© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. "As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Richard Grenier
We live in a violent world and as the above quote proclaims we are either the people defending ourselves with violence or we are made safe by rough people doing violence on our behalf. Sometimes we are not at the wrong place at the wrong time, but sometimes we are.
Worldwide terrorists intend to create terror in our hearts with violence. Again we are only safe from terrorists when rough people do violence on our behalf in neutralizing those of evil intent.
The terrorist attacks we have seen this year and especially in the last weeks have one message for Americans: soft targets are attractive to people who wish to harm Americans. America like Europe is full of soft targets. How can we harden our soft targets?
The definition of a soft target is a place where the people do not have a robust active defense. Examples are public schools and community areas. They are especially Gun Free Zones where citizens are prohibited from having a gun for defense. A lack of defense is very attractive to people who are going to break the law anyway.
To people who only have seconds to live, the police will be there in minutes. The attackers assume being able to shoot unarmed citizens is good. Occasionally attackers will strike and an off-duty policeman will end the attack because he or she is armed which the attacker did not know.
As I point out often to the opponents of having citizens be allowed a robust defense, the very nature of not having a defense is what motivates some attackers. It is not often that attackers decide to shoot up a police station. That doesn't end well for the attackers and they know it.
The hallmark of soft targets is that none of the victims can shoot back. All they can do is ask for mercy as the terrorists kill them. It does not seem terrorists are deep into mercy.
So terrorists seek soft targets because it is far easier to achieve their goals. That doesn't preclude that once in a while a high value target will have armed resistance. It means that armed resistance is the only way that the terrorists can be defeated and the helpless victims might survive.
The goal to defeat attackers who hit soft targets is to not make the defense easily identifiable. When Sky Marshalls were put on commercial airplanes incognito skyjackers did not know if the plane had a defender and more importantly, if the skyjacker was going to get their head blown off. That discouraged rational skyjackers.
That is the only real defense for our soft targets: the defense must be such that people of ill intent cannot spot the defense but they know it probably will be there and active. There is not easy defense when attackers are very motivated. Having someone with a gun standing there does not always work because the person showing a gun may be the first one attacked.
But in the audience at the music hall in Paris the attackers had no one opposing them until the police arrived much too late to save many of the victims. If at the moment of attack the terrorists were summarily shot by citizens, it might have saved many victims.
There is a great truth in a false quote that is repeated often by historians of World War Two. Probably the best military man of Japan, Admiral Isoroko Yamamoto studied at Harvard University and was part of a delegation that visited the U. S. Naval War College. He spoke English well.
A false Yamamoto quote often repeated: "You cannot invade the mainland United State. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." No, he didn't say it. But it is good advice to terrorists. In America there might be a rifle behind every blade of grass so leave us alone.
That will discourage or dispatch attackers. It is only by an active robust defense can we have any hope of being safe here in America.