On Eliminating Terrorist Leaders

Earlier this week, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd presented a position that’s often conveyed in news reports on Israel’s anti-terror effort: the elimination of terrorist leaders actually worsens the terrorist threat, since it breeds more members of terrorist organizations.

Military analyst Elliot Chodoff has a response to Dowd:

Two points need to be emphasized: first, that it is perfectly legitimate to target, hunt and eliminate terrorists, leaders and followers alike. Second, that the policy is an effective component in an overall strategy of fighting terrorism…True, eliminating terrorist leaders will bring new ones to the fore. But the new ones will certainly be less experienced than those they replace, and with a rapid enough turnover surviving the experience will become their primary if not exclusive goal…The war against terrorists is going to be long and drawn out. More pressure on them, not less, is the only way to shorten it and reduce the number of the inevitable innocent casualties that will be sustained while it lasts.