On this Freedom Friday, I would like to discuss the problem of terrorist attacks on America. Osama Bin Laden was allegedly the mastermind behind the 9-11 assault on America, attacks on the Western World and encouraging other terrorists. Imagine that you have the responsibility to catch Bin Laden and put terrorists out of business. Imagine that you have unlimited funding, equipment, and power. How would you end the reign of terrorism permanently?
There are many ideas floating around such as: 1) Violence begets violence; therefore, we must not treat the terrorists violently. We could stop the attacks by simply showing love to the terrorists. 2) Set off a nuclear bomb over the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area and other areas where terrorists gather. This is a fairly sure way of destroying Bin Laden. 3) Prepare propaganda films with actors dressed like Bin Laden and his followers denouncing the terrorist movement and saying that Allah has changed his mind about destroying infidels and giving martyrs seventy virgins in heaven. 4) Send bunker-busting bombs to smash all the caves in the mountains where Bin Laden might be hiding. 5) If we would just talk with them and understand their positions better, they wouldn't need to attack us.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of Gadianton and his band of robbers who infested both the Nephite and Lamanite societies at various times. Mormon, the prophet who looked through all the Nephite records and compiled what became the Book of Mormon, wrote: "And behold, in the end of this book [the Book of Mormon] ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi" (Helaman 2:13).
The Gadianton robbers formed secret combinations to gain political power and to gain wealth. The robbers had secret words and signals to identify themselves to each other without letting the law-abiding citizens know who they were. These bands of robbers caused huge problems for the societies where they lived. They would live among the people and plot ways to get members of their bands elected to leadership positions. Once they had enough people in government, they would change the laws and destroy liberty. These usurpers of power caused much heartache and bloodshed.
The Nephite and Lamanite nations dealt with their terrorist problem in various ways and at different times. There was a definite cycle of good government being in power followed by robbers being in control. If the majority of the people were wicked, then the citizens supported and/or obeyed whatever the robbers wanted. When the majority of the people were righteous, the robbers were destroyed. In between these two extremes, the robber groups grew or lessened depending on the righteousness or unrighteousness of the people. There were times when the robbers lived in the mountains and only came down into the civilized areas to pillage and murder.
At a time when the Nephites were aiding and abetting the robbers in their areas, the Lamanites were hunting the robbers and destroying their craft by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ. At another time when the robber band was threatening to destroy the entire civilization if the righteous people did not join their band, the Nephites gathered up all the people, animals, crops, valuables, etc. and brought them altogether into one place. They left nothing that would sustain life outside their "fort," and they had enough food and supplies to sustain life for seven years. When the robbers came out of the mountains, there was no food except for what the Nephites had stored in their fort. The robbers tried to lay a siege several different times, but their sieges only hurt themselves. Eventually, the Nephites were able to completely destroy all the robbers or convert them to living in peace.
We live in a different time period and different circumstances than the Nephites. The robbers in the Book of Mormon had no missiles or bombs to lob through the air to kill and destroy the people and property inside the fort. They had no jet airplanes to fly into the walls of the fort. They did not have any of the technology that we enjoy today, and they fought with swords, knives, and spears. We cannot isolate ourselves in a fort like the Nephites did and let the modern-day Gadianton robbers starve themselves. It doesn't seem to work well for us to go into their mountain retreats to try to destroy them; it just makes them martyrs. Simply talking with them, loving them and treating them nicely doesn't work; it just emboldens them. In good conscience, we can't destroy whole nations to kill a relatively few bad guys.
I believe that there are several reasons why we seem to be fighting a losing battle with terrorism. I believe that the main reason for our problem is that too many American citizens are unrighteous and insist that we can say and do only those things that are politically correct. Our Constitution was written to govern a moral and religious society, and it doesn't work well with an unrighteous citizenry. America has too much immorality, too much greed, too much hate, and too much pride. God has been taken out of the classrooms and school activities, out of the work place, off government property, and nearly out of the country. America, like the Nephites, is great when the people are righteous and serve God; when the people are unrighteous, America loses the guidance and power of God. America needs to return to God in prayer and service. David didn't go out to fight Goliath in his own strength; he went out in the power of the God of Israel.
I believe that the second reason for our problem is weak defense. Terrorists and other nations attack America only when they think they can destroy America. If America shows strength, we are not attacked as shown by the following examples. Jimmy Carter was a weak President and was impotent when Iran captured many of our citizens. As soon as Ronald Reagan became President, Iran released the prisoners because they understood that Reagan was tough and meant what he said. Bill Clinton decreased our military strength and failed to pursue those who attacked us on foreign soil, and America was attacked on her own soil less than nine months after Clinton left office. George Bush made a lot of mistakes, BUT America was not attacked again while he was President. Now we have another weak President who has surrounded himself with people like himself, and terrorists and tyrants are becoming bolder. Terrorists are no longer looking to cause big explosions like destroying the Twin Towers; they are satisfied with killing a few soldiers in Texas or a few civilians in New York. Besides terrorists and others who are living in our country and biding their time to kill Americans and destroy our government, there are rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea who are waiting to see if America can be attacked safely.
So my solutions to America's security problems - with unlimited equipment, funds and power - are two-fold: 1) Build up a strong enough defense system to deter any attacks domestically and overseas; 2) Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone and insist that every person live the basic Christian values such as honesty and morality - whether or not they convert to Christianity - or lose their freedom. 3) Have less government and fewer but more understandable and enforceable laws.