Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On Fighting Terror With Terror

An influential mentor of mine, an author and former American Studies professor at the University of Texas at Austin , keeps up an ambitious stream of article and discussion forwards to and from recipients around the world. Bill recently expressed concern that he hoped the current botching of the "war on terror" would not dissuade further and future attempts to "combat" terrorists. There was even the implication that torture might be 'a necessary evil' of 'winning this war.' Such implications caused concern for some of his listservees, that his take might be too conservative.

Here's my response:

It seems to me that fighting terrorists is like fighting a fever. Or worse, as is the modus operandi of the current administration, it's like performing unnecessary surgery (on the wrong appendage) while half drunk on heavily spiked Imperialist Punch.

Fighting terror with terror is like fighting a jihad with a crusade.

Whether guerrilla fighters or government fighters, the use of terror is a symptom, not the underlying disease. Fighting terrorists with guns is like giving aspirin to a cancer patient.

Most Americans, most Iraqis, and most of the people paying attention to this clash, now feel that not only is this war not the answer but that, in this case, war is not the answer. No one is coming up with a version of war they feel might work.

Brave as we'd have to be, it seems it's time (perhaps it's ALWAYS a good time) to step up to the plate to try what Gandhi and King insisted upon -- mind over military. And goodness, not greed: clean water, clean energy, healthy croplands, food, acknowledgement, sovereignty, honesty, compassion, an overt hand out instead of hands up at gunpoint.

How about fighting terror WITHOUT terror?

I say we offer to give such divergent cultures their own space back. We don't win by trying dictate or force the outcome. We don't win by expecting others to respect us. (What invading force would you respect?) We win by having "the enemy" disrespect us less.

And it goes both ways. We don't have to respect our enemies, and we don't have to love them. But it would be good for all if we disrespected them less. That's not acquiescence. That's neutrality. Taking a series of announced and reliable steps back is not cutting and running. It is what's good for every relationship: creating healthy boundaries.

From Central and South America to Asia and Africa, we've been crowding countries with our contractors and corporations and the CIA and our super-sized, mega-militarized cavalry for a century. Maybe if those angry foreigners had their ownspace back, they'd back off, too. And both sides would win.

Some might wonder how long the positive effects of such a move might take. But how long does the military way take? It ain't quick. Especially when it (this war) more often than not seems to be taking steps backward, not forward.The goal shouldn't be to fight a more effective war but to effectively replace the war with something better, something bigger-hearted based on the thinking of better minds.

Let's make a clear and distinct shift toward peacefully sharing our bounty with the world, and the world will respectfully repay the favor.


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