American Politics, Terrorism and Islam: Part 8: How Can Terrorism be Defeated?
By Habib Siddiqui
As is well-known among experts, terrorism cannot be fought without understanding its underlying causes (and not symptoms). Unless the sources of the motivation for terrorism are diluted, attempts to thwart and eliminate it will see little success. Hatred will breed fresh recruitment. In his must-read book – The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership – Dr. Brzezinski argues that to make certain that their ranks are not replenished, however, a careful political strategy is needed in order to weaken the complex political and cultural forces that give rise to terrorism. Bottom line: what creates them has to be politically undercut.
Thus, if we are serious about not seeing a repeat of events like the 9/11, we ought to understand and mitigate the contributing factors. As has been concluded by most experts, including President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Brzezinski, there is no escape from the historic reality that American involvement in the Middle East is clearly the main reason why terrorism has been directed at America – just as, e.g., English involvement in Ireland precipitated the IRA’s frequent targeting of London. The British have recognized that basic fact and have tried to react to it on both military and political levels. In contrast, America has shown an incredible reluctance to confront the political dimensions of terrorism and to identify terrorism with its political context. The state of affairs simply worsened during G.W. Bush’s Administration. Soon after coming to power in 2001, President Bush not only ignored the Palestinian grievances but worse still, condoned and rewarded Israeli brutality against the Palestinian people. If American policy in the Middle East were even-handed and just, rather than being lopsided in favor of Israel, 9/11 may never have happened.
American relationship with the world of Islam is complicated by strong emotions and a great deal of reciprocal prejudices. It started deteriorating since at least the time of Henry Kissinger when he served as America’s top diplomat. He tilted the U.S. foreign policy very heavily in favor of the Jewish state. This, in spite of Israel’s bombing of the USS Liberty in 1967. The Iranian hostage crisis after the fall of the Shah was definitely a low point in Muslim-American relationship.
During Reagan Administration the relationship worsened further with Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. There is little doubt among terrorist experts that when on April 18, 1983 a delivery van blew up the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killing 46 people (including 16 Americans) the chief motivation was the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut that was orchestrated by Sharon. As the Lebanese Civil War escalated, American and French forces sided with the Lebanese Christian forces, thus making a travesty of the UN peace mission. On September 13, 1983, Reagan called for heavy bombing and shelling of Muslim positions to help the Christian forces. That provided the stimulus for the reprisal attack on Oct. 23, 1983 when truck bombs killed American marines and French soldiers.
When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, she claimed that the invasion was justified in retaliation for PLO attacks on Israelis. But as Tom Friedman, the Jewish correspondent for the New York Times and an unabashed apologist for the Israeli government, noted in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, the number of Israeli casualties the PLO guerillas in Lebanon actually inflicted were minuscule - one death in the 12 months before the invasion. (As later events testify Israeli terrorism has only been emboldened by a docile and compliant US Congress and White House. Israel’s casualties from rockets fired by the Hizballah and Hamas in recent years were so little that they could not have justified the latest invasion of Lebanon and Gaza, respectively. And yet, the Bush Administration sided with Israel for slaughter of Muslims. Such a carte blanche to rogue Jewish state is dangerous and immoral.)
The events of 1983 clearly demonstrate how American support of Israeli terrorism leads to terrible consequences for the United States. But even after 9/11, it seems America does not get it right. Arrogant and confident about her hyper power status, American leaders continue to ignore lessons of history, overlook what is so obvious and follow failed path like obsessed fools.
Information sharing between intelligence groups is important to stop some terrorist activities. However, in an increasingly cynical world ruled by mostly immoral political leaders with ignoble agendas that are at odds with goodwill for humanity such does not happen all the time. The Los Angeles Times, in discussing a revealing book by a former agent of the Israeli Mossad, showed that the Mossad had foreknowledge of the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, but treacherously did not warn America. That wasn’t the only time that Israel committed treachery against the USA. There are credible reports of Mossad’s foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack, which were not shared with the FBI. Such a willful avoidance to share sensitive information can only be explained in Israel’s wicked intent to swing American public opinion towards an all-out war that is scripted by Jewish neocons to reshape the geopolitical map of the Middle East, and making the region impotent against Israeli aggression. Thus, when on September 12, 2001 the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was asked what the 9/11 attacks meant for relations between the US and Israel, he replied, “It’s very good.” In a recent speech (April 16, 2008), quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, he repeated: “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” He reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.” [Interestingly, notice his choice of the word “struggle”, meaning Jihad in Arabic!]
