change in their techniques known only to them if these changes and new lines of information are to remain effective. New procedures and lines of gathering information and other intelligence gathering systems must remain unknown to the terrorists in order for them to remain viable. That is why much of what we are told after a terror attack seems so lame, lame the terrorists already know or can know and it will not make their operations more efficient and capable of being undetected, everything else must remain hidden for the people to be best protected. Such secrecy is technically undemocratic and more autocratic making those involved in such security aspects of life more informed than the average person on the street. For reasons which are less than logical many people get all forms of upset when they know the government is not being fully open with them, especially on a subject as vitally important as terrorists and the dangers they pose. On another side, would the public expect that every physicist working on the latest nuclear warheads as government workers reveal everything about their work in the New York Times? Of course not, that would be foolish and dangerous. Defending against terrorism is exactly the same, it needs to be kept unknown generally if it is to serve to the advantage of the nation and make everybody that much more safe.
That understood, there is still much we can know which will not compromise or stop terrorism. We can know that the Islamic State is not the JV and where the average terror fighter in the Islamic State is not Kobe Bryant, their top planners and bomb makers are Kobe Bryant as far as their line of specialties are concerned. That is important for us to realize as is the fact that they want the entire non-Muslim world to either convert to Islam, pay a special tax to them for the privilege of not becoming a Muslim or dead, and by dead we mean as painfully, embarrassingly, and video-shockingly as humanly possible. Anybody who has watched their videos they chose to showcase to the world realized that they are as imaginative as they are sick and mentally disturbed. What else we need to realize is that these people are considered great minds who are making Muhammad’s and Allah’s dreams for the world be realized. Think Inquisition and you begin to realize that the Western World already survived and moved past the concept of a single world religion. Some religious groups in the West moved beyond that earlier than others, but no need to go into that.
The other thing one need realize is there is no such thing as religious terrorism. All terrorism is political. Your religion can drive your politics but terrorism is all about who rules over who and that is political. Catholicism, also known as The Church, was as much a political body as it was religious. Think Cardinal Richelieu against King Louis XIII and Queen Anne (of Austria) and the Three Musketeers? The Church in France had their own armies and the King had two armies, one of the Realm with which he would defend France herself and a royal guard, the Musketeers, who protected the crown mostly from British intrigues and the forces of Cardinal Richelieu. There was another French Monarch who was very well appreciated by the Church; his name eventually became Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, King of the Franks and protector of the Church. Those were earlier times when a small kingdom could come close to conquering half the known world; think Ottoman Empire where a small tribe from northeastern Turkey conquered much of the Caliphate and held the lands of Middle East and Northern Africa slowly losing ground before being felled during World War I. One could say that the world changed breaking between before and after World War I. Before World War I where the world had empires and royalty ruled absolutely and post-World War I where the Ottoman Empire and Austrian-Hungarian Empire were split into individual countries and the rule of Kings and Queens in Europe gave way to representative governments and the Middle East and North Africa were ruled as colonies presumably to prepare for eventual representative governments which proved expensive and was untenable leading to simply deserting these nations soon after World War II and soon after dictators rose to rule in the vast majority of these countries and their arbitrary borders were much to blame and are now collapsing.
What will rise to replace the dictatorial monarchial governances in the Middle East and North Africa will also have much to do with the potential of terrorism growing worse or lessoning into the future. Democratic governance with a separation of Church, Synagogue, Mosque and State will result in a decrease in terrorism as each elected government will face the threat as well as the West and will thus find their bases being destroyed by the governments of the countries they use as their bases currently. On the other side there is a possibility that something of the ilk of the Islamic State could become resurgent and reinstate the Caliphate on the lands which originally constituted the Ottoman Empire and striving to reestablish the entirety of the original Caliphate which at its largest stretched from Spain and southern France ending at Tours, see Charles the Hammer Martel, all the way through then Persia stopping in northern India, see Taj Mahal. The likelihood of an empire rising across the Middle East and Northern Africa are very low as long as there is an elected and largely secular government in Egypt. I would be more concerned with a Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt than the Islamic State as Egypt has a very modern and powerful military as far as equipment of arms. They have modern fighter-bombers, tanks, rifles, artillery along with support, control and communications systems. Most of their current systems are from the United States with some older USSR equipment and are contracting for modern, state of the art Russian equipment. The Saudi Royal Family also stand in command of a modern military as does Iran who have the advantage that much of their equipment is manufactured in Iran. Then there is Israel, the cork in the bottle as many a military expert has referred to her. The instability in the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa is rife with terrorist entities, some intertwined fighting one another such as Islamic State, al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda), Hezballah (Iran/Syria) and numerous smaller terror entities all embroiled in the remains of Syria and into Iraq and then the tribal groups some aligned with Islamic State, some with al-Qaeda and still others Muslim Brotherhood and some just for themselves in the imbroglio formerly known as Libya, aka the mess that Hillary made.
The solution to bring much of terrorism to an end is not that simple. One of the people at the forefront of this and with the correct idea is the current, as of this writing, President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who has called for a religious reformation of Islam and demanding that a path forward must include the ability for Islam to exist amongst the other religions and under secular governance and end its supremacy complex where it demands it be the sole religion and rule over everything which can be within its domain. Islam currently has no limitations on the extent of its domain and demands at a minimum it rule over the entire earth and that every person be a Muslim, eventually the exact same sect and potentially even learning from the same Imam. Wars in Islamic history have been fought over which leader was the legitimate leader of all Islam and that remains a point of contention to this day. There is the split between Sunni and Shiite which is the largest divide plus there are the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaeda and who knows how many other lesser sects or teachings all of which claim to hold the only true and pure form of Islam. As we have said here is the remarkable similarity to Highlander as in the end, there can be only one. Some of this is a direct result of the creed of an old Arab Bedouin saying: “I, against my brothers, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world (the stranger).” This mentality refuses anything or anyone different and is incapable of incorporating anything new or different into their lives or their ethics and politics. This is what has led to centuries of warfare as it was once the belief of humankind the world over. The initial expression of treating the stranger as a welcome guest was formalized in the Old Testament as was exemplified by Abraham and the way he would greet strangers by doing everything to be a gracious host. But such has not become the accepted norm around the globe with many cases as far from the norm as possible. Some areas on the globe have even moved further from such an open and accepting model. Much of the world still sees the other as a threat and as something or someone to be conquered or worse, destroyed completely. Until the world reaches a community of inclusiveness, terrorism will exist as a method to intimidate and destroy the other, the more technologically and often sociologically advanced and accepting ethos from what classically would be called the barbarians at the gates, or within the gates, depending on the realities. Many in the West are not seeing the barbarians at their gates and are opening their gates wide to allow them in in the mistaken belief that their great loving and accepting nature will win them over. History teaches us otherwise. We once before lost the technologically most advanced culture to the barbarians even if Rome had devolved spiritually and socially. The question is will we repeat that history again. The last time it brought on a darker age for much of the globe and allowed another culture to spread across much of the known world stopped only at some of the least expected of areas. Will we watch the world take a huge step backwards? More than likely as there is an entire liberal elite who thinking they know all better than anybody else are rushing headlong to disaster just to prove they were right, what if they are wrong?
Beyond the Cusp