How to Fight Islamic Terrorism

Posted: February 2, 2015 in Christianity, Islam, Livin' in the USA, Politics, Religion
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by Chaz Bufe, publisher See Sharp Press

If you want to solve a problem, you need to understand it, you need to strip away illusions about it. There are illusions aplenty regarding Islamic terrorism on both the American right and left. One illusion is that terrorism is a specifically Islamic phenomenon. It isn’t. Christian terrorism has a long and arguably bloodier history (pogroms, witch hunts, the Inquisition, etc.). It diminished over the centuries, though it still exists (Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa, anti-choice bombers and murderers in the U.S.).

But the worst present-day instances of religious terrorism are Islamist in nature. So, how do we fight such terrorism?

First, remove, or at least diminish, U.S. actions that inspire Islamic terrorism. One of the first such actions should be to stop supporting unpopular, dictatorial governments in the Middle East. The most obvious examples are the regimes in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. U.S. Support of such regimes has been a constant irritant to the peoples of the region for decades. A minimal first step in the cases of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia would be to stop selling them arms. In the case of Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. aid, the U.S. could cut off that aid.

Also note that the primary financers of Islamic terrorism reside in the Arabian peninsula and derive their wealth from oil. As an example, rich Saudis provided the early funding for ISIS, and still provide significant support for it. A medium- and long-term way to diminish the ability of Mideast oil magnates to fund terrorism is to develop renewable energy sources in the U.S., and thus reduce the demand and price for oil.  (Shale oil is not a good alternative. It’s expensive to produce, environmentally destructive [poisoning of ground water, creation of earthquakes], and it’s unsustainable–shale field production tails off more rapidly than that of traditional oil fields.)

Beyond that, the U.S. needs to recognize that its support of the in-power Israeli extreme right is also a significant contributor to Islamic terrorism. The U.S. right and the center-right (that is, Democrats) are entirely unwilling to see that many of Israel’s actions amount to crimes against humanity. To cite but the most recent example, in last year’s Gaza massacre over 500 Palestinian children were killed and over a thousand maimed for life by Israeli bombs and shells, compared with one Israeli child killed by a Hamas rocket. As well, the Israelis bombarded Palestinian civilians without allowing them to flee the massacre (“war”) zone–a clear crime against humanity. Gaza was already the world’s largest open air prison; last summer, the Israelis turned it into a shooting gallery with human targets.

Then remember that the Israeli state has routinely mistreated Palestinian civilians for two-thirds of a century. To cite only two incontrovertible examples, the Israelis routinely engage in collective punishment. They routinely bulldoze the homes of Palestinian suspects–not those convicted of anything, just those suspected of anti-Israeli acts–which not only destroys the homes of those suspects, but also the homes of their families. Add to that that the Israeli state routinely denies or destroys Palestinians’ means of livelihood, through such things as bulldozing of orchards, seizure of water rights, and lockdowns of Palestinian areas, which denies many Palestinian workers the right to travel to their workplaces. Such injustices have been a constant irritant to not only Palestinians, but to their neighbors for decades.

The first step in a solution to this is obvious: the U.S. needs to pressure Israel into accepting a two-state solution. That would mean that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders and hand over all settlements on the West Bank to the Palestinians. One way the U.S. could pressure Israel into doing this would be to stop vetoing resolutions in the UN Security Council condemning and sanctioning Israel for its crimes. A second would be to cut off arms shipments to Israel. A third would be to cut off U.S. aid to Israel, the largest recipient of such aid.

Assuming this would eventually result in a two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state, the U.S. could then provide development aid for the Palestinians. This alone would significantly reduce the impetus for Islamic terrorism.

Still another way to fight such terrorism would be for the U.S. to immediately cease drone strikes in the Islamic world. These strikes kill some terrorists, but they also kill civilians. If you doubt that halting drone attacks would lessen motivation for anti-American terrorism, ask yourself this: If a foreign country were using drones to kill its enemies on American soil, how would you feel about it? How would you feel if those drones were killing American civilians in the United States? How would you feel if one of those drones killed members of your family? Would it make any difference that their deaths were “inadvertent,” that your loved ones were “collateral damage”? Would you meekly accept it, or would you be angry about it? Would you want revenge any way you could take it?

One more way to fight terrorism would be to close Gitmo. It’s a constant reminder that the U.S. government engaged in torture. It’s a constant reminder that the U.S. government abrogates the most basic of human rights, the right to habeas corpus–the right of individuals to be free of imprisonment unless charged with a crime. It’s a constant reminder of the U.S. government’s hypocrisy. (And it’s more than a bit ironic that those pundits and politicians who bleat loudest about freedom in the abstract are desperate to preserve this insult to it, this concrete denial of it.)

Finally, getting back to Christian terrorism, why did it diminish? Europe had the scientific revolution and the questioning attitude and respect for logic and rationality that came with it. As a result, over time, such concepts as witchcraft, heresy, and blasphemy grew increasingly unsustainable, and the vicious actions of Christian believers diminished correspondingly. In contrast, the Islamic world never had a scientific revolution and the Enlightenment that came with it. This explains, at least in part, why Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are more vicious today than Christian fundamentalism and terrorism.

The lesson is that the U.S. and Western world should provide material support for secular education in the Islamic world, especially to education for those systematically denied it (read girls and women). The more educated people are, the more nonreligious they tend to be.

Would all of these measures mean a quick end to Islamic terrorism? No, but they would almost certainly reduce it over time.

Continuation of present policies will only make things worse: in the Mideast, ongoing, perhaps increasing, terrorism, and at home, ever-growing fear and hysteria, further erosion of civil liberties, and a further increase in the powers of the authoritarian surveillance state.

 

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