Friday, August 11, 2006

WHAT MORE MIGHT BE THWARTED?

The work of the British intelligence and police to track and thwart a potentially deadly attack on transatlantic airliners is commendable. This is the kind of preventive work the multiple billions of American tax dollars being poured into Homeland Security efforts is supposed to accomplish on a routine basis. I presume that American efforts are continuously disrupting terrorism and making a daily difference. I hope American intelligence efforts will come to match the kind of preventive work British law enforcement achieved.

OUR MISSED OPPORTUNITIES. For all this, I am still quite interested in American and international leadership focusing more on addressing and draining the sources of radical Islamic hatred against the United States and the West. If, after September 11, 2001, American decision-makers would have begun to try to fully understand Islam and work cooperatively for international policy development regarding radical Islam--all the while engaging in an unprecedented international police action to disrupt and thwart terrorist activities--I am convinced we would not be continuing to simultaneously foment and counter terrorism born of radical Islamic grief.

ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE. Instead, American leadership chose to ignore radical Islamic and Middle Eastern socio-political realities and engaged in all-out war as the primary post-9/11 strategy. The execution of massive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--and consequent personnel misbehaviors fueled by the Administration’s tacit approval of brutish interrogation techniques and denial of Geneva Conventions for detainees suspected of terrorism--have further enflamed hatred toward America and the West. We have, either intentionally or unwittingly, added fuel to the radical Islamic fire.

HAS WAR WORKED FOR US? American leadership chose to invoke the right of waging “preemptive” wars on nations suspected of terrorist activities--and shortly acted on its newly declared right to such attacks. American military quickly overran Afghanistan, uprooting the Taliban and disrupting Al Qaeda activities. But four years later, objectives in Afghanistan are still tenuous. The primary American justifications for its preemptive war on Iraq have proven false--Saddam Hussein neither harbored terrorists nor weapons of mass destruction. There were no connections between Hussein and Iraq and 9/11. Hussein, truly a bloody tyrant, is out of power and on trial for crimes against his own people. But post-Hussein Iraq is sinking into civil war and chaos, largely due to American miscalculations, misunderstandings, and miscarriage of post-“war” operations and policies. The “insurgency” is largely a sectarian Islamic reaction fueled and empowered by Western ignorance and arrogance in the face of essential faith tenants pushed to the extreme.

THE WAY OUT. The way out of our international dilemma of growing radical Islam’s commitment to violence against America and the West is not more violence against radical Islam. The way out of our global peril is to take one huge step back from the brink which American policy has largely taken the world. Instead of using the foiling of this latest terrorist plot by Islamic extremists to justify and bless all actions that the Administration has thus far taken regarding terrorism, Al Quaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq, we should use this event to begin a long and dramatic change in policy. Unless and until radical Islamic concerns are fully heard, fully understood, and reasonably addressed--and this is no small or easy challenge--we will be holding our breath against unimaginable terrorist disaster every day for generations to come.

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