Monday, July 25, 2005

Responding to a Critic

Whenever I've talked about terrorism and how many on the Left make excuses, I usually get a response from someone named Brian. I haven't responded because I had hoped my views were clear not just a parroting of the Bush party line.

Here are his latest comments:

I agree and have written as much ( freedom-fighters-murder-18-iraqi-kids.html for example).

However, it would be nice if you recognized that terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. Foreign policy decisions have consequences. The US invaded and are occupying the (formerly) sovereign country of Iraq. Justified or not, this has consequences.

The US offers unconditional, unquestioning support for Israel. Justified or not (and I'm a firm believer in Israel's right to exist and that it's used as an easy scapegoat by Arabs but that its occupation is wrong), this has consequences.

I agree that fighting terrorism is not as simple as withdrawing from Iraq, cutting links to Sharon's government and suing the terrorists for peace. However, you need to stop pretending that the belligerent foreign policy plays absolutely no role. You need to stop pretending that neo-imperial bullying has absolutely no legitimate relevance whatsoever to resentment in the Arab world, even if it's overblown by domestic regimes for their own reasons.

Imperialism has consequences. Imperialism is very messy and very costly. There's a reason the French and the British and the Portugese got out of the empire business. As long as the US is in the empire business, we will be vulnerable; it's that simple. This isn't making excuses. It's stating time-tested reality.

Terrorism will not be defeated by blowing the most extreme elements to bits. Extremists thrive or shrivel based on the support and cooperation they receive from non-extremists.

Terrorism will be defeated by winning over the moderates and starving the extremists of the oxygen they need.

First, I never have said that terrorism takes place in a vacumn. Yes, the US does need to consider being a better broker in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But as was stated in a newspaper column earlier, the seeds of 9/11 were sown at least five years before 2001. That goes back to 1996, when yes, things were not perfect, but Israeli-Palestinian relations were a bit better than they are now. In the long run, being a more objective broker in this area will give away an excuse from the terrorists, but it wouldn't stop the terrorists cold. Britian has taken a more evenhanded approach than we have, and that didn't give them a pass.

Then there is Iraq. I have said, over and over at this blog, that invading Iraq was wrong. I think the talk of "imperialism" by some on the left is going overboard, but still, we should not have invaded unless we had good evidence. And yes, invading Iraq has created a new reason for Al Queda to spread terror. but again, changing policy won't solve things. If we leave tomorrow, what would happen to Iraq. My guess is that it would become a failed state, the perfect place for the terrorists to base themselves and to plan more attacks.

Changing policy will go a long way to starving the terrorists of "reasons" to attack. My argument is that saying the terrorists are doing what they are doing because of these issues isn't really true. They are using legitimate issues as a cover, they aren't interested in changing policy. What they are interested in is wholesale slaughter. There is no difference between them and someone like William Eric Rudolph, the confessed Olympic bomber.

So, yes, Brian I want the US to have a more objective policy towards Israel/Palestine with the goal of the Palestinains getting a state. They deserve it, and Israel needs to get real. I think Iraq was a mistake. And I think we should try to find ways to change policy. But I don't think we can stop them by simply giving in to their "demands," because they really aren't demands-they are just excuses to the terrorists and we need to realize that.


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