FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Toward the Terrorist Anti-World

by Francis A. Beer

We have all watched in horror as hijackings, building implosions, and anthrax incidents have intruded into our comfortable world. These events have involved countless individual tragedies, including the victims themselves, their families, friends, and associates. We shall not easily recover from the physical and psychological trauma.

We are now searching for answers. Who did these things and why? What should we do now? One body of opinion suggests that World War III is upon us. According to this view, Western civilization itself is under attack. It is faced with radical evil and needs to use whatever force is required to eradicate it. The many people who die, innocent as well as guilty, civilians as well as soldiers, are the necessary cost of maintaining American freedom and Western civilization. The United States, to recall the words of earlier times, will pay any price, bear any burden, to make the world safe for democracy.

This vision is clear, but the path is uncertain. As United States military forces deploy for action across the globe, one wonders if vast military actions are likely to achieve their aims? Can all of the guilty be so easily located in the distant mountains and deserts of the world? Is bombing completely innocent civilians consistent with our values? Will we encourage our allies or repel them? Will we persuade the billions of people in other cultures that they want to be our partners? Do we wish to follow policies that risk escalating the already terrible losses toward the very much higher casualty levels of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam? Though one could ask the same questions of those who undertook the attacks, we can, for the moment, only try to answer them for ourselves.

Another path lies before us. Taking time to gather our breath, we should deliberately survey the terrain. What are our domestic resources to deal with the situation? The Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security for the 21st Century recently presented a report that suggested setting up a special agency to coordinate United States efforts against terrorism. The creation of an Office of Homeland Security is a step in this direction. We hope that this office will focus the considerable American resources in this area, while simultaneously maintaining our civil liberties.

Our allies have already committed themselves to work with us. Many of these allies are concerned that the strongest medicine might make the disease worse rather than eradicate or contain it. We need to take seriously their views, working with them both individually and within the global web of international institutions. French President Jacques Chirac has suggested creating a special United Nations agency that would focus on international terrorism. A special UN conference on terrorism would also be important. The United States has recently weakened the international community on which it depends by withholding its UN dues. It has expressed intentions to withdraw unilaterally from agreements on the environment, international war crimes, and anti-ballistic missile defense. We have just started to turn this policy around by finally paying our long-overdue UN bill. We should further realign ourself with the consensus of world opinion in other areas as well.

While the United States should use appropriate force, this force should be strictly limited to what is consistent with rational objectives. Prior American use of cruise missiles on innocent people in foreign countries has unsurprisingly enhanced the very enmity that underlies terrorism. We are currently using non-military means ? diplomatic consultations, economic incentives, and appeals to shared humane values ? to deal with the situation. These non-military avenues should be expanded. We should also place the highest priority on reevaluating our foreign policy in the light of recent events. We must take seriously the way that our international trade, aid, and debt policies increase popular frustrations and terrorist recruitment in poor countries. In consultation with the international community, we should ask see how legitimate opposition grievances in other countries might be addressed in a more democratic context.

We need to place all these efforts in the frame of a larger strategic question: How will our actions produce a world in which terrorism is less likely to grow, a terrorist anti-world? We now focus narrowly on our immediate response to the terrorist attack. We also need to remain true to ourselves and our long-term vision for our own society. How do we work to create a more democratic, just, and peaceful future for ourselves and for all the other people on this planet? CP

Francis Beer is a professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has just published a new book, Meanings of War and Peace.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 29, 2017
Dave Lindorff
Sy Hersh, Exposer of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, Strikes Again, Exposing US Lies About Alleged Assad Sarin ‘Attack’
Chuck Collins
What Happened to America’s Wealth? The Rich Hid It
Rev. William Alberts
When the Bible is the Root of Evil
Jeff Mackler
Trumps ‘No Fly Zone’ Escalates U.S. War Against Syria
Bill Willers
The Next World War Won’t Just Be “Over There” 
Ellen Brown
Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-Style
Jack Laun
Will There Finally be Peace With Justice in Colombia?
Binoy Kampmark
Holding the Police to Account in the UK
David Swanson
Against Ignoring the KKK
Rima Najjar
Israel’s Illegitimate Tactics Against Palestinian Armed Resistance vs. Legitimate Global Security Concerns
Mel Gurtov
Advise, Assist, Arm: The United States at War
David Welsh
Berkeley Capitulates to Police Militarization and Spying
Marion Andrew
Not Being Considerate of One’s Audience: US Television’s Coverage of Olympic and International Sports
June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail