The plot to blow up several American and British airplanes over the Atlantic is merely a taste of things to come. Fortunately, this particular plot was foiled by Scotland Yard and the British counterintelligence people. The death toll might well have exceeded that of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The lesson to be learned is that terrorism is a tactic, and you can’t wage war against a tactic. Just because you block one punch doesn’t mean that others won’t follow.
The root cause of terrorism is politics. People who feel offended, abused, or injured by the policies of the major powers but have no armies with which to defend themselves often resort to terror. It’s the only weapon available to the weak.
When you find yourself the target of terrorist tactics, you can’t kill your way out of it. That’s because, if left unchanged, the same policies that produced the terrorists will keep on producing them. As a matter of fact, the more terrorists you kill, the more you create, especially in cultures where revenge is an important ingredient.
What is needed is a reassessment of our foreign policy. For example, why are we hated by so many Palestinians? The answer is easy: We have been grossly unfair to them. Whatever the Israelis wished to do to them kill them, destroy their homes, uproot their orchards, confiscate their lands, subject them to all kinds of humiliation has been perfectly OK with the U.S. government. The last American president who was unafraid of offending the Israelis was Dwight Eisenhower. In 1956, he told them to get out of the Sinai or he would freeze all of their assets. They got out of the Sinai.
Today, there is no avoiding stating the plain truth: We have a problem. The government is totally paralyzed and is unwilling to issue even the mildest rebuke to Israel, no matter how outrageous its behavior. Why? Because the Israel lobby is so powerful, American politicians are afraid of it. I don’t blame the Israel lobby for the cowardice of American politicians. American supporters of Israel have a right to lobby the government. But we don’t elect politicians to serve a foreign country. We elect them to serve the interests of the American people. The politicians need to learn how to say “no” when our interests and Israel’s interests conflict.
The American invasion of Iraq created more hatred of the United States. It’s hard to think of a more stupid decision. We removed a check against Iran and completely destabilized Iraq, which is now in danger of breaking apart. That may have been our secret intention, since a broken Iraq will be weak and easy to dominate. The only trouble is, it is much more likely to be dominated by Iran than by us. We are now being harshly criticized by the elected Iraqi officials who owe their jobs to the 2,600 American dead.
We have stationed a large number of American military forces in the Persian Gulf. This is resented by most of the people. It is also stupid. What do we think? That some pirates will sail out of the Indian Ocean and steal all of the oil? Whoever runs the governments in the area will gladly sell their oil to us or anybody else.
The only way to win the war on terrorism is to revert to our republican roots and give up imperialism. We’re no good at imperialism anyway. Our foreign policy should be just what George Washington said it should be trade and commerce with all, entangling alliances with nobody, and absolutely no interference in the internal affairs of any other country.
That’s not going to happen unless Americans clean house in Washington, and what will happen if they don’t clean house is that our children and grandchildren will live under the threat of terrorism because of the stupidity, greed, corruption, and cowardice of the American political establishment.