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Three reasons why America is better at terrorism than the terrorists

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Perhaps the terrorists should quit. Since 9-11, the United States has beat the terrorists at their own game, time and again. The most conservative estimates now say that in Pakistan alone, the U.S. has killed at least 3,000 people just using drones. Unfortunately, precise totals are unavailable. Add other countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and those in the Horn of Africa, and the toll exacted by the U.S. is much, much higher. Here are three grim reasons why the terrorists should quit.

3. America has killed more people. If we look at the numbers purely from a mathematical standpoint, the U.S. has managed to destroy more human lives than the terrorists. There are a couple good reasons for this.

First, terrorists must operate in secret, often compelled to smuggle themselves and their implements of terror past security officials, alert and concerned citizens, and so on. They are restricted to striking in small groups, or even as individuals. Before they can stage a successful attack, a number of things must go in their favor. Many plots have been foiled by investigations and hardware failures.

Conversely, American efforts are conducted in the open, at will, and with little risk to American assets. Unmanned drones fly 24-hours a day, free of fear from interception, and they deploy sophisticated, tried-and-true technology that works. The result is, it is much easier for us to strike at them than they at us. We can exact much higher body counts from terrorists.

Conversely, since 9-11 terrorists have killed only 57 Americans in attacks in the U.S., and all of those attacks have been carried out by individuals sympathetic to al-Qaeda, but were not themselves al-Qaeda operatives. Al-Qaeda operatives have enjoyed no success on American soil since 9-11.

From a body count perspective, we're the ones winning, by far.

2. Americans are not afraid of terrorists, but terrorists are afraid of us. Although the country was gripped in panic following 9-11, that fear has subsided. Color-coded terror alerts were once part of the nightly news, but now they have been dispensed with by both the media and the government. Although an alert system still exists, one would be hard-pressed to find an American who actually knows what the alert level is for a given day.

These days, it's domestic gun violence and gas prices that occupy our minds as opposed to fear of being victimized in a terrorist plot.

Meanwhile, overseas, terrorists and their communities have much to worry about. According to a series of studies conducted by the government and various activist groups, drones kill approximately 50 civilians to every terrorist. The numbers however, are difficult to assess because every entity has a different criteria for separating terrorists from civilians. Furthermore, accurate body counts are impossible to obtain. Nonetheless, the strikes are killing many more civilians than they are terrorists, so we're not just killing insurgents and jihadists, but also their families and friends. This qualifies as a form of terror. When your family cannot gather for fear of their imminent death from above, you are the one being terrorized.

In addition to the sheer number of deaths, there remains a larger number of people who are maimed and wounded as well as extensive property damage that is done. Al-Qaeda has inflicted almost zero of both on the U.S. while we have destroyed entire families and their homes.

1. We can do worse. The U.S. has a fearsome arsenal of weaponry at its disposal. From carpet-bombing B-52s, to ballistic missile nuke subs, the United States can inflict death from afar like no other country on the planet. If we add into the mix ground forces such as the Army and the Marines, which are highly-trained, and highly motivated forces, the terrorists stand virtually no chance. The strike on Osama bin Laden's compound is a shining example of this. Not only was bin Laden eliminated, but no U.S. soldiers or agents were hurt in the process.

Although several thousand Americans have been killed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. losses pale in comparison to those suffered by insurgent groups, terrorists, and civilians.

Ultimately, if the national will existed, the United States could swiftly annihilate entire populations, remotely. A drone pilot in the United States can launch a hellfire missile into a crowd of suspected insurgents in Pakistan, and an hour later, sit down to a nice hot supper at home.

While topics such as these are undoubtedly controversial, and even inflammatory to some, we must sometimes take a hard look at what we are doing and why. We cannot capitulate to terrorists, yet we cannot continue indiscriminately killing thousands of civilians. Any escalation, should be carefully considered.

We are the better terrorists, but we are also fighting a very self-restrained conflict. We have the power to do even more harm to many more people. What would it take to escalate the conflict to that level? Nobody knows. Unless both we and the terrorists agree to quit, it's likely we'll see it. And while everybody loses in war, we can guarantee that we will lose less than they do.

Much less.

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