Captain Ed reports that Ethiopian forces have smashed the last redoubt of the Union of Islamic Courts and freed Somalia from the grip of their Islamist domination. What are the lessons to applied here?
For those six months, people pointed to their tightening grip on power and determined that nothing could stop the wave of radical Islam from recapturing the old ummah, stretching from Southwest Asia all the way across North Africa. The terrorists’ willingness to die as martyrs made them invincible, or nearly so, and military force simply couldn’t match up to the asymmetrical threat.
Ethiopia didn’t believe it. They showed what happens when a nation commits to actual war against asymmetrical threats: they destroy them. Military forces go after the terrorists where they organize, and then surround them and destroy them. They don’t wait for the terrorists to come to them. And when the terrorists are on the run, you don’t get squeamish about stamping them out while they’re exposed and vulnerable.
It’s the only winning strategy against Islamist terrorism. Ethiopia knows it. and the West had better remember it.
Terrorism can be defeated — asymmetric threats play on our weaknesses — and we’re far too reluctant to use our military strength. The current plan for a “surge” in Iraq also involves giving our troops less restrictive rules of engagement that allow them to go after the terrorists in a more offensive rather than defensive way.
Terrorism only pays because the terrorists know they have a better than average chance of getting away with it. Ensure that the price of joining a terrorist group is being ripped apart by American gunfire and fewer people will join terrorist groups. Only a fraction of any given population is really gullible enough to choose “martyrdom” for a losing cause — and they tend to die quickly if someone isn’t there to refresh the supply of human ammunition. Take out the leadership that trains, equips, and coordinates a terrorist group and you destroy their ability to continue their atrocities.
The Ethiopians did what many analysts thought was an impossibility — smash the UIC. If they can do that in lawless Somalia, we can do it in disintegrating Iraq.