Now for the hard part
In “Now for the Hard
Part,” Walter Russell
Mead discusses the 9/11
American grand strategy
in the fight against terror.
Is the commission correct
to emphasize the larger
war of ideas alongside the
military struggle against
Al Qaeda and other radical
Islamic groups? And do
George Bush and John Kerry
need to present a clearer
and more comprehensive
strategy on these matters?
I don't think President Bush or Kerry will come up with any innovative ideas other then variations of a military struggle. If we desire to undercut the Muslim Brotherhood of which Al Qaeda is one faction it would require bold action. I would provide every individual Iraqi with an oil dividend similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Instead of a yearly payment I would pay them off weekly or bi-weekly. This would vest all Iraqi's in the production and profit of their oil. If oil flow is interrupted by sabotage then their dividend check is interrupted. Obviously, this concept of a natural resource belonging to every citizen runs contrary to American policy so it would be bold. Next, I would issue free computers with free internet access to all Iraqi citizens. Throw in some free libraries and basically, this will accelerate an organic reformation badly needed in this medieval society. Third, I would pressure all our friendly dictators to start sharing their oil profits with their citizens directly with a check thus allowing them to participate in the wealth of their specific country. Oil is not private property because no human created it. It belongs to the commnwealth. The upfront costs of these proposals compared to all the military spending will solidify a more peaceful future.
Ron, Pittsburgh, Pa
The Bush administration has lost all trust and credibility with much of the American population and the global community. In fact, I would even say that a many people around the world and especially in the Middle East and 3rd world countries despise Bush more than they do Osama bin laden!! It's an amazing statement to make but I strongly believe it to be true, Bush has been a disaster. I as an informed American I readily say that I hate Bush more than I do bin laden. First order of business if any progress is going to be made in combating the world problems and terrorism being but one problem, is to get a new administration in power in Washington. Bush must be defeated and new relationships renewed with our allies and so called enemies. Secondly, we need a new energy policy. The US must escape its dependence on Middle East oil. Once again the Bush energy policy would be a disaster for trying to curb all the money flowing into dictatorial regimes in the Middle East. As long these regimes can live off the oil they sell to us and waste billions on weapons they buy from us then there will be little chanc e for social, economic reform. The war on terror is nothing more than a big scare by Bush to get reelected and pour billions in the pockets of corporations that benefit from military, security, oil revenues. The Iraq war was fought for political and oil reasons, not because Saddam was a threat or we wanted to bring democracy to Iraq. That's all a bunch of BS that many stupid Americans have bought into. I can think of no shameful time in my life , except for the Vietnam war, when I have so hated and despised the US government. The real terrorists that Americans and the world have to be concerned about are not Islamic they are Bush and his crimminal cronies operating out of Washington DC.
Ideas are for lazy democrats. Guns are the only way to communicate with these barbaric Arab extremeists. Guns are the only way to win the peace and Bush is right, "you are either with us or against us."
Dan D., Ayer, MA
No one has the guts to point out that all of the proposed cures are far worse than the disease, especially when it comes to "homeland security" measures. Al Qaeda are not so much religious fundamentalists, but megalomaniacal nihilists who use religion to amass power for themselves. Amorphous and ephemeral, you can no more eradicate Islamic terrorists than you can rid the world of mosquitoes. All you can do is contain the damage they do somewhat and limit their numbers through prudent policy. And the damage they do is not that great. Yes, they did catch us with our pants down once, and they killed 3000 people and inflicted some property damage. And they blew up a couple of embassies and damaged a boat, to top off a decade's effort. But it is pound foolish to try to head off this relatively minor damage by restricting individual liberties and freedom at home and making asses of ourselves abroad. Just as the 29,000 annual gun deaths we suffer is the price we pay for the right to bear arms and the 43,000 annual automobile deaths is the price we pay for the privilege to drive, so the much smaller number of Al Qaeda victims is the price we must pay for a free and open society. This isn't a war, and it shouln't even be called a law enforcement action. We are now the world's Orkin Man, and Bush and Kerry should both be honest enough to say so.
Reading Walter Russel Mead's article one gets the feeling that we are discussing a topic that has no history and no connection to the actions of the USA from the recent past. Fortunately, some media organizations have taken a broader approach --- take a look at the NPR series: http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/the_west/ Historians will record that the US chose to have a 50 year alliance with one of the most ugly theocratic regimes in modern history: Saudi Arabia. History will record that starting in 1979, the USA worked with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (ruled of course, by a vicious islamist dictator) to fund and create a modern form of militant islam. The CIA spent billions of dollars funding this effort, foolishly thinking that it would be directed only at the Soviets in Afghanistan. Ultimately the blowback was 9/11. But such is the innocence (or is it just plain ignorance??) of the american public that they are unable to connect any of these dots. I have yet to hear a single public official say: gosh, our policy in the middle-east and south asia has been based on expediency and ultimately a kind of contempt for the people who live there. We really need to rethink the entire matter. As an immigrant american, I am deeply involved in the positive side of the USA. I am far from being a Michael Moore/Arundhati Roy type of person who believes everything wrong emanates from america. At the same time, I have to say that historians will shake their heads with regret when they review US policy in the middle-east and south asia during 1950-2000. They will be astounded by its transparent expediency and lack of principles. My biggest fear is that we now seem to be on track to continue in this fashion of the past well into the 22nd century.
to Vanessa in Cambridge.. sounds exactly like something I would expect out of the mouth of someone living in Red Square. I would imagine you would feel a bit different if it was you lying in that rubble of the WTC; or your brother on the ship; or your dad in one of the American embassies. Or perhaps not and you would blame the US anyways, and not animals out there attacking innocent people. You compare numbers of fatalities from different freedoms that we enjoy as if they're all the same. You can't do that with any amount of accuracy, you are just trying to mislead the less educated people. Most of us will catch you though. You think death from guns would actually decrease if they were outlawed?!! Is that along the same line of thinking that as soon as we ban all firearms, they will disappear and there will be no more death by guns? You're just misinformed and more dumb than I originally thought. Why don't we legalize drugs while we're at it; heroine, crack, pot everything! Noone else will die from it then. Love it or leave it.
The Bush family has a long history of selling out the security of the USA for a tidy profit for their many friends in the oil industry. Over and over again, they have made unscupulous decisions for profit over patriotism. Both the Democrats and Repulicans are up to their necks in big oil money. But the Bush family is by far the most heinous purpo-traitors of of this policy. The USA will never be able to attain a positive image in the Islamic world. We must dis-associate ourselves from all Arab governments that do not hold democracy as the best way to maintain their society. Most of them hate us anyway. We also need to stop buying oil from anyone outside our hemishere. Ultimately, we need to become self sustaining through conservation and finding our own resources. As long as the Kingdom of Saud has a key to the White House, Americans will have a bullseye on our backs.
Peter from Somerville, may be we should send you instead and you can try to "talk" with Al Qaeda. I'm sure they'd love to have a cup of tea with you. Make sure you bring a bowling bag so you have somewhere to put you head for your flight home.
I must take issue with Vanessa from Cambridge who refers to the destruction of the Twin Towers as "some property damage". Those are words used when a storm damages a roof not 9/11. And yes, 3,000 people died...at one time...from coordinated acts of terrorism. That's hardly comparable to accidents caused by firearms. Plus, we live w/the day to day threat that at any moment several more thousand could lose their lives by another act of terrorism. Let's not also forget the impact the attacks had on our economy almost bankrupting the airline industry. Whoever is elected, Kerry or Bush, I hope they take the damage done and the threat by terrorists more than you do.
Chas, Boston, MA
John from Watertown, why don't you tell the victim's families of 9-11 how much more you hate Bush than Bin Laden? You have been living under a rock for the past 3 years. Once again, another liberal is more intent on waiting to respond to another 9-11 than being pro-acitve and disrupting any plots to attack this country. John is more concerned with not upsetting countries such and France and Germany instead of doing whatever it takes to protect the people of this country. John where were you protesting Clinton sending our tropps to Bosnia and Kosovo? You want to believe we can make peace with islamic extremists whose sole purpose is to committ violent attacks against peaceful citizens of our country. Keep turning a blind eye John and Canada is awaiting you with open arms.