Soon after 9/11 there was genuine empathy for America in most Muslim countries, including Iran. However, within six months, the nearly unanimous support for America gave way to increasing skepticism, when Bush’s War on Terror was increasingly viewed as a neo-Crusade against the world of Islam. The US inclination, in the spring of 2002, to embrace even the more extreme and brutal forms of Israeli suppression of Palestinians further worsened the matter. In recent years, Bush’s never-ending war on terrorism has morphed into a campaign to vanquish all potential enemies of her hegemony—from Iran to Somalia via Syria.
In his tunnel-vision approach to our world, i.e., seeing the world in terms of “us vs. them,” President Bush has forgotten that it is his evil, immoral and bad policy in the Middle East that has spawn new terrorists faster than his forces can kill old ones. He also forgets that violence against civilians, esp. dehumanization of enemy, contributes to replenishment amongst the victims’ friends and families. Simply exterminating them all will not solve the problem. Bush Administration also forgot that extreme torture tactics only help to recruit for terrorism. Not surprisingly, there are more ‘terrorists’ today in Afghanistan and Iraq than ever before! And in all likelihood, terrorism will not end with Osama’s capture or death either, as it has not ended in Iraq with Zarqawi’s assassination.
America is also heedless about the cost of terrorism. This attitude is simply insane and untenable, especially, in the light of a recently published CRS Report for Congress (April 11, 2008) on the cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq that shows that a total of $700 billion was approved as of December 2007 by the Congress since the 9/11 attacks. In February 2008, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the funding could reach from 1.1 to 1.7 trillion USD for fiscal years 2001-2018. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already killed some 5000 occupation soldiers (almost twice the number killed in the WTC attack of 9/11), let alone killing more than a million Muslim civilians. Those wars were partly motivated by oil. And what did war deliver other than Americans having have to pay now three times in gas stations, with ripple effects felt everywhere?
Bush Administration’s unwillingness to recognize a historical connection between the rise of anti-American terrorism and America’s hegemonic involvement in the Middle East, plus immoral and unquestioning support of the rogue, racist state - Israel, is a dangerous and delusional form of denial and makes the formulation of an effective strategic response to terrorism that much difficult.
To win war against Middle Eastern terrorists, as Dr. Brzezinski has suggested in his book “The Choice” America must promote a political process that confronts the conditions that lead to the terrorists’ emergence. This is precisely what the British has been doing in Ulster and the Spaniards in Basque country, and ought to be followed by every government that wants to tackle the problem earnestly. It is that simple.
As any genuine expert would testify, addressing these political conditions is not a concession to terrorists but an important component of a strategy to eliminate and isolate the terrorist underworld. This formula for rooting out terrorism in the Arab world can start with finding a just and equitable solution to the Palestinian problem that allows repatriation of the uprooted people to their ancestral homes.
However, with an overarching influence of the Israel Lobby, no American politician is bold enough to formulate a Middle-East policy that is meaningful to combat terrorism. As a matter of fact when it comes to the Middle East, it is virtually all the same with either major political party. Not surprisingly, therefore, that we got a good dose of genuflection from presumptive presidential candidates in the 2008 AIPAC conference. Both McCain and Obama sounded more Likudnik than real Likud members of the Knesset. Obama’s statement there that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided” even exceeds what most current Israeli leaders would say and was a reminiscent of the days of Menachem Begin’s Likud. He, like most American politicians, forgets that no Palestinian, no Arab, no Muslim will make peace with Israel if the Haram-al-Sharif compound (also called the Temple Mount), one of the three holiest places of Islam and the most outstanding symbol of Palestinian nationalism, is not transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. That is one of the core issues of the conflict.
Even an ingenuous President Carter is ostracized for his frank assessment of the apartheid like condition prevailing in Israel for the Palestinian people. He is treated like a political leper in the USA. Such an attitude to silence one of the most courageous American souls paints a very sad picture about American politics and needs to be corrected for greater good of humanity.
