Responding to Terrorism
“One man willing to throw his life away
is enough to terrorize thousands.”
—Wu Ch’I, Chinese military commander (400 BCE)
The 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 167 people and injured 853 others.
Photo by Charles Porter/ZUMA Press.
(©) Copyright 2005 by Charles Porter
Some of the greatest threats to peace now come from terrorists who are not necessarily affiliated with or officially sponsored by any nation. Political factions like the Taliban might host terrorists such as bin Laden. Though terrorism may be perceived as a new phenomenon, it has been around as long as recorded history. Terrorist cells come and go; they continually change and the perpetrators are not uniformed. Like guerrillas, they are difficult to distinguish from law-abiding citizens.
Could the police be a better tool for dealing with terrorists than the military? The military and the police are two distinct professions, with different training, experience and goals. (The term “police” includes national and international criminal police organizations such as the FBI, the CIA, and Scotland Yard.) Soldiers are trained to kill, however police are trained to prevent crime and, when it occurs, to apprehend the criminals. Consider the difference in messages between the police motto, "To Serve and Protect", and the U.S. Army 63D Armor Regiment’s motto, "Seek, Strike, Destroy".
The U.S. is spending about $8 to $9 billion per month in Iraq and Afghanistan. If that money was used to hire the world’s best policemen and detectives at an annual salary of $100,000 each, the U.S. could hire 1,000,000 of them. That is more than the total civilian and military personnel in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. The nations of the world collectively spend about 1 trillion dollars per year on defense. At a salary of $100,000 per year, that would pay for 10,000,000 international policemen. Under a single command, they could be rapidly deployed and concentrated in any part of the world where they were needed. They would supplement existing national, state and municipal law enforcement authorities.