The latest terrorist plot involving airplanes flying from London to the U.S. provides clear evidence that the threat from terrorism is growing. Since our invasion of Iraq, we have seen an appalling rise in terrorist attacks around the world. The sad fact is that the so-called “war on terrorism” is failing and that terrorism is spreading like a cancer and posing more and more danger for us.
The truth is that none of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us from these threats. No missile defense system, no matter how sophisticated, no matter how many trillions of dollars are poured into it, can protect us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a ship or a suitcase.
Not one weapon in our vast arsenal, not a penny of the $450 billion a year we spend on so-called defense can defend against a terrorist bomb. That is a military fact.
If military force cannot defend us from terrorism, the obvious question is, "Then what can we do?" Is there nothing we can do to provide security for our people?"
There is. But to understand how requires that we know the truth about the threat. President Bush has said that we are a target for terrorists because we stand for democracy and freedom in the world. Nonsense!
We are the target of terrorists because, in much of the world, our government stands for military power used in the service of corporate power. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government has done hateful things. This is a basic truth that Americans must understand, like it or not.
In how many countries have agents of our government deposed popularly elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were willing to sell out their own people to American multinational corporations?
In country after country, from Vietnam to Iraq, our government has used military force to try to impose its will on people. When people around the world compare our actions to our noble words about freedom and justice for all, they react with disappointment, disillusionment, and anger. And that's why we're the target of terrorists
We are not hated because we enjoy democracy and freedom.
We are hated because our government supports regimes that deny these very things to people in countries whose resources are coveted by our multi-national corporations. We are hated because we are seen as the world's military bully and the hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism.
Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution becomes obvious. We must change our ways. The root of terrorism is despair and hopelessness. If the U.S. became the biggest supplier of hope in the world instead of the world's biggest arms supplier, the wellsprings of terrorism would soon dry up and disappear. Instead of selling death, our nation could become the biggest provider of life in the world.
Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill and be killed, we should be helping poorer nations to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, feed starving people and provide medicine and health care. Just imagine what we could do for the world if we cut our military budget in half and used those hundreds of billions of dollars for humanitarian work that would give people real hope for their future.
In short, we should do good instead of evil. If we replaced smart bombs with smart policies designed to help people, who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? The truth is that if we want to stop terrorism, we must work to stop our government from pursuing policies that create the conditions for the growth of terrorism.
Joe Parko is a retired college professor and a long-time peace activist. He is a founding member of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. He can reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.