Retaliation? Yes, Then What?
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have brought home in stark detail the need for America to rethink its position in the world in general, and its policy toward the Middle East in particular. Let’s be clear: we cannot continue the status quo policy measures that have engendered such hatred of the United States around the world. After accurate, comprehensive, decisive, and sustained retaliation against the acts in New York, and Washington, D.C. is complete, we must– as a nation–take the hard step of asking ourselves a number of questions we probably have ignored for too long--
- Why do so many people around the world hate the U.S.? Is it petty jealously at our success? Or, is it a function of our international policy in much of the world? What is it about the U.S. that has women and children throughout the Middle East–who have suffered through their own experiences with death and destruction–celebrating the atrocious attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Are we as arrogant and exploitative a nation as we are perceived to be?
We are hated around the world. The enmity many hold for the U.S. ranges from the benign we-don’t-like-you-but-love-your-tourist-dollar-and-we’d-rather-have-you-as-a-friend-than-enemy variety in France, Germany and other parts of Europe; to more serious versions within the U.S., and in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; to the deadly variety to permeates the Middle East. Even in Israel, there is a feeling that America can stop being judgmental of the Jewish state now that historic terror has befallen the world’s only superpower.
Much of the hard feelings stem from U.S. policy support for Israel. While that support is justified, we must recognize that it is viewed as taking sides against the Arab world, particularly the Palestinians. While the solution to that part of the problem has been resisted, no one can seriously argue against what appears to be clear: until an independent Palestine is created, the status quo hatred of the U.S. in the Middle East will remain, leaving us a target for future attacks. It’s time to draw the boundaries of a new Palestinian state.
What is obvious from the reaction in the streets of the Middle East is that many believe we have reaped what we sowed. If that is true, then what should we do beyond military action? As we have seen time and again, those that mean us harm have no problem sacrificing their lives for their cause, whatever that may be. Consequently, bombing Afghanistan to hell–as some have suggested–may only strengthen the resolve of those that hate America. Think about it, if they are willing to hijack planes, fly them into buildings, and kill thousands of innocent people, then what is the likelihood that they will be deterred, in the long term, from their mission by short term bombing?
Many commentators and analysts are calling for considerable retaliation. While retaliation against these acts is justified, necessary, and should commence forthwith, we must be mindful that blowing up countries won’t solve the problem. If we continue doing the same things, we will continue getting the same results. It’s time for change in American international policy.
© Michael K. Fauntroy
September 12, 2001