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U.S. Foreign Policy and Terrorism

Aug 18, 2007
Commentators often speak of hate of the U.S. as though it were a passing fad, a media creation engendered by the deliberate sensationalism of a few. The truth is that often our actions seem to connect the invisible dots of seemingly disparate points into a line drawn in the figurative sand which we then dare others to cross.

The laws we pass and policies we follow have ramification beyond our own borders, and it is important to understand that adopting an us vs. them mentality may help foster a strong sense of patriotism and pride.

What does this have to do with terrorism? A great, unfortunately. In the past three years, ideal global support for the U.S. led war on terror, has steadily declined. Global opposition to the war on Iraq.

Much of what drives the deepening resentment around the world is the common perception that the United States determines its foreign policy with complete disregard for other countries national interests.

Whether its true or not, even our Western allies apparently consider the U.S. a self-serving actor.

Growing evidence shows that U.S. foreign policies influence and military bases in other countries have fueled the terrorist fervor of religious extremist groups, particularly the Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Al Qaeda.

Terrorism is a scourge that has no place in the civilized world, and rightly should be repudiated and eradicated wherever it take form. The question is how to remain true to our nation ideals of democracy.

Terrorism is nothing new, and certainly U.S. policies do not cause terrorism in the strictest sense of the word.

There have been centuries of people whose ideologies enable them to justify to themselves the most heinous of acts against complete strangers,like Al Qaeda.

Fighting against terrorism is made all the more difficult by the fact that there is no simple answer to the glaring question. The search for root causes is apparently futile, because there are many factors that contribute to the root causes of terrorism.

The frightening realization that the average terrorist is, in almost every war, as normal as your next-door neighbor sane, sober and increasingly sophisticated makes counterterrorism a formidable task.

Occasionally a theory will emerge that the media cause terrorism, purely because terrorism thrives on the coverage. Since terrorism feeds on publicity, the increasing vivid and on the spot media coverage of attacks further fans the flames.

However, increasingly media-savvy terrorist have learned how they can leverage media coverage of their mayhem into recruitment campaigns.

The tendency of people, including the media, to rally round the flag can mask the complete truth about important issues, with television, newspaper and radio journalists too often abandoning their watchdog roles to avid accusations of being unpatriotic.

A common misperception is that the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups hate the West for its freedoms. Take a look at how some of those freedoms are faring in wake of September 11 attacks on American soil, like theUSA-Patriot Act.

In times of threat or upheaval, the U.S. Congress has reacted by passing legislation that restricts the civil liberties of all Americans in a misguided attempt to the curtail the suspect activities of a few. Historically the U.S. Supreme Court system has overturned these reactionary abridements.
About the Author
Leon Newton is Professor of Political Science and teach terrorism and International Relations. He is the author of the book, Terrorism 101 A Library Reference And Selected Annotated Bibliography. http://outskirtspress.com/terrorism101
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