How to Counteract Terrorist Recruiters
President Obama, at the recent White House summit on terrorism, drew criticism for refusing to frame the problem as “Islamic extremism”. He was right to do so, and to affirm the value of a great worldwide Faith, and the value of good Muslims in every country. There is quite enough Islamophobia, and too much hatred directed in that direction already. American politicians judge each other according to how “tough” they are on “Muslim extremists”. It’s a death knell for a politician if he or she is “too cozy with the Muslims”, something right-wingnuts accuse the President of. We don’t refer to violent skinhead racists as Christian extremists, do we? Many of them claim to be Christians. And even though George W. did refer to his wars in the Middle-East as a “crusade”, we don’t refer to our troops as “Christianists” [as in “Islamists”].
He was also criticized for stating the valid point that a lack of economic opportunities in many middle-eastern countries is a factor in this. Young men everywhere, especially when facing their approaching middle-age years, are humiliated and depressed, when they see that they have become failures in the eyes of society, since they are unable to provide for a family, or, in worse cases, can’t even provide for their own needs, and have to scrounge even for their own survival. It becomes very tempting for such a young man, when they are recruited for some terrorist group. They can become part of something that seems important, and become a jihadist, a fighter for something that claims to be a righteous cause. Of course this is a powerful argument. How can anyone doubt that?
But criticizing the President has become an industry nowadays, employing hundreds of prominent talking heads and writers. I remember when Bill O’Reilly and others accused people of being unpatriotic for questioning the policies of George W. Bush, when he was dragging us into multiple quagmires. Bill’s words were, if you don’t agree with him, can’t support our President, then just shut-up!”
But rather than to criticize anyone now, I would like to suggest that there are some good, solid steps that could be taken to help defeat the efforts of groups like ISIS (or ISIL) in their efforts to radicalize young people. Their main talking point is this: “The USA is a wicked nation, unjustly invading other countries, destroying countries, making a mess of them. They do it because they want to dominate the world, to steal our resources, and to subjugate our people.”
So, since that is the ‘sales pitch’ being promoted by the terrorists, it seems to me that the most important thing the USA could do, would be to prove them wrong. But that would require a reversal of American foreign policy, wouldn’t it? Because, unfortunately, as it stands now, they are right.
Now, I don’t plan to join any violent group, nor would I encourage anyone else to do so. I don’t believe it is ever right to resort to violence, except perhaps in self-defense, and even that concept is abused by many to justify violence. However, we know that many people DO believe in taking up arms to fight against American interests, and, unfortunately, we’ve given them lots of reasons to hate us.
Maybe it began in 1953, when the USA ordered a coup d’état against the democratically elected President of Iran. It was done in service of British Petroleum, because President Mosaddegh was tired of being screwed over by them, and decided to nationalize the oil operations of his country. Here’s the reference from Wikipedia:
The 1953 Iranian coup d’état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup, was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom (under the name ‘Operation Boot’) and the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project).
Mosaddegh was jailed, and our hand-picked puppet, the Shah, replaced him. These actions eventually had their result in the Iranian revolution. You may remember the taking of American hostages from the U.S. embassy in 1979. You see, unfortunately, our reckless actions eventually have tragic results.
We have backed despotic dictatorships in the Middle East (and still do), such as the Shah of Iran, and have actually enabled Israel to destabilize the whole area, with our generous financial largess, and our political backing. The Libya experiment has turned that nation into a failed state, and will be a breeding ground for terrorism for decades to come. And when one looks at the terrible state of Iraq and Afghanistan, how could anyone deny that the USA has brutally ruined these countries. Our own policies helped to create ISIS. They are using stolen American weaponry right now.
Here is a link to an article by Signs of The Times that purports that the U.S. is responsible, directly or indirectly, for 30 to 40 million deaths since World War 2. I cannot guarantee the complete veracity of their numbers, but it is an impressive list of undeniable historical events, actions of our military, and of our government.
