5 October 2006 - Thursday


Listening to the radio this morning, I heard a comment that President Bush made at a fundraiser yesterday. This comment intrigued me, so I pulled up the transcript.

The speech wanders here and there, taking lots of shots at "the Democrats," particularly in their effeminate response to terrorism and their total inability to comprehend how important it is that we continue to win decisively in Iraq. I'm not going to get into that again right now.

Here's what caught my attention when I heard it:

We believe strongly that we must take action to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. They [the Democrats] view this election -- they view the threats we face like law enforcement, and that is, we respond after we're attacked. And it's a fundamental difference.
It is not entirely clear what President Bush thinks the alternative to law enforcement is. In my experience, however, when Republicans repudiate a law-enforcement approach to counterterror, they do so in favor of a specifically military approach.

Assuming that the president has this dichotomy in mind, I think he is mistaken about the methods of both law enforcement and the military.

First, the law-enforcement model for counterterrorism does not at all preclude prevention. Nothing stops a police agency from disrupting a criminal conspiracy before it carries out its plans. In fact, this happens all the time, and this is exactly what the Democrats seem to want to happen in counterterrorism operations. Planning to commit a terrorist act is a crime under American law; the police do not have to wait for an attack to occur.

Second, there is no reason to believe that a military model necessarily involves prevention; if anything, military force is less likely (in governments with any sort of scruple) to be used preventively. Traditionally, it is the police who engage problems as they develop, while the military waits for the shooting to start. The former serve as a deterrent by finding and imprisoning conspirators; the latter by standing around looking lethal. And that's precisely why I favor the law-enforcement model.

| Posted by Wilson at 16:23 Central | TrackBack
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