There is a good essay on the deterrence on terrorist threats today in the Wall Street Journal by Victor Davis Hanson. Leaving whatever biases about the person aside, his point rings true: were we to put our foot down and not negotiate with terrorists in 1979, we would not be where we are now.
There is a reason that Iran is the foremost defender and sponsor of terrorism around the globe: it was never told that what it was doing is illegitimate. Wrong, maybe, but the debate never questioned the legitimacy of Iran’s actions as a sovereign state holding hostages and fueling racism-driven terrorist attacks as far as South America.
He makes a good point here:
Instead, most experts explained why violent fanatics might have some half-legitimate grievance behind their deadly harvest each year of a few Americans in the wrong place at the wrong time. These experts cautioned that,instead of bombing and shooting killers abroad who otherwise would eventually reach us at home, Americans should take care not to disturb Iranian terrorists during Ramadan–rather than to remember that Muslims attacked Israel precisely during that holy period. Instead of condemning Wahhabis for the fascists that they were, we were instead apprised that such holy men of the desert and tent provided a rapidly changing and often Western-corrupted Saudi Arabia with a vital tether to the stability of its romantic nomadic past. Rather than recognizing that Yasser Arafat’s Tunisia-based Fatah organization was a crime syndicate, expert opinion persuaded us to empower it as an indigenous liberation movement on the West Bank–only to destroy nearly two decades’ worth of steady Palestinian economic improvement.
Neither oil-concerned Republicans nor multicultural Democrats were ready to expose the corrupt American relationship with Saudi Arabia. No country is more culpable than that kingdom in funding extremist madrassas and subsidizing terror, or more antithetical to liberal American values from free speech to religious tolerance. But Saudi propagandists learned from the Palestinians the value of constructing their own victimhood as a long-oppressed colonial people. Call a Saudi fundamentalist mullah a fascist, and you can be sure you’ll be tarred as an Islamophobe.
We have to see the terrorists for the criminals they are, harming both us and their fellow muslims. They have blurred the line between Islam and terrorism, not us. And in order to regain that clarity, to prove that Islam is not terrorism and terrorism is not Islam, we need many more people like Asra Q. Nomani, who took a stand in her neighborhood mosque–and, as those who care about liberty and freedom, we need to give them the safety net to do so.