Thursday, August 04, 2005

Eliminating Terrorists' Safe Havens

It's a fundamental principal of warfare that you never allow the enemy safe havens. Brits broke this rule by allowing the Irish Republic to harbor the IRA, the US broke it by leaving North Vietnam largely untouched, and is breaking it again by allowing Syria and Iran to supply the terrorists in Iraq. It should put whatever resources it needs into destroying havens in those countries.

Here's a textbook example.

In 1979, the IRA killed 18 Brit soldiers at Warrenpoint, County Down with a pair of IEDs, right on the border with the Irish Republic.

They could do this because the Republic (unofficially of course!) provided the IRA with safe havens for its killers and import and storage points for weapons and explosives. And the Brits, instead of applying applying military force to the Republic, let them get away with it. So all the IRA needed to do at Warrenpoint was move two big IEDs a few yards across the border & set up a double ambush (my emphasis).

The ambush had been carefully planned. The first bomb, weighing half-a-ton, was planted under some hay on a flat-bed lorry beside a dual carriageway 44 miles from Belfast on the Irish border.

It exploded killing six soldiers of the Second Battalion Parachute Regiment as they travelled past in a four-ton lorry at the back of a three-vehicle army convoy.

Members of the Queen's Own Highlanders, who flew to the scene by helicopter, arrived from Bessbrook base in County Armagh.

Twenty minutes after the first explosion, as the helicopter took off carrying some of the injured, the second device was detonated. Twelve more soldiers - two Highlanders and ten Paras - were killed.

At least one witness reported hearing heavy automatic fire from across the narrow canal, which formed part of the border, after the second explosion. The soldiers returned the fire. A civilian was later found dead nearby.

The British had strict orders not to pursue their attackers into the Irish Republic to avoid causing any diplomatic disputes.

So the terrorists were safe in the Republic that night, no doubt sinking pints of celebratory Guinness.

Without bases in the Republic, the IRA could not have gone on to kill thousands. Forced to stay in Northern Ireland, they would have limited places to hide, and without resupply their weapons and ammunition would have dwindled away.

Same applies in Iraq - frontiers are much bigger, but the US has much better weapons to sterilize them. It just needs the diplomatic will.