The Democrats have been increasingly calling for a defensive strategy in the War on Terror, complaining that the Bush Administration has put insufficient funding into “hardening” targets and more thorough screening of ports and cargo. At the same time, they and their allies in the legal community have opposed programs permitting a strong offense – the NSA cell phone monitoring program, monitoring international financial transaction flows, and the Patriotic Act among them. In the wake of the foiled London plot to blow up a dozen or so international flights enroute to the United States, it seems that one lesson should be abundantly clear: a forward-leaning offensive strategy is more likely to succeed than a defensive strategy.
Why is this so? Simply because the team on the offense has the initiative. A defensive strategy cedes the initiative to the enemy and assumes that you can stay ahead of him every step of the way. That requires virtual omniscience. It also requires searches and invasion of privacy that I am quite certain the ACLU (and therefore the Democratic Party) would never countenance. On the other hand, an offensive strategy keeps the enemy off balance. By taking the war to his turf, it forces him to devote precious resources, time, and energy to his own defense. That’s why we must continue both the aggressive domestic and international monitoring programs as well as the forward strategy of taking the war to the enemy in the Middle East. The fact that Iran and Syria are publicly stating that the Bush Administration’s effort to create a New Middle East is a failure is an indicator that the offensive strategy may be working. It has their attention.