The failure of the lawfare approach to terrorism

Leon Wolf:
... it seems clear that as between the Clinton/Obama approach of treating terrorism like a law enforcement problem, the Bush approach was much, much more successful than the Clinton/Obama approach. And before anyone goes all Trump on me and points out that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, I have to point out that Bush's approach clearly didn't change until that event.

As horrible as Orlando, and San Bernardino, and Fort Hood have been, the problem is that these attacks can get much, much worse. These attacks have involved relatively low levels of planning and weaponry (relative to what is hanging around the Middle East and in control of extremist or extremist-sympathetic governments nowadays). Already we are seeing an escalation in death tolls in these attacks even though the perpetrators have largely been self-directed radicals. It doesn't take much imagination - or a very long memory - to know how much worse it can truly get in terms of domestic terror attacks.

Maybe there are benefits to the "cowering on our own shores" approach favored by Clinton and Trump (with the proviso that Trump at least alleges that would be cowering behind a partial wall on one of our borders, for whatever good that would do). Certainly the way the war in Iraq was waged left a great deal to be desired and the American public didn't have the stomach for it at all. But it's equally clear that Bush's central premise - that we will either spend our future days aggressively fighting terrorists overseas or waging a pointless rearguard law enforcement action at home - was correct.
The Clinton lawfare approach led directly to the 9-11 attack, and the Obama lawfare approach is resulting in even more domestic terrorism.  In Clinton's case the trial of the African embassy bombers led to the revelation that the US was listening to Osama bin Laden's satellite phone.  He quit using in the months before 9-11 leaving the US without a key intelligence source that could have tipped off the attack.

Obama is using a hybrid of the lawfare approach that is in many ways just as bad.  He is using drone strikes against enemy leadership targets, instead of capturing them and gain intelligence on coming operations.  Another fundamental flaw of the lawfare approach is its after the fact nature.  The police arrive after the carnage is well underway or is already over.  By failing to aggressively destroy ISIL, Obama has allowed it to fester and create teh domestic terrorist that are killing Americans in mass murder attacks.


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