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The War Option

It is not our instinct on this site to kill people. Neither is it our instinct to fight terror by starting a wholesale war against another nation without public evidence that it is necessary. Finally, it is not our instinct to go it alone in these matters.

See Nuclear Terror and Nuclear Solutions for commentary on the single gravest issue before humanity today. Nowhere does governance seem up to the task of insuring the future of humanity. See also Solutions and Hope for a broader and more hopeful view. To start a war with Iraq before the United Nations even completed its investigations only enlarged the total number of enemies we face in this world. There is no compelling evidence that Iraq was a danger to world peace or that it exported terror.

All this was known to our allies who saw the issue differently than did Mr. Bush. We do too. Taking out Iraq is merely a Band-Aid where major surgery is needed. Surgery, not by armies, but by diplomats with the courage to stay the course and use international and police options to find and eradicate threats by appropriate means. Methods used by the British in eliminating the Thugs from India provide preliminary guidance.

War with Iraq did not address the cure for terrorism nor did it disable any beyond the Baathists (and there is question about that); more than 50 terror groups are known to exist!

Are there fewer terror groups now than before Iraq?

Of course not?

What might have justified war on Iraq?

  • To eliminate a state supporting terror: Possibly. This was a stated reason for both Afghanistan and Iraq. I There was no credible evidence of this in Iraq and there still is none. With this update, Nov 2005, it appears that Iraq is fast becoming a base and training-ground for torrorists.
  • To eliminate a regime brandishing weapons of mass destruction: Possibly. If that were true, a regime change would be justified as it was in Afghanistan. There was no evidence of this in Iraq and there still is none.
  • To ensure access to oil: Not a chance. And that would be pure aggression and imperialism, however Mr. Bush clothed his actions in soothing words. His America-First attitude leads many to believe oil was his primary motive. The world of Islam thinks so, and that is a reality we have to deal with.
  • To found a democratic state in the heart of Islam. There are pros and cons here if women are included in the calculations. But since the Trojan War, how many states have gone to war over a woman? At this update, the Shiites and Kurds are insisting the new constitution reflect their numerical dominance. What of the Sunnis? Must terror be their last resort? And women have lost ground since the invasion; they stand to lose more under Islamic governance.
  • To settle a grudge. Not a chance. After all Bush I left Hussein in power and Bush II has publicly stated that this is one of his motives. Spoken like a true Authoritarian. Pure emotions rule.
  • To punish Hussein for genocide against both the Kurds and the Shias. Some logic here. This was hardly mentioned; because to do so would involve explaining why genocide in Africa today still goes unpunished. In our minds could be a reasonable basis for forcing regime change, if done evenhandedly everywhere for the express and only purpose of removing despots and building nations.

Better Options

Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 9 December 2002, suggests some effective means. He makes many good points. First we quote or paraphrase the dangers he foresees:

  • Soft targets, such as resort hotels, provide essentially inexhaustible opportunities for acts of terror until each is guarded to the extent military bases are.
  • Surface-to-air missiles make virtually every airport takeoff and approach vulnerable. Surface-to-air missiles go for as little as $2,000 each in Somalia today.
  • Bombs triggered by suicide bombers can explode anywhere that individuals are allowed to move without a body and equipment search. Ten bombs on four trains all at once--Madrid, Spain, for example.

All three of these have become established means, but none were used until relatively recently. That shift came with a shift in terror mentality--from a classical nationalistic struggle to a messianic-religious one.

Terrorists Today Have an Inexhaustible Supply of Soft Targets.

As bleak as that may look, Zakaria suggests ways to combat this trend. So does Ashutosh Varshney.

International Cooperation

In the poorest Third World countries this means nation building and lots of it. Public safety in many such places is a century behind. Networking equipment, fax machines, and computers are more often than not unavailable even to the police. It is in places like this that al Qa'ida lurks. Northern Pakistan, southern Afghanistan, Indonesia, Yemen, and Somalia are high profile examples.

The poorest of the Third-World countries need to brought forward into the 21st Century in the process.

Entrepreneurship of the highest order is needed on the ground in the Third-World countries.

Smoking Them Out Through Coordinated Police Work.

Terrorists emerge each time they pull off an action. Each time we learn more, we can implicate others to be tracked down. This takes dogged police work, the kind developed countries are experts in, the kind Spain and Great Britain excercised when their transport systems were attacked, and especially the kind Great Britain used to eliminate the Thugs from India in the 19th Century.

Edward Luttwak, a military strategist points out that terrorism produces national cohesion in target countries:

"You get the kind of resolve [in countries hosting terrorists] and willingness to fight that you would not get without a war with its mass casualties. You get the unifying effects of war with relatively modest casualties."

Although there is more international cooperation on the terror issue today than there was just a few years ago, there would have been still more without the Bush strategy of alienating allies and withholding evidence from others who happen to capture terrorists.


It is vital to realize that we cannot deter those who are ready to die anyway. We must look into why there is such a suicidal motivation in the world today and fix that. There are at least two causes in the Middle East: Fundamentalism and the relative poverty and second class citizenship it brings to Islam today. Each Humiliates and Alienates.

We copy here a section from Muslim Mind:

Ralph Peters in his book Beyond Terror comes to the unhappy conclusion that there is no option to killing religious terrorists on the spot whenever it is legal to do so, p 61. Peters describes the Muslim civilization as delusional, p 54. He continues:

"We may believe with great satisfaction that we have truth on our side, but myth is on their side, and myth can be more powerful than truth. Some noble or hapless souls may sacrifice their lives in service to the truth. But millions will rush to die for a cherished myth."

Taking out Iraq did not change this equation. Only pressure on the Mullahs and economic assistance to honest secular leaders will do that. Trouble is, there are many despots in the way; centuries of Islamic governance are a huge historic barrier to surmount; Authoritarians reside on both sides of the cultural divide.

To be sure Hussein was a despot, but there is no public information that ties him to terrorism in the ways true of Afghanistan, and to degrees that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern Nations are.

Islamic Ideology

Pressure on the Mullahs and economic assistance to non-despotic secular leaders will begin addressing the ideological origins of terror. How effectively we accomplish this may well determine the fate of humankind.

General Musharraf has made a start, how seriously remains to be seen. He is requiring Madrassas (religious schools, about the only kind there are in Pakistan) to obtain state licenses to operate and require teaching of secular courses. Madrassas are then monitored for compliance. But reports indicate Musharraf is not following up in the hinterlands.

But as it turns out, General Musharraf also has been playing the Jeckle and Hyde game all along. He, not Hussein, was actively selling nuclear material and information to the world nuclear black market. Musharraf's nuclear chief put it all together, off-the-shelf from corporate suppliers the world over. Musharraf kept his chief in place after the story broke. He himself suffered no consequences of note as of 13 Mar 2004.

At the least, Musharraf duped the Administration.

Nevertheless, each of these would/is addressing a root of terror.

The American society is making a positive change at the grass roots. US universities have added Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, including language, to their curricula to good effect. We must know the cultures spawned by Islam to have any hope for lasting peace.


All this is aside from North Korea. There is evidence that Pakistan tested a plutonium device that could only have come from (belonged to?) North Korea. Pakistan's own nukes are Uranium.

China is a primary key in North Korea. We absolutely must work with and through China to move forward effectively. Kim Jung Il has repeatedly been described as a gambler. He exports missiles and has demonstrated a ballistic missile capability. At the same time Kim is described as admiring Western movies, French Wines, and of course the technology he is exploiting. Ordinary means to defeat his purposes will fail without China's consent and cooperation. China has the same self-interest in this matter that the rest of the world has. With their new leadership, humankind should be able to move forward.

See Nuclear Terror for the single gravest issue before humanity today.

The Individual Option

Education everywhere is the key; it has to start early and stay on track. People who are compassionate and think for themselves are not violent people. People who are life-long learners can shift with, or control their times, in ways others cannot. Those who read nature and enjoy it with respect will find satisfactions elusive to those who disregard nature's will.

Of course the family is most important to this endeavor, but schools and society are important too. Guidance in all three can be found in third-world cultures -- as strange as that may seem. The Industrial Revolution has not been kind to family life. Why is it that the janitor is often more trustworthy than the CEO? We do not have all the answers. There is ample room for yours at trhe bottom of this page.

Bringing about those conditions is the challenge of this century. Some cultures succeed better than others, of course. Those that do are models for those that don't.

See: Internal and External Locus of Control.

See also Solutions and Hope for a broader, more hopeful view.


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