Long before the attacks on New York and Washington, The Future of Freedom Foundation repeatedly warned that the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy resented significant risks to the American people. See, for example, “Terrorism or War”(June 2000) by Jacob G. Hornberger, “Breeding Terrorism” (December 1999) by Sheldon Richman, and “Terrorism, Anti-Terrorism, and American Foreign Policy” (November 1996) by Richard M. Ebeling, all of which are posted on our website: www.fff.org.
By intervening and taking sides in international disputes in different parts of the world for decades, our government has been making enemies of many of those it deemed to be in the wrong. Those enemies, we have continually maintained, were not likely to passively accept the judgment of the international policeman indefinitely and would, at some point, retaliate against the American people though acts of terrorism, even here on American soil.
Why is this important now? Because the American people need to understand that their president’s new war on terrorism could actually make the situation worse for them than it is now. Thus, every American needs to ask himself a critical question: Is the continuation of an interventionist foreign policy worth it?
Worse? How could the situation get worse? Aren’t government officials fortifying airports and securing passenger planes?
Here’s how: Crowded shopping malls and movie theaters. Football, baseball, and basketball games. Concert halls. Amusement parks. Can the world’s sole remaining superpower protect us from suicide attackers everywhere in the country? Don’t count on it. And even if it could, is that the way Americans wish to live for the foreseeable future?
“But nothing, not even an interventionist U.S foreign policy, justifies terrorist acts against Americans.” Agreed. But that’s not really the point. The point is that the terrorists believe that their actions are justified and will continue them as long as that “justification” exists. That’s why it’s important to figure out what the true “justification” for the terrorism is and then decide whether it’s worth it for the United States to continue its policies even while trying to bring the malefactors to justice.
President Bush says that the attacks in New York and Washington were motivated by hatred for Western values, such as freedom and democracy. The president’s reasoning, of course, avoids any focus on American foreign policy. If an American decides that the president is right, it would be entirely logical for him to conclude, “I’m not about to give up my belief in freedom and democracy. I’m supporting the president’s war on terrorism.”
But what if the president is mistaken? What if the terrorists are motivated by other factors, such as our government’s role as international policeman, judge, and executioner? In that case, each of us must now decide whether such a role is worth the threat of more terrorist attacks here at home, the diminution of civil liberties at the hands of our own government, and of course the taxes needed to pay for an enormous international military force.
In making this determination, it is important that we listen not only to our own government officials but also to how the terrorists themselves claim to justify their fanatical behavior.
Osama bin Laden and his supporters have provided three primary reasons for their holy war against the American people: (1) the 10-year occupation of Islamic holy lands in Saudi Arabia by U.S. troops; (2) the U.S. government’s continuing 10-year war against Iraq, including bombs, missiles, and embargo, which has caused the death of a multitude of Iraqi people, including children and other civilians; and (3) our government’s taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
If the U.S. government’s interventionist policy in the Middle East is in fact the primary reason that terrorism is being waged against the American people, an American might still conclude that it’s important to continue the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy and that the risks are worth it. But at least he’ll know what he’s actually fighting for and possibly dying for.