FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu noted before the House Government Reform Committee on September 20:
There is no international terrorism without the support of sovereign states. International terrorism simply cannot be sustained for long without the regimes that aid and abet it. Terrorists are not suspended in mid-air. They train, arm and indoctrinate their killers from within safe havens on territory provided by terrorist states…Take away all this state support, and the entire scaffolding of international terrorism will collapse into dust.
Netanyahu could not be more accurate, and implementing his vision is key to American victory in the present war.
President Bush analogized in his address to the nation, "Al Qaeda is to terrorism what the Mafia is to crime." The President’s comparison is correct in the sense that Al Qaeda and the Mafia are proficient in their modes of aggression.
However, Osama bin Laden’s network and the Mafia diverge in their relationship to the State. Whereas Al Qaeda and the Taliban are partners in perpetrating atrocities, the Mafia is traditionally antagonistic to political authority. Robert I. Friedman writes in Red Mafiya of Russia’s criminal fraternities that arose during Peter the Great, "Members were sworn to abide by a rigid code of behavior that included never working in a legitimate job, not paying taxes, refusing to fight in the army, and never, for any reason, cooperating with the police or State, unless it was to trick them." And any viewer of The Sopranos knows its protagonist is no paisan of the federal government.
To ignore terrorists’ enmeshment with totalitarian regimes would be like ignoring the role government played in sustaining American slavery. (Provisions such as slave patrols and fugitive slave laws—welfare for tyrants, so to speak—perpetuated the peculiar institution. To exacerbate matters, slave patrols conscripted non-slaveholders to safeguard the "property" of the master class. For a recent study, see Sally Hadden’s Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas.) Just as the State was an engine of reinforcement for slavery, the Taliban and its ilk furnish terrorists with a territorial aegis from justice.
House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt commented last week that "I don't think it's anybody's goal to topple governments in this." If the Bush Administration adopts Gephardt’s superficiality as strategy, our military will be deployed on a glorified pruning detail. Our soldiers will be asked to risk their lives to hack off terrorism’s branches while leaving its roots intact.
The media repeat over and over that we are engaged in a war against terrorism. This is a misnomer. Our war is (or ought to be) against totalitarianism, radical Islam and terrorism, being totalitarian pathologies. (Radical Islam and its totalitarian brethren are most certainly at war against us.)
Pace President Bush, totalitarianism does not occupy "history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies." It is indeed a lie, a profoundly murderous lie, but totalitarianism continues to enslave several populations. It continues to enslave over 20 million people in Iraq, where Baghdad obstetrician Najat Mohammad Haydar was beheaded last October for being accused of prostitution. It continues to enslave over 11 million people in Cuba, where Nestor Rodríguez Lobaina, Eddy Alfredo Mena y González, Angel Moya Acosta, and Julia Cecilia Delgado (among others) are prisoners of conscience for acts of "disrespect."
Now more than ever we must recognize that the Soviet Union’s collapse did not signify global emancipation.
Mr. Netanyahu knows whereof he speaks. May his words inform our martial vision.