Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.
If we'd listened to Mr. Jefferson, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in. But we didn't, so here we are. The purpose of this essay is to explore how we got to this point and try to figure out what we should do to help assure our safety.
First, a breif history lesson. The U.S. got into WWI and that changed the outcome. Instead of a virtual tie, Germany was beaten badly and punished severely, which caused resentment to fester and set the groundwork for Hitler's rise and WWII.
WWII led to the Cold War, which caused the U.S. to cozy up to oppressive dictators as long as they'd help us against the Soviets, which is one cause for the Third World being pissed off at us: We preached "freedom and democracy" at home and supported oppression abroad. If you follow the link below about the history of modern jihad, you'll see how some people think Hitler's rise had a direct influence on the current conflict between militant Islam and the West. Others see it going back even further.
The problem is, if we abruptly adopt Jefferson's ideal foreign policy now, it will be seen as weakness, and weakness invites attack. I'm not sure if we just pull out of the Middle East and stop interfering in other nations' affairs, that that will satisfy the fanatics, it may embolden them.
Some say that Osama and his Al Qaeda cohorts hate us because of our freedom, but as Alfred A. Hambidge, Jr. eloquently points out here, that argument does not hold much water, though they may hate us for exporting our secular ways and for trying to be the world-wide police force.
In addition to hating us for our interventionism and our expedient support of oppressive dictators, I've come across some new insights into the history behind the modern Jihad. The people who run this site may be right, without Mr. Hambidge being wrong. We could be hated for a number of reasons, justified or not.
It's been pointed out that most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi, as is Osama bin Laden, yet we are fighting in Iraq. This is behind the whole "blood for oil" mantra. What they fail to realize is that if we wanted Iraqi oil so badly, all we had to do is lift the embargo. Even if the U.S. bought no Iraqi oil, its presence on the world market would have driven oil prices down- that's what increased supply does. Of course, that would not help the neo-cons build their empire.
We may not be as free in this country as we should be, but we are freer than the countries that produced the 9-11 terrorists. Some say that their jihad is about economic justice, but most of the 9-11 hijackers were from upper middle class families. They were educated and had comfortable lives. Osama bin Laden is from a very wealthy family. People who are economically comfortable don't usually put their lives on the line, (or commit suicide), to help the less fortunate. They donate to charity, protest, and organize events to gain sympathy for their cause. They don't fly planes into buildings, unless there's something else going on, like "religion." I use the term loosely.
I'm not sure that Wahhabism is a religion. It seems more like a cult. It is this perception that causes me to think that the theory about modern jihad starting with Amin Al-Husseini may be correct.
If that theory is correct, we have a problem on our hands that's bigger than Osama bin Laden.
When Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf", he was dismissed as a hothead. People did not think he was serious about what he wrote in his book. Then he got elected and set about making his genocidal ideas a reality.
Osama has stated that his goals are to:
1) Establish a Taliban-like theocracy in Saudi Arabia, either by toppling the Saudi rulers or converting them.
2) Oust the U.S. military from their bases in the Muslim Holy Land.
3) Topple all secular governments in Muslim countries and also replace them with Taliban-like governments.
4) Unite these muslim nations into one Pan-Arabic caliphate.
For more info on Osama and his friends click here. Donald Sensing seems to have done his homework on the subject.
The thing about guys like Hitler and Bin Laden, (unlike your average politician), is they tend to tell the truth about what they want. Some people can't believe they're serious and dismiss them as crackpots. Then all of a sudden, there are gas chambers in operation or planes are flying into buildings.
P.J. O'Rourke said, "There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself." Unfortunately, we're not dealing with a free society. We can play by those rules if we want, but don't expect militant islamists to do so.
There are a couple of factors at play here*. One is the assumption that other people will think the way we do. On an individual basis, some people are raised in emotionally healthy environments, others as raised in brutal homes. As a result, they act differntly. It works in a similar way when it comes to nations.
We should not expect militant islamists to keep their word- they're not like us because they were not raised like us. We have reasonably free media in the U.S.- CNN, Fox, The New York Times, The Nation, Reason Magazine- the spectrum of view points is pretty wide. It's not that way in many other parts of the world. Governments control the media and stifle speech. Often the U.S. and our allies are blamed for the poverty and oppression. The schools teach government-sponsored hate of the West, if for no other reason than to divert the discontent of the people away from the government.
The other assumption we Libertarians often make is that we assume that everyone has "free will." We don't seem to realize that when people are born into a society where there is no free marketplace of ideas, where there is only one world-view presented, free will is an illusion at best. Add to that the fact that some people are given "special treatment" to recruit and program them as jihadis and suicide bombers- this does not yeild a rational group you can reason with.
Libertarian ideals are great and should be promoted all over the world. In a free marketplace of ideas I think most people would choose individual liberty, but the terror-spawning regions of the world do not have a free market of ideas. Their media is controlled and loaded with misinformation. In democracies we have many sources of information and can compare and contrast the various messages. We can question the government and religious dogma and not get killed for it. In many non-democracies, you'd get killed or jailed for doing so. People can't choose a system they have no knowledge of. If they have knowledge of it, they will not choose it if that choice gets them killed.
Gandhi tactics only work against civilized opponents. They would not work against Hitler and they won't work against Al Qaeda. Even Gandhi knew there was a time to fight. He wrote: "Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest," in Gandhi, An Autobiography, page 446. You don't need arms if you never intend to fight.
I don't look forward to the U.S. trying to shove democracy and "American Values" down the throat of the Muslim world. I'm not sure it'll work. But we at least have to track down and eliminate those who planned and supported the 9-11 attacks and those who would carry out future attacks.
Even if we cease to intervene in the world outside our borders, I don't think it will stop militant Islamists from attacking us. Rather than direct intervention, we need to foster native democracy movements, especially secular ones that value free markets, rather than relying on the U.S. occupation of foreign countries. Prosperity in the absence of fanatical religious belief leads to peace.
* Two books that have added to my understanding of the human mind, religion and violence:
The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker, and The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker.
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