Mounting Effective Psychological Operations
“No one has stepped forward yet to claim responsibility for this latest atrocity!” The breathless chick in the mandatory Jane Pauley bob stares earnestly at us from the tube.
Sooner or later, of course, somebody does claim responsibility. Occasionally more than one group will do so. When this happens, a mad behind-the-scenes scramble soon produces the first expert who answered his phone. So long as this taking head can properly pronounce al Qaeda, or has the ability to sound sonorous when clearing his throat, within minutes we will be treated to his analytic insight as to why terrorist group A is the more likely culprit, or why the real perpetrator is group C who pulls the strings of A and finances B.
In the meantime, we sit on our thumbs because we really have no idea who is behind the attack. Or, perhaps we actually do know, but cannot do anything about it because of a congressional prohibition against funneling money designated for one project into another one, especially if the new project is (a) surreptitious, and (b) might result in the death of somebody – any somebody. For more information on the frustrations associated with this kind of problem, contact retired Lt. Col. Oliver North or retired Rear Adm. John Poindexter for their experiences in their covert attempt to win the release of our hostages in Lebanon.
We have an emerging picture of the modern terrorist mentality: poorly educated but possibly well-trained in one or more battle or terrorist tactics, physically trim, young to middle age, militant religious fanatic-usually Muslim, but occasionally Catholic or Protestant (Ireland), or Communist (Peru and Southeast Asia, and several 1960s holdouts), and frequently stupid-as in: it’s reasonable to kill innocents; I will die before betraying my comrades; I really expect a bevy of virgins in paradise; we have a realistic chance of defeating the world’s superpower. As in: education cures ignorance, but stupid is forever.
The fallout from our better understanding of modern terrorists is that negotiations are not an option. Trial supplies terrorists a forum to incite more terrorism. Imprisoning captured terrorists provides another reason for new terrorist atrocities. Even a terrorist’s death can become a martyr’s victory.
How then, do we stop terrorist activity without fostering an even greater level of terrorism?
Since the current international terrorists are all Muslim, we will concentrate our discussion on this element. Muslim extremists, like any other religious extremists, practice bizarre distortions of mainstream versions of their religion. A biblical prophet mentions that faith can protect a believer from a poisonous snake bite. A lively holy roller cult has made this passing comment the central theme in its bizarre religious practice of deliberately handling poisonous snakes during special religious observances. Extremist Muslims are not different, but unfortunately many of their extreme interpretations of the Koran focus their attentions outward, and their target is the Infidel – the rest of us.
Catholics avoid meat on Fridays, Orthodox Jews keep kosher diets, and practicing Muslims follow traditions that differentiate them from other people. For example, devout Muslims don’t eat pork; they are taught to use their left hand for bodily functions, and so they eat only with their right hand, and they do not touch another person with their left hand; they don’t consume alcohol; they don’t “violate” another man’s woman.
Now let’s return to the bob-headed tube chick. She announces that we don’t know who perpetrated the terrorist act. Okay, so we don’t know; but we do know who the terrorists are. If one of them steps forward to take credit, we should believe him, and take out his headquarters without worrying about “collateral damage.” If another group also takes credit, believe them too, and take them out as well. If no one steps up to the plate, then announce a random selection and take them out. We should do this immediately, forcefully, and without mercy.
Any “civilians” choosing to live near terrorist activities cannot help but know what is going on near them. Those who choose to remain near such groups after one or two of our responses deserve what happens to them. I suspect a no-man’s zone will quickly appear around any terrorist group.
On those rare occasions where we actually capture one of the terrorists, we should play up to his or her religious perceptions.
Here are some possible examples for a member of the al Qaeda network: cut off his right hand, forcing him to do everything with his left. Give him only pork to eat. Create a special international television channel that operates 24/7. Put these guys on display, and give them unbearable pain, screaming, gut wrenching pain, but only sufficient to cause them to scream in agony, not enough to kill them. Maintain this for a month, and then let them have their martyrdom. When dead, wrap them in pigskins and put them in unmarked graves.
We are not dealing with people’s constitutional rights. These are not Americans, and are not subject to constitutional protection. They are threatening our very way of life, and we cannot afford to give them any advantage, including that of acceptable martyrdom. If we desecrate captured terrorists with sufficient thoroughness, so that we obliterate even the most rabid extremist belief in subsequent Paradise, future terrorists will be much less willing to risk capture or death.
Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor