A Harvest Of Violence...The Value Of Retaliation

The terrorizing of passengers on a Pan Am plane in Pakistan and the slaughter of Jews in a Turkish
synagogue provided some critics with an opportunity to trot out five-month-old explanations of how the U.S.
bombing of Libya would not stop terrorism.

The same arguments heard in April are once again being espoused by apologists for international terror. The
real problem with our antiterrorism policy, they say, is that we are unwilling to examine the causes of terrorism.
Even if we wanted to, they add, we cannot retaliate because we don't know who the perpetrators are or where
they live.

The recent terrorist incidents should have demonstrated, however, that these arguments are just as specious
today as they were earlier. The incidents make it particularly clear that understanding the causes of terrorism is
largely irrelevant to fighting it. Those who have harped constantly on the need to understand terrorists'
motivations usually have made no secret of what they really mean: The United States needs to recognize that
Palestinian terrorists have legitimate grievances and that abandoning Israel and supporting a Palestinian state
is the real cure for terrorism. Yet the slaughter of elderly Jewish worshipers in Turkey illustrates once again that
the target of terror is not Zionists or Israel but Jews, and that so long as there is a Jewish state in the Middle
East there will be terrorism.

Both the Pan Am incident and the synagogue attack also are indicative of something many people are unwilling
to accept; that is, there are bad people out there who do not like us and there is nothing we can do to change
their minds.

That we had five months of relative peace indicates that the bombing of Libya did have an impact on
international terrorism. For the first time, the United States demonstrated that it had not only the capability but
the courage to retaliate, thereby sending the message that terrorism has a price. Perhaps even more important
was the Reagan administration's move away from its obsession with the relatively insignificant role played by
Libya in sponsoring terrorism and its focus on the involvement of Iran and Syria, the two primary sources of
Middle East terror.

This is not to say that Libya, Syria, Iran or the other supporters of terrorism have abandoned their commitment
to use terrorism; they have not, but there is now a disincentive for that support. No one ever said retaliation
would put an end to terrorism, but Israel has proved its deterrent value with its policy of retaliating against
Palestinian terrorists.

The recent attacks again raise the question of whom to retaliate against. It is not impossible to find out who is
responsible for terrorist acts.

There is also a very clear and simple nonmilitary means of retaliation that could be undertaken immediately to
combat Palestinian terrorism. All PLO "embassies" and offices around the world could be closed, including the
one in Washington. This would send a clear message that PLO-sponsored terror no longer can be cloaked in
the respectability of a political organization. As long as world leaders insist on reaffirming PLO legitimacy,
however, Palestinian terrorists will continue to receive political and financial support for their actions.