three-part series will propose the actions I believe our government
should take to fight terrorism.
looking at those proposals, however, we need to establish some ground
isn't an option
#1: No solution is going to be perfect.
government has created ill will in many parts of the world. It has
bullied smaller countries, imposed new governments upon people who
didn't want them and demanded that other governments do what our government
wants. It's unrealistic to think that there's anything that can be
done now to quickly undo all the ill will.
been criticized for dwelling on what our government has done that
led to the terrorist attacks. But if we don't understand what provoked
this, we can't evaluate any response to it – and we can expect that
the faulty policies will continue and provoke more such attacks against
is the issue
#2: It is American foreign policy that has provoked the attacks, not
anything inherent in Muslim fundamentalism.
are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world who don't believe
in killing non-Muslims. In fact, Muslims have been killed in Arab
terrorist attacks, just as non-Muslims have.
conducted by John Miller for Esquire in February 1999, Osama bin
Laden said: "This is my message to the American people: to look for
a serious government that looks out for their interests and does not
attack others, their lands or their honor. And my word to American
journalists is not to ask why we did that but ask what their government
has done that forced us to defend ourselves."
fact that bin Laden uses bad means to achieve his ends doesn't excuse
our own government's mistakes – nor does it justify our government
doing the same things he does.
#3: Bombing foreign countries doesn't end terrorism, it provokes it.
government has bombed Libya, Iraq, the Sudan and Afghanistan, among
other countries, supposedly to teach terrorists a lesson. But the
bombings haven't caused terrorists or foreign governments to change
This is a
crime, not a war
#4: The terrorist attacks are a criminal matter, not a war.
is by definition an armed conflict between governments. No government
has claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks, and no government
has been so accused.
the present situation a war is an excuse to impose wartime policies
against Americans and foreigners – including violations of the Bill
of Rights and killing foreign civilians.
the September attacks were a crime, the government's job is to locate
and bring to trial any perpetrators who didn't die in the attacks.
If some of them are located in foreign countries, our government should
request extradition – not threaten to bomb the foreign country if
we don't get our way.
all the criminals are found and brought to trial, it doesn't mean
that bombing innocent people would have brought the criminals to justice.
#5: If you think you or America is entitled to something, reverse
the positions and see how you'd react.
doesn't turn bin Laden over to our government, ask yourself whether
you'd want your government to turn you over to the Iranian
government if it accused you of a crime.
don't think that American troops in almost a hundred foreign countries
are a source of resentment, ask yourself how you'd feel if Chinese
troops were stationed in America.
believe America has a right to bomb foreign countries for the actions
of a few, ask yourself whether you'd want foreign governments to bomb
your city because of something Bill Clinton did. (Haven't we already
established that the terrorists were wrong to act upon their hatred
for American foreign policy by killing innocent civilians?)
#6: Government does not do anything well – even those functions delegated
to it by the Constitution.
government has the constitutional authority to operate a Post Office.
But if it's urgent that a package get to the other side of America
by tomorrow morning, will you trust the constitutional Post Office
or will you use Federal Express?
assume that just because the government has the legal authority to
do something that it will actually succeed. So be careful what you
What is the
#7: There's no way to eliminate all terrorism in the world.
have existed since biblical times. There will always be such criminals
– people who will kill innocent bystanders to make a social or political
statement, or to bring pressure on a government to change its policies.
that terrorism will be eradicated is not only unrealistic, it is asinine.
It indicates that the speaker shouldn't be trusted in anything else
is realistic is the goal of reducing considerably the
threat of terrorism against the U.S.
next two articles, I will present proposals for achieving this.