Firm stand is terrorism's only deterrentTo the Editor:
There are several points in Lukas Ruecker's column ["Reagan played Rambo in hijacker interception," Oct. 29] with which I disagree. My interpretation of the crux of his statement is that the interception the Egyptian airliner was illegal and motivated by domestic political considerations. Ruecker contends that it was purely a public relations stunt to bolster President Reagan's image and popularity. He also employed the opportunity to expound his views of the Middle East situation.
I agree that a result of President Reagan's action was the increase of his popularity. However, it was not the most important effect. Past experience has demonstrated that a firm position against terrorism is the only effective deterrent, while capitulation invariably inspires terrorists to delusions of invincibility, beliefs of immunity from prosecution, and increased boldness.
It is very simplistic and unrealistic to consider PLO terrorism as isolated and separate from the issue of world terrorism. I would refer Ruecker to several books on the subject, for example, Claire Sterling's The Terror Network, which documents in detail the interrelationship of various, in some cases ideologically divergent, terrorist groups including the PLO, Italian Red Brigades, IRA, ETA, and Baader-Meinhoff. Ruecker's arbitrary dismissal of the issue of professional terrorism "For the time being, let us forget that there are `professional' terrorists..." displays either his ignorance of the nature of the PLO or his complete denial of its reality. The PLO is a professional terrorist organization similar to the IRA or the Italian Red Brigades. It has documented ties to Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, "Carlos the Jackal," the most wanted of international terrorists. Carlos professes no political orientation or motivation. He operates purely for money and the excitement of violence. PLO soldiers -- terrorists -- are trained throughout the Middle East by Syrian and Eastern European advisors beginning as teenagers. It does not hold that one man's terrorist is another man's revolutionary. Regardless of the merit of their goals, terrorist methods are abhorrent and unsupportable.
Ruecker's arguments against the President's actions seem to be: President Reagan violated international law, he upset a successful and acceptable Egyptian resolution, "... the seajacking the Italian Achille Lauro had a relatively lucky ending," though the family and friends of Leon Klinghoffer would strongly disagree, and the US action was destabilizing and will result in increased terrorist activities. Surprisingly, I agree with Ruecker that the President's action violated international law. However, do not forget that the four terrorists also violated international law. Given the choice of watching them escape or acting to bring them to justice, I am convinced that President Reagan chose correctly. The key to the argument that the US action was destabilizing is whether terrorist actions will result in response that otherwise would not have occurred. Allowing the four criminals to escape would not have reduced the frequency of terrorism. It is surprising that Ruecker, who professes such an interest in a Middle East peace settlement, would belittle the Israeli overture to Jordan. He, further, mistakenly identifies Egypt as "the best starting point for a peaceful solution." Egypt still has not been fully forgiven by the other Arab nations for its unilateral settlement with Israel and it possesses no leverage with the Palestinians. Most experts see Jordan as the key.
Ruecker's arguments present a clever facade. His employment of the Reagan-Rambo imagery is effective, but his statements lack factual support. His writing is seeped with rationalization for PLO terrorism "... Palestinian terrorism against innocent Americans civilians might be, if not justifiable, at least an understandable answer to CIA or official US-supported terrorism." He seems at times to act as an apologist for their actions. His bias against Israel taints his opinions and prevents a fair, cogent and informative discourse. Apparently, Ruecker fails to realize that appeasement fuels terrorism, and strength retards it.
Andrew Chang '87->