To the editor:
Despite statements by columnists like Cal Thomas, we are not at "war on terrorism," we are at war with Iraq, as we have been without sufficient troops, or adequate equipment, and intelligence, since 2003. Although we have captured Saddam Hussein, we have not stabilized the country or even the city of Baghdad. We have wasted billions of dollars and U.S. and Iraqi lives without accomplishing our mission.
Warrior columnists may rattle sabers, but because of the Iraq war we do not have the will or resources to go to war with Syria, Iran or North Korea. That may be a good thing. Peaceful negotiations could be more successful than military action.
Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers - their methods are crimes. Preventing their crimes takes good intelligence and police work. The British did not prevent the destruction of 10 or 11 airliners this month by bombing Pakistan or east London. They used police work by intelligence officers with language skills and contacts among disaffected groups. In dealing with Irish terrorists earlier, they did not bomb Belfast.
We should have started training intelligence officers in Farsi and Arabic when our Iranian embassy was seized in the Carter administration. We did not. We continue to rely on "good old boys" like those who let Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen continue as double agents for years in CIA and FBI headquarters. No concern for civil liberties prevents monitoring overseas suspects, but we cannot translate what they say. Intelligent police work, not war, is the answer.