Friday, February 11, 2011

Have you Heard? The Cold war is Over.

Our foreign policy has followed a very simple principle: the enemies of our enemies are our friends. Osama bin Laden is a horrible example of that. We set him up as a military leader when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now he is our enemy number one and we are helping anybody who is promising to help us fight terrorism.
But fighting terrorism is very different from fighting hostile governments. It may have made some sense to give weapons to all kinds of countries who were opposing communist overtures. But today we are following the same rule in the so-called “war on terrorism.” And what happens? We give weapons and billions of dollars in aid to all kinds of authoritarian, dictatorial police states. We keep replenishing our stable of petty tyrants supported by secret police and torture.

But this posture is bound to strengthen terrorism. The terrorism we are fighting is not organized by governments but by more or less anonymous people, some of them religious leaders. All of them recruit their troops from the young, the disenfranchised, often the economically suffering. These people see the US government talking big as the champion of freedom and democracy and supporting a whole string of violent authoritarian regimes who prey on their subjects and use police and torture to suppress uprisings. That's enough to make anyone want to support terrorist attacks.

The first principle of the “war on terrorism” must be that we practice what we preach. We must withdraw support from any country that does not protect individual liberties, that does not keep a tight rein on its rogue police, that does not try to establish a functioning court system to protect citizens against the government. Anything short of that will show us as the hypocrites we--unfortunately--are and will gain supporters for terrorism.

The State Department and our foreign policy experts must wake up. The cold war is really over even if folks like Dick Cheney and his friends still do not believe that. As the current uprisings in the Middle East and the continued terrorist attempts show, ordinary people are becoming restless. Since we have consistently taken the side of their oppressors, we too have become targets of the anger. That anger express this in itself in a variety of forms. One of those is terrorism.

When terrorists target us we cannot claim to be innocent.