Osama’s Lesson from Mao

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    Terrorism is a weapon, like a sword or a gun. Just as we don’t go to war against swords and guns, we don’t go to war against terrorism. We go to war with people who use terror as the first phase in a revolutionary path. Osama bin Laden’s death illustrates the key vulnerability in this path. As Mao Zedong told us decades ago, violent revolutions must go through 3 phases. The first phase is terror, where revolutionaries use terror to discredit regimes, make governments look powerless, and incite over-reactions by the authorities. Revolutionaries also use terror to capture headlines that announce a group’s existence and attract popular support. As long as America, working with friends and allies, keeps enemies like al Qaeda in the “terror phase” of revolution, we will eventually win. Our forces will eventually find and destroy the Osama bin Laden’s of the world. All we have to do is find people like him once. They, on the other hand, have to stay undetected indefinitely. That is too tough to do in our Facebook Age. If we put the pressure on and keep our eyes and ears open 24/7, we will deny any chance for revolutionaries to graduate into the stalemate phase. This is where revolutionaries train, organize and equip into cohesive teams. According to Mao, violent revolutions demand a physical attack to unseat a government. Regimes seldom just collapse without a fight. Mao insisted that revolutions must grow in strength and cohesiveness to surmount an established government. However, if we deny revolutionary terrorists the chance to progress, they must stay in the terror phase – where we will eventually win. Like Shining Path in Peru and Che Guevara in Bolivia, Osama bin Laden suffered the inevitable fate of anyone who wields terror against America. We will pin them down while we hunt them down. We will eventually find them. We will inevitably win. For the revolutionary terrorists of the world, this is the lesson of May 1, 2011.