Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Filling the Swamp

Many international policy experts agree that there is a real need to reduce terrorism at its source. Drain the swamp, and kill the mosquitoes, they say. Even Rumsfeld was quoted saying this in reference to the Bush Doctrine. It is very naive to assume that 9/11 was the only terrorist action against the US; it was only the most successful. The prevailing anti-US attitude across the Arab world and increasingly in Europe (as Muslim populations grow), abject poverty, and tyrannical foreign regimes help support healthy terrorist recruitment. These and even deeper root causes need to be addressed more constructively.

The concept is clear: end the pre-conditions of terrorism and you reduce and mitigate terrorism. The means to that end are the topics of debate. So what was the president's answer to why the US was attacked?

They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

Not only does this create a naive and impossibly righteous foreign policy, it also frames the issues in the form of direct confrontation. There is no understanding or common ground we can have with terrorists, so thus the conflict is presented as "us vs. them". There has to be more to the issue than that. The planning and resources used for 9/11 alone suggests a personal abhorrence that this does not explain. They don't "hate our freedoms"! They hate our public duplicity and destructive foreign policy!

"Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem."

As David Wallechinsky puts it, these are the major reasons the Muslim/Arab world hate us:

  1. WE'RE CLUELESS - Despite out attempts at isolation and blind consumerism, we live in a interdependent global economy in which few things are actually made inside the US and most of what we buy support brutal and unpopular actions abroad. The US populace are worse than sheep, we are blind lemmings, spouting freedom and democracy while at the same time buying products from reckless and greedy corporations who violate that freedom and democracy across the world.
  2. SABRA AND CHATILA - In these two Lebonese refugee camps, over 800 civilians were massacred in 3 days while Israeli troops stationed there simply watched. Even though the US denounced the brutality, the constant monetary support of Israel regardless sends a mixed message at best. At worst, we are condoning their brutal actions.
  3. THE GULF WAR I - We all know why this happened. Oil. Sure, you can put all of the spin you want on this one, but I guarantee if oil wasn't involved, we wouldn't have been there. As a matter of fact, Kuwaitees were not known for their kindness in the region, and since then the US compounded its hypocrisy.
  4. SUPPORT FOR REPRESSIVE DICTATORSHIPS - Come on, we supported Saddam, the Taliban, and Kuwait before this "high and mighty" freedom talk began. Not only did we support these regimes, we actually in some cases, created them. In the fog of the Cold War, we stirred the pot and made the maelstrom we're in now.
So what is happening now?

Increased terrorist activity using the opium trade as revenue in Afghanistan

Afghani Poppy Farmer Drug use in Afghanistan

Protests in Iraq over coalition occupation and policies

Baghdad Protestors Bush, Saddam and Blair in effigy

Protests in the US over the US Patriot Act and the Iraq War

NY Protests

Somehow, I don't feel any safer than I did before. Instead of "draining the swamp", we seem to be filling it, ushering in a new era of imperialism and anti-American sentiment.

UPDATE 4/14/2005:

There seems to be more reasons behind the current American imperialism. China is currently setting up military bases along its path to the Middle East exemplifying a "string of pearls" strategy. The obvious goal is to create a "petroleum road" from China into the Middle East. More about this from the Washington Post's Edward Cody.

UPDATE 4/28/2005:

World Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004 by U.S. Count according to the Washington Post:
The number of "significant" international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed on the numbers by State Department and intelligence officials on Monday.


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