Americans need to admit that nothing can protect our country from terrorist attacks, especially if we keep creating more jihadists every day with our violent, lawless policies. The people of Yemen and Pakistan live in real terror of being killed by a U.S. drone, as hundreds of them hover overhead at all times of the day and night. Thousands of civilians have been killed. These facts are well known. Our official definition of a “terrorist suspect” in these areas is “any male of fighting age”. So, our obedient news outlets repeat the lie, covering up the fact that we don’t know who the hell we are killing, reporting it as “x number of terrorist suspects were killed”.
This vast nation, the USA, has thousands of miles of borders and shorelines, which are impossible to seal off. We have thousands of miles of unprotected railroad lines, electric lines, gas and oil pipelines. A militaristic Homeland Security can not truly provide us with safety from terrorist sabotage. We have only been lucky in recent years.
The only real way to solve this worldwide problem is to simply STOP BEING EVIL. We must stop making more and more enemies. When the twin towers attack first took place, we should have asked the question, “Why?” but no, we were told why: “It’s because they hate us for our freedom and our democracy.” Then those who had been looking for an excuse to attack the Middle East were turned loose, in a bid to control the oil resources of that area. We were fed faux patriotic, jingoistic nonsense, to make our population believe that we could attack and kill enough people to protect us all from terrorist attacks. This was, and is a LIE.
Why was there never a conversation in this country about how we could alter our foreign policy to stop pissing people off all over the world? That should have been the first step, the second step being to actually communicate with these people whom we had made to be our enemies, and to find ways of compromising, ways of ameliorating the problems that our government had been causing for decades! But this wouldn’t satisfy the machismo militaristic instincts of the primitive fools, the warmongers among us. This wouldn’t feed the military-industrial complex.
Did you notice the clothing worn by the recent victims of ISIS beheadings and immoliation? ORANGE JUMPSUITS. Why? To remind the world of Guantanamo Bay prison, in Cuba, and also of the torture camps like Abu Grahib. The biggest thing we could do, as a nation, to protect our citizens from terrorism, and to defeat their recruiters, would be to close down Guantanamo. Try them in a court, and either punish the guilty, or free them. This damnable monstrosity in Cuba has been a marvel to the whole world. A place where people can be captured, and kept indefinitely, giving them no trial, no rights whatsoever, in contravention of every international agreement that the U.S. has signed in regard to prisoners of war.
Additionally, the USA should admit to our mistakes, to our war-crimes (punishing those involved, by the way), and even consider making reparations, where necessary. For the trillions spent on these Middle-East wars in the past decade, we could have actually written a check to every man, woman, and child in Afghanistan and in Iraq, for thousands of dollars each. They could have been our biggest supporters and comrades. They would have handed Saddam’s head over to the U. S. authorities, without any invasion at all.
Finally, here are some comments from Marwan Bishara, the chief commentator at Al Jazeera. They are so apropos, I felt I should include them. He speaks of some things that President Obama failed to mention, in his speech about the radicalization of the Muslim world.
Marwan Bishara: And yet, the president neglected to mention the most important of all reasons for the present radicalization in the Muslim world.
Obama said nothing about how proxy and other western wars have created the fertile grounds for the type of extremism that has been evolving and spreading in the Arab and Muslim world.
How the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan coupled with US/Saudi intervention on the side of the mujahideen led to the creation of al-Qaeda.
Or, how the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, coupled with Iran’s interference, prepared the ground for the creation and expansion of ISIL.
My summary: Why can’t the people and politicians, the leaders of the USA, simply ask ourselves, “What would a truly GOOD country do?”, and then apply that to every situation we are facing. This would be a 180 degree turnaround from acting like a triumphalist empire, bent on making our influence be felt in every corner of the globe, a worldwide police force sent to do the bidding of our multinational corporations, in the name of the one percent elite of America. And stop riding rough-shod over entire populations, disregarding everything but American interests.