points out the need for a new, different approach to the world. But my fear is
that our leaders don’t believe that and won’t do it.
CIA analyst Michael Scheruer writes in Imperial Hubris that the Western leaders continue to say that the terrorists are attacking the West because they hate the freedom and culture of the Western nations. Scheruer says this isn’t accurate. The terrorists attack the U.S. and Britain because of what they do in the Middle East. They attack because of policies that wreak suffering and deprivation upon the peoples of the Middle East.
Getting this straight is crucial. We need to get it straight because the suffering resulting from war and terror is deep and this misreading of the cause threatens the values we hold dear and causes more suffering.
Violence is a downward escalation of mutual destruction. The sooner we recognize that violence begets violence the sooner we will put our minds to creative resolution of our differences in the global community.
I’m not talking of simplistic bromides to engage with terrorists in dialogue. I’m talking of addressing critical issues that lead to exploitation and death among population groups who then lend support to terrorists, or who are so intimidated by terrorists that they lose the capacity to resist. The policies of occupation do not create the conditions that fundamentally change this dynamic, occupation makes them worse.
But the very changes that give us greatest hope for change are also the same policies that the U.S. administration refuses to adopt with real commitment. We are long past the time when we can debate foreign assistance based on U.S. politics–whether we give aid to groups who pass out condoms, for example, when we think they should promote abstinence. This kind of cultural blinder detracts from the real and fundamental needs of people in the developing world for economic development, political change and education.
It’s all connected. A more enlightened and humane approach to solving the problems that leave people in poverty for generations and that result in death and destruction through war is the only way to combat terrorism and to deprive terrorists of the support base in which they operate in the Middle East.