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The need for counterterror actions is as old as war itself. The Chinese Wall is history's most famous monument.

Counterterror activity became necessary to counter tribal raiders in search of food resources or women in response to the most basic of human urges. As tribes evolved into nations, nations took on the same frailties and preyed upon one another, ultimately involving the entire globe. All this seems to be in response to the most base of instincts--to control others-- Authoritarianism. War drums may beat to the rhythm of "SURVIVAL" but that is mere propaganda--a modern drum beat being Iraq. What makes our times different is the possibility that the nuclear genie will wipe out humanity as a whole.

Nature's way is survival of the fittest-which varies by era in the march of evolution. And that is how future historians might describe the conflicts now in progress, even as they record conflict in their own times. They might conclude it is indeed Islam -vs- the "Infidels" (proclaimed jihad between religions) and Fundamentalism (extremism within religion) with enough despotism on both sides of the conflict tending to blur the holder of the moral high ground. Modern technology and weapons of mass destruction amplify such conflicts way beyond any historical precedence. It might seem pursuant to nature's way, an "enlightened winning society" will have the means and will to win.

Here is where we must be careful: Win? Win what. Peace and equality. To do that means looking in the mirror first, for only then can we know what we bring to the party. And others must do the same thing. Then Dialogue can begin.

A modern society might employ the following:

    • Maintain a dominant military for the duration, however long it takes.
    • Develop means to identify enemies within one's own society as as well as those in other societies.
    • Join the propaganda war with vivid yet accurate depictions of their society.
    • Work effectively in the family of nations for long term peace while tending to terror attacks with police action as they occur.
    • Maintain perspective; dying by terror action is a minuscule probability compared with the likelihood of dying in an accident or undiagnosed illness.
    • Find solutions for all things nuclear.
    • Employ war only as a last resort and do not hesitate to proceed in overwhelming manner if necessary; have effective nation-building policies at the ready

This approach follows nature's way and seems good at first brush. It is certainly better than what we are doing now. And it is also an expression of absolute power. It might even make the terror fighter feel good for a time, but still not win the war on terror. The reason is that the concept ignores another feature of nature. Species in conflict is an equilibrium condition having no end until species consume themselves or others. In due course (millions of years, beyond ordinary comprehension) new species evolve in vacant niches.

From this backdrop, it is easy to see that the history of humanity follows this pattern. It is also certain that the pattern will continue as long as humanity behaves according to its animal nature.

With the Neocon takeover of US policy, we re-emphasized the grave errors of the Zionists and the British before them. The Zionists held, and still hold, fast to their claim that might alone gave / gives them the right to displace the Palestinians and keep them in "relocation camps." They eventually had to erect a literal Iron Wall to cut into the rate of suicide bombings--the same ages old Feudal mentality in action that drove rulers behind castle walls. And we will end up doing a similar thing in Iraq for similar reasons. We have a protected "Green Zone" in central Baghdad. And for the same reasons--the populace feels humiliated and alienated--by numerous promises not kept and by the steady escalation of daily danger.

This is more or less the way we are headed. "We" is used because John Kerry would have doubled the forces that are now pinned down and bleeding. "More or less" is employed because the American electorate will not stand by for a generation, sending the cream of our youth to face suicide bombers daily. For its part, the electorate of America is not yet enlightened enough or even has the tools yet to reformulate its society and international policy.

Given the above, it is fantasy to believe that under present policies, Iraq will:

    • accept an American style of governance. (The idea of a higher system of law than the Qur'an is still much too foreign an idea for the ruling classes to even countenance.)
    • be able to unify the two Islamic sects and the Kurds. (Tribalism and ethnicity trump nationalism.)
    • will, even with our help, defeat terror in the meantime. (Our mere presence motivates more terrorism, not less, and the terrorists, being viewed as martyrs and saviors, have strong followings.)

Of course there are better ways. Some have been rediscovered in our research; others will surely arise. For example if we:

    • develop and employ dialogue with enemies and friends alike, at all levels from diplomats to citizens, we can begin the process of mutual understanding required before peace can be assured;
    • establish and make available communication systems for all citizens of the world, to enable dialogue, so that people from various cultures can not only find each other but band together in removing the foundations that support terrorism;
    • vividly and honestly depict our society, the good and not so good; emphasizing the meanings of freedom, liberty, rights of women, and opportunities and then behave in those non-defensive ways, we will gain friends instead of create enemies;
    • encourage true separation of Church and State, which will have the effect of preventing any one religion from manipulating the power inherent in the state and trying to force itself on its neighbors or own minorities;
    • develop improved and effective intelligence techniques on the ground. Effective infiltration can happen if operatives can win the trust of societies harboring terrorist (This has actually happened in small pockets in Iraq). Such operatives will be aided immensely if steeped in the local language, culture, history, and religion of the societies in question. Solving terror is a job for local citizens, not imports;
    • discourage the kind of capitalism that creates huge economic gaps in the standards of living within and between societies;
    • encourage educational systems that in turn encourage the youth to think for themselves, which feature will decrease the number irrational and/or radicalizing events;
    • employ tight police work in preference to invasion and take-over when pursuing terrorists. By creating goodwill, we will go far in creating effective intelligence feedback and gaining mutual respect among nations, features never there in the confrontational approach;
    • oppose despotism wherever it is found; isolate such regimes as necessary, using war only as a very last resort with the backing of the UN and the regime's neighbors;
    • encourage moderates in power and their progress toward democracy;
    • continue with our lives, keeping the true dangers of terrorism in perspective--accidents kill scores more people than do terrorists;
    • accept the fact that we cannot be completely safe; even if terror ceased tomorrow, there would be significant dangers in this life;
    • encourage, maybe even challenge, Muslim nations to rein in the jihadi militants;
    • keep in mind our most basic principles--freedom and diversity.

It is easy to see that the tide would turn; it would have to. Alliances against terror as a means to achieve political ends would naturally come into being and in the course of a decade or so reduce terror to the levels of the common asocial criminal elements that police know well how to deal with. A generation is a long time, but it is short compared with the confrontational approach which has been the standard response for millennia.

The foregoing is unlikely to be a total answer, but it would certainly turn the tables, give us time to sort through other possibilities and fix them. Rome was not built in a day; true peace can only come the same way, one brick at a time. Yet this reality is not part of our psyches--because it is not part of our education. Europeans are better equipped to remember the downsides of history; Americans could learn from them.


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