Geopolitics

Terrorism and US Foreign Policy

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 26, 2006

In a recent softball interview with Scott Hennen, a conservative talk radio host, US Vice President Dick Cheney explained why the United States must resist the efforts of terrorists to influence the upcoming Congressional election:

I think [the terrorists are] very much aware of our political calendar here, I really do. And when you see the kinds of things that happened this year, for example, when the Democratic Party in Connecticut purged Joe Lieberman, in effect, drummed him out of the party on the grounds that he had supported the President in the global war on terror, that sends a message to the terrorists overseas that their basic strategy of trying to break the will of the American people may, in fact, work.

Osama bin Laden has talked about it. He believes firmly that we don't have the stomach for the fight long-term, that if you kill enough Americans you can change American policy.

Well, yes - that is the whole point of terrorism. What's missing from Cheney's explanation is the context in which terrorism occurs. When a nominally liberal, democratic country invades and occupies other countries, as the US has done many times either directly or covertly over the past century, terrorists use the only leverage they have, which is to try to raise the cost of occupation until voters are no longer willing to keep paying.

The humane, sensible answer, of course, is not to "stay the course" indefinitely while the terrorists gain traction, sympathy, and support, but to stop invading and occupying other countries, to withdraw existing occupations, and to start respecting international borders.

Cheney claims this will teach bin Laden that terrorism works, but that's nonsense. Bin Laden already knows terrorism works - he's seen it work in Ireland, in South Africa, in Algeria, in Afghanistan (when terrorism against the occupying foreign power was actually organized, funded, and supported by the US government), and elsewhere.

The other big question, of course, is what bin Laden wants: does he want to annihilate the United States, or does he simply want the US to get out of Saudi Arabia, Palestine (via US proxy Israel), Afghanistan, and Iraq?

History and bin Laden's own words suggest he wants the latter, not the former. When the provocation that leads some people to become terrorists ends, those people cease being terrorists. Often, like the IRA, ANC, and Hamas, they enter civil politics. (Note: this is a Good Thing.)

This, of course, would require the US to admit that much of its foreign policy for many decades - under Democratic and Republican governments alike - has been illegal, unethical, inhumane, and unfair. Doing that would do more to restore the world's opinion of the US, drain support for terrorists, and make Americans safer at home and abroad, than any amount of "counter-terrorism".

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2006 at 14:57:28

Osama Bin Laden would like to spread Sharia law all over the world. A Western Democracy like the United States would not be tolerated. The Islamic fascists hope to infliltrate the unsuspecting Western countries over time, building mosques posing as a peaceful religion. Using the liberal immigration policies of these states to invade slowly over time. Increasing their numbers in the unsuspecting countries. One day you turn around and there is a Muslim majority now wielding power in your formally Christian country. Just like the slow invasion of Italy and France by Islam. Islamic countries forbid the building of Christian churches in their countries and subject the minority Christian population to degradation attack while the Western countries allow the Islamic fascists in with open arms. The ultimate goal of Islamic fascism is no less than global domination and forced Sharia law for everyone. The Ayatollah's and Mullahs hope to bring the end of times. I say the U.S. must confront these maniacs now. Sweep these backward zealots into the dustbin of history where they belong. Appeasement will never work with these terrorist zealots. They are madmen and will never accept any compromise to their goal of Sharia domination. Look at Iran and its unwillingness to stop uranium enrichment or compromise. Remember the Taliban? The only good Islamic fascist is a dead Islamic fascist. They must be hunted down and killed like the vermin they are. Death to Al Qaida.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 27, 2006 at 23:18:17

I agree that Sharia law shouldn't be allowed in Canada...just as I wouldn't expect any other nation of the world to change their laws for me....I don't think Europe would start driving on the right side of the road just because I move over there and ask them to. Calling Canada or the US a 'Christian' nation takes quite an imagination. And before you get too wrapped up in CNN's blather - remember the WMD in Iraq? Remember the 'Incubator Babies' in 1991 (again, Iraq)? Iran is the next media/government project. If nations like the US, Russia, China, Israel etc.... would have acted as Iran has over the past couple decades in response to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the world would be a much safer place. Instead, the US and Russia have 10's of thousands of nukes ready to blow the world up several times over, yet won't allow other nations to build nuclear power plants. I agree the world is full of fascists and zealots. Unfortunately, they aren't just Muslims or Zionists or Communists - the US government has a bunch also. Serious trouble will be the only result if you truly ask one group of zealots bent on world domination to wipe out another.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 27, 2006 at 23:19:08

by the way, feel free to post a login name in the future. There's nothing wrong with sharing an opinion.That's what we're here for! Cheers

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By David (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2007 at 07:59:00

I believe the "War on Terrorism" is just a public support pretext for attacking the real problems - energy, support for the dollar, and to help sidestep a Constitution which protected citizens just a little too well.

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