In the wake of 9/11, America needs to examine, carefully and calmly its complex relationship with the world of Islam. That is the pre-requisite to any effective long-term American engagement in pacifying the twin dangers of terrorism and proliferation of weapons. She cannot allow militant supporters of Israel within the State Department to underwrite American foreign policy for the Middle East. She cannot deny Iran her rights to exploring nuclear energy while shuts her eyes to Israel’s possession of 150 nuclear bombs, let alone arming Israel tooth and nail. That behavior is grossly hypocritical and irresponsible. (An equitable approach would be to dismantle Israel’s nuclear arsenal and enforce a nuclear-free zone for the entire Middle East.) She cannot allow Israel to use American weapons to kill unarmed civilians. She must also take into consideration rising anti-American political and religious hostility produced by American unilateralism. She simply can’t afford Pharaohnic arrogance and Hamanic despotism.
Terrorism can be eliminated only through a sensitive recognition of motives and passion that drive it. In their quest - in which terrorism in fact is viewed (not necessarily correctly) as a ruthless tool of the weak against the powerful – the weak have one great psychological advantage: they have little to lose and, they believe, everything to gain. The power of weakness allows, according to Dr. Brzezinski, four novel realities of modern life. The first is that access to the means of inflicting large-scale lethality is no longer restricted to organized and powerful states. Second, worldwide mobility and worldwide communication both facilitate coordination and planning of underground cells. Third, democratic permeability facilitates penetration of terrorism, which is difficult to detect, something that is slightly less possible, but not altogether impossible, in authoritarian regimes. Fourth, the systemic interdependence of a modern society tends to set off chain reactions. If even a single key element of the system is disrupted, it prompts escalating social disruption and wildfire panic.
According to Dr. Brzezinski, the weak becomes strong by oversimplifying the focus of their hatred, whereas the strong become weak by doing the same. Both gain supports by demonizing what they despise. Unlike the weak, the powerful cannot afford the luxury of oversimplification. They become weak by oversimplifying their fears. Because their interests are broad and their stakes interdependent, the powerful must not simply demonize the challenge posed by the weak or reduce it to a one-dimensional scale. To do so is to risk focusing only on the symptom, while ignoring more complex and historically rooted impulses. Power and force alone are not sufficient to preserve American hegemony. It needs cooperation and not coercion at the global level.
In September 2004, the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero told something that is rarely spoken by a western leader in the United Nations about how to fight against terrorism: “It is legality, democracy and political means and ways that make us stronger and (terrorists) weaker…We can and must rationally analyze how (terrorism) emerges, how it grows, so as to be able to fight it rationally.”
He is right. Only such a multilayered approach, underpinned by a calm determination to resist the impact of terrorist attacks over a long period of time, will allow democratic politics, principles – and citizens – to prevail. Is America willing to heed to that advice? Or will she let herself drown in the bloody swamp of terrorism, some even self-instigated, because of her colossal arrogance?
June 21, 2008
 See this author’s article - Allegations of Israeli Terrorism.
 Mossad’s Checkered Past, Los Angeles Times, Home Edition, pp A-16, Feb. 27, 1998.
 See, e.g., http://www.veoh.com/videos/v552406rYaXEFgw; http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/61.html; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVDCzymSTw8; http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/govknow.html
 The New York Times, September 12, 2001.
 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/975574.html Ha’ar,etx, April 17, 2008.
 For Bush Administration’s authorization of torture during interrogations, see Philippe Sands’s book - Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. For a synopsis of Philippe Sands’s book, see his Vanity Fair article (May 2008): http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/guantanamo200805
 See this author’s article: Understanding OBL through the lenses of the past, http://www.newagebd.com/2006/apr/27/oped.html
 The London blast by the IRA cost approx. 1.5 billion dollars to the British government. 9/11 is believed to have already cost billions of dollars, not counting Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
 Senator McCain’s speech in the AIPAC conference is even more hawkish. See: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/mccains_speech_to_aipac.html
 See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/26/israelandthepalestinians.usa1 for Carter’s comment on Gaza. The blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia - the so-called Quartet - after the organization’s election victory in 2006, was “one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth,” since it meant the “imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees”. “Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing,” Carter said.
 People like Elliot Abrams, a Jewish militant supporter of Israel is an official in the national security council at the White House, has been underwriting American foreign policy for the Middle East.
 President Carter said that “Israel has 150 or more” bombs. BBC News, May 28, 2008. Note that the late Ayatullah Khomeini banned nuclear weapons development. Today, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad affirm that position, but western media won’t report this Iranian official position. IAEA reports also confirm that there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program or that she is violating NPT.