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TAUBE: Rejecting terror’s ‘new normal’
Republicans shouldn’t concede ground to terror
Whether we like to admit it or not, the war on terrorism is still being fought. The immediate challenge is to identify the best strategy to permanently defeat the terrorist menace. Unless you share Gen. Michael V. Hayden's defeatist view of world affairs, that is.
In an interview with Newsmax, the former CIA and National Security Agency director made this astonishing comment about the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings: "This regrettably, if it does turn out to be al Qaeda-based terrorism, might be the new normal." He continued, "I've been fond of saying that because of all the things that we've done well since 9/11, future attacks against the United States will be less complex, less likely to succeed, less lethal if they do succeed — but they're just going to be more numerous ... this may just be an example of one of those more numerous, less-complex attacks succeeding."
Since Gen. Hayden made this comment, the Boston bombings was revealed to be an act of homegrown terrorism. No links between al Qaeda and Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Chechen-Avar brothers and main suspects, have been identified to date.
That's not the point, however. Any agreement on the "new normal" when it comes to international and homegrown terrorism is akin to throwing in the towel. Instead of Chicken Little saying, "The sky is falling," it's an acceptance that the sky has already fallen — and there's nothing more we can do.
Many Democrats would probably nod their heads in agreement with Gen. Hayden's position. Alas, there are some Republicans who would do the same thing, too. That's a bad strategy for conservatives, and exactly what the political left could use to their advantage in the shrug against terrorism.
William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, recently came out swinging against conservatives accepting the "new normal." In the May 6 issue, he wrote that there "are times when the conservative party ought to be and has to be the party of normalcy, standing against utopian or destructive or foolish change. But there are times — and this is one of them — when a modern conservative party has to be the party that refuses to accept what is said to be normal."
I agree. While international terrorist attacks in cities like New York, London, Mombasa and Madrid have put safety and security into question, they should never be regarded as normal events. Similarly, homegrown terrorist attacks like Boston should never be viewed as normal. In both cases, the terrorists would move one step closer to winning because we would have moved 10 paces back.
Republicans, therefore, shouldn't accept the "new normal" of terrorism. They must combat terrorism and counteract Gen. Hayden's philosophy at every turn.
For example, the GOP must tout stronger measures on illegal immigration to help prevent any potential terrorist activity. Conservatives fully understand the important role new immigrants play in terms of enriching societies and enhancing economic prosperity. As Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote in a May 2 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Conservatives aren't anti-immigrant — conservatives are pro-legal immigration ... . Conservatism has always been about reforming government and solving problems, and that's why the conservative movement should lead on immigration reform." This would include more extensive background checks for potential immigrants as well as a thorough vetting of all application forms and references.
Next, the GOP must support tougher jail sentences for those convicted of terror plots and other crimes. While conservatives are relatively tough on terrorism, the judicial system must follow suit. Lenient sentences for child soldiers, patsies and so-called charitable arms of terrorist organizations will not help in the war on terrorism. It's up to conservatives to ensure that responsible individuals and organizations are jailed for committing these heinous crimes.
Moreover, the GOP has to continue fighting the good fight in the war on terrorism. How? For one thing, it needs to publicly support the safety and security of the nation at all costs. They have to adhere to the principle of following all leads of suspected terrorists, no matter the source or country of origin. They need to keep after the Obama administration for refusing to use the term "terror" when they darned well know this war still exists.
The world has changed since Sept. 11. Terrorism continues to exist and thrive across the globe. Strong measures against terrorism would aid the Republicans in remaining distinct from the Democrats and, hopefully, lead us back to a world resembling the "old normal."
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a contributor to The Washington Times.
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