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The US Military Cannot Defeat the Terrorists
One Source One of the consequences of the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11 is that the United States is marching off to war in numerous countries around the globe. Given the terrible damage and large numbers of casualties, it is hardly surprising that most Americans want to destroy the terrorist organization(s) that launched the attacks and the government(s) that aided and abetted the terrorists. Unfortunately, there has been remarkably little public discussion as to why people from the Middle East chose to become suicide bombers intent on piloting air liners into enormous office buildings filled with people. Nor has there been much deliberation regarding the probable consequences of using military force to punish terrorists and the governments that harbor them.
President George W. Bush struck a popular chord when he charged that terrorists "have attacked America because we are freedom's home and defender." In his analysis, Americans are innocent victims of barbaric "people that hate freedom and hate what we stand for." The victims on the four highjacked planes and in the buildings were innocent victims, but President Bush is voicing a widely held myth whenever he argues that the terrorist attacks were designed to destroy freedom and democracy in the United States, or that the United States was attacked because it is the defender of freedom and democracy abroad. In fact, the United States was attacked, not because of its political ideals, but rather because of its government's foreign policy in the Middle East.
During World War II and in the years after, U.S. power flowed into the region. There the U.S. government sought allies in the fight against fascism, then communism, and lastly against an expansionist Iraq. In these conflicts American policy makers were not particular about who the help they recruited. Brutal dictatorships, repressive military governments, and absolute monarchies were all recipients of U.S. economic and military assistance. In Iran the United States government even went so far as to overthrow the country's democratically elected parliamentary government in 1953.
Today, the United States government arms and trains the militaries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and American troops help defend these countries. But these countries are run by monarchies that deny fundamental democratic rights to their peoples and vigorously oppress any opponents to their rule. The United States government also supports with extensive military and economic aid a corrupt one-party dictatorship in Egypt.
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In response President Bush has promised a war that will "secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism." But despite all the nation's vast power, a military strike at terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan, and the governments of these states, will not and cannot address the current causes of terrorist attacks. In all likelihood an American military attack on or in Afghanistan will kill innocent civilians, inflame public opinion in the Middle East, which is already largely anti-American, and lead to demands for revenge. In this environment, extremist groups will easily be able to recruit a new generation of terrorists, more numerous and committed then their predecessors. Thus the widespread use of American military power to punish and revenge the September 11 attacks ironically will leave the United States with more enemies, not less, and in the end our country will be less secure than ever. These are the tragic and predictable consequences of such a course; they need to be kept in mind when Americans discuss the use of military force to revenge and punish those responsible for terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Rossi, John P., Ph.D "More Military and less Security" Erie Times News Oct. 9, 2001