Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Professionally, I help develop young technology companies, moving them towards financial stability and success. And while I consider myself good at m

The big story coming out of Washington over the past few weeks has been the use of unauthorized wire taps by the NSA in monitoring US citizens. And while there can be questions as to whether the wire taps were legal, ethical, or necessary to prevent terrorism, there is no question that the use of these wiretaps on American citizens is exactly the type of effect hoped for by the terrorists. One could say the surveillance of our citizens is a victory for extremists and a failure for America in general.

Most people see the goal of terrorism to be killings. But in reality, the larger effect of terrorism is fear and the destruction of a way of life. Yes, the terrorist attack is much harder to defend against than a standard military attack and can be responsible for a considerable number of deaths. But the real advantage, the real devastation associated with the terrorist attack is the destruction of the safety people feel in their ways of life, and the destruction of the very principles which make our society special, the values which Muslim fundamentalists despise.

As a person living in Israel, you learn this lesson quickly. When an attack occurs, people immediately get back to work, go on with their normal lives. Do they grieve? Yes, they do, of course they do, but life moves on quickly, and people fit their grieving in where they can. And life moves on.

The fear can’t be prevented as easily. The attacks are normally on places where people go every day, on the things that are normal parts of life in Israel. Buses, the open markets, cafes, malls, office buildings, these are the targets of terrorist attacks n Israel. Some people will avoid any place with a lot of people, because you can never be truly safe from terrorism if there are a lot of people around, but every time someone takes this route the terrorist groups win a small victory.

In Israel we learn that the only way to defeat terrorism is to limit these small victories, which put together have a huge impact. But the US has not learned this lesson yet. Maybe the wire taps on US citizens is a necessity for our own security, but it is definitely a sign of our fear of more terrorist attacks, and it is clearly a huge step towards the disintegration of the values that make America so special.

I’ll leave the legality, morality, and necessity for other postings on this web site. Don’t worry, millions of people will be writing on those issues every day until Congress makes some sort of determination on the surveillance? But for this post, perhaps we should question whether, by trying to win the battle and prevent further terrorist attacks, we are losing the war on terrorism.

Posted by Scottage at 1:38 AM / | |