Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism?





Is it possible we are making things more complicated than they are? The conventional wisdom seems to be that millions hate us for a bewilderingly complicated set of reasons. They resent our wealth. They despise us for our support of oppressive dictatorships. They are frightened by the modern world we have created and want to destroy it. They are in the grip of religious zealotry. They find our support of Israel intolerable and hypocritical. And on and on. Because they hate us they want to kill us. Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore necessarily because of it).

The list is so long and involved that the reaction of many is to throw their hands up in the air in helplessness. Addressing all of these issues simultaneously is simply beyond us. Addressing them quickly enough to stave off the inevitable next attack seems flatly impossible.

So we were most interested to come across several articles by Ivan Eland, an analyst for the libertarian Cato Institute, which suggest a quick-fix, all-American-get-it-done-now solution. Eland suggests that the hatred people have for us has to be distinguished from their desire to drive planes into our buildings to kill us. While people may hate us for all sorts of reasons, the primary motivation they have for wanting to kill us is that we have taken certain specific actions that they find intolerable. Stop doing what they find absolutely intolerable and they'll stop blowing us up.

Too simple? Perhaps, but Eland provides a compelling chronology of terrorist acts that seem to reflect the formula, action/reaction, as he explains in his article, "Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism?"

Eland's List (abridged)

1915: The Senate reception room in the U.S Capitol was damaged by a homemade bomb built by Erich Muenter, a former Harvard professor who was upset by sales of U.S. munitions to the Allies in World War I.

April 8, 1983: The anti-American, Iranian sponsored Hezbollah…bombed the U.S. in Beirut, Lebanon. […] All attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon around that time were in retaliation for the U.S. military presence there.

April 1986: In retaliation for the U.S. air strikes on Libya, an American hostage in Lebanon was taken to Libya and executed.

April 14, 1988: The Japanese Red Army ... planted a bomb at the USO military club in Naples, Italy, to coincide with the [anniversary of the air strikes].

March 3, 1993: A bomb was exploded in front of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade. This attack was most likely directed at U.S. policy towards Serbia and Bosnia.

And so on. Eland's conclusion: to avoid terrorism limit U.S. commitments around the world to the bare minimum needed in support of our vital national interests and stay out of everyone else’s business.

In the real world Mr. Eland's vision may be impractical to implement. We cannot simply pull-out of Saudi Arabia, for instance, as long as Saddam, next door, is ready to pounce, putting in jeopardy our supply of oil. But Mr. Eland may be onto something. We could certainly decide that it should be a priority of the government to withdraw from Saudi Arabia (which would deprive Osama bin Laden of one of his chief grievances). Were that a priority we no doubt could achieve it, though at a cost. (Probably we would have to fight a quick war in Iraq to replace Saddam with a more friendly leader.) But the satisfying logic of Mr. Eland's formula is that we are not the prisoner of events. We can to a great extent control our fate. Action/reaction.

To be sure, we cannot abandon Israel, though Israel is a thorn in the Arab side. But would the Israeli-Palestinian conflict loom as large or as intractable if the other grievances that divide us and the Arabs were settled? Probably not. Making the changes needed to reduce the risk of terrorism would take several years, but in the context of the challenges we face, that's results in a McDonald's-minute. Liberals have been suggesting that the"fundamental causes" of Arab hostility need to be addressed to save us from future acts of terrorism. We better hope that's not the case. Most of the measures contemplated to achieve that desirable end--raising living standards, improving educational opportunities, invigorating the sclerotic economies of the Islamic world--require at least a generation, if not more. That's more time than we have.


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Ren DLC - 3/18/2003

Although I love my country and I am extremely proud of being an American, I am concerned with the way we are handling things. The fact that Our troops are fighting battles outside of our own soil, and leave all of us wide-open for attacks by the other terrorists. I understand that a lot of the things that we are fighting for overseas affect us, but I also feel that we are responsible for some of the retaliation that has been taken against us. Is it right? NO...none of this is right. But,we need to concentrate on better ways to strengthen our security here at home. Not send off our troops to get killed while we leave our shores wide open for other enemies to strike...i.e., North Korea. What exactly is the President planning as far as defense if war on Iraq is going to start and we get bombed by North Korea? We are breeding terror by not only the things we have done in the past, but also by the decisions that the Government is making in the present. We need to think thoroughly and analyze the steps we take otherwise no matter how many wars we fight and win, we will always be the target of these terrorists.


Ren DLC - 3/18/2003

Although I love my country and I am extremely proud of being an American, I am concerned with the way we are handling things. The fact that Our troops are fighting battles outside of our own soil, and leave all of us wide-open for attacks by the other terrorists. I understand that a lot of the things that we are fighting for overseas affect us, but I also feel that we are responsible for some of the retaliation that has been taken against us. Is it right? NO...none of this is right. But,we need to concentrate on better ways to strengthen our security here at home. Not send off our troops to get killed while we leave our shores wide open for other enemies to strike...i.e., North Korea. What exactly is the President planning as far as defense if war on Iraq is going to start and we get bombed by North Korea? We are breeding terror by not only the things we have done in the past, but also by the decisions that the Government is making in the present. We need to think thoroughly and analyze the steps we take otherwise no matter how many wars we fight and win, we will always be the target of these terrorists.


michael jenkins - 12/9/2002

the world doesnt resent americas wealth, rather the wars and attrocities used in its attainment.this is ytpical american tunnel vision.americas crisis is one from within ,the feeling is that america is soulless , materialistic and in practical terms has more in common with athistic soviet union than ideas of freedom or any other profitable mythology.the word so unused these days is morality,and america is not seen as a moral society,till it changes itself from within the fruit of its labours will always be poison.........though when has america ever changed.


Charles V. Mutschler - 11/6/2001

Unfortunately, there are no simple, cheap, 'quick fixes' for energy independence. All the proposed solutions have caused concerns about differing environmental or political liabilities. The much ballyhooed "Cold Fusion" process has gone nowhere for the last eight years or so because most physicists doubt that it even exists. At least, they haven't been able to replicate the results Pons and Fleishmann claimed to have obtained.

Charles V. Mutschler
-30-


David Hulbert - 11/3/2001

For a generation now-our society has had the oppurtunity to expand research and promote more efficient and diverse ways of creating energy.The prospects of solar,photovoltaic,biomass and other endeavours have fallen mostly by the wayside.Some inroads into wind power and renewable resource products like ethanol are slowly forging ahead-but we didn't learn much from, past energy crunches and panics.We still rely chiefly on oil,and seem to want it that way.More of our ever growing consumption is imported every year and as long as Saudi Arabia has more of the OPEC influence concerning price per barrel,the US will be shackled to a strange relationship with that despotic family run kingdom,and not be able to assert more energy independence.

As the war moves along,there will be again some half-hearted appeals to be weaned from Middle East Oil.You might think that oil from Canada,Mexico,and Venezuela(our chief foreign supplier)as well as any US reserves would suffice for domestic needs.Somehow it doesn't work out that way.

How wonderful it would be if we didn't have to import oil at all-especially from the Middle East.How strange that such a dynamic,creative country which inspired so many innovations to enhance our lives can't create some profitable new energy sources here at home,and provide many new jobs to boot.

Remember those stories about the 'fusion' process a few years ago?Whatever happened to that?

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