The same kinds of comparisons have been used before. When Bill Clinton wanted to bomb Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, he compared both leaders to Hitler. In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush also used the same comparison. Yet, the small countries of Serbia and Iraq, as well as the rag-tag group al-Qaeda, have nowhere near the resources of a Nazi Germany and have not tried to completely overrun an important and wealthy continent.
Chertoffs overheated rhetoric doesnt stop there. He adds yet another implicit comparisonto communism. He opined, Todays extreme Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda do not merely seek political revolution in their own countries. They aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike. Here the implicit comparison is to the universal communist movement, which tried to spread its revolution around the world.
Although Osama bin Laden does try to kill both soldiers and civiliansand is justifiably deemed a vicious terroristhis real objective is not to dominate all countries by fomenting an Islamist revolution. If bin Laden had this as a genuine goal, it would be laughable to think that he could get any significant public support in Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu countries for a revolution to convert them to draconian Islamic rule. In fact, his officially stated goal of recreating a caliphate that would put all of the diverse Islamic countries under one ruler is preposterous enough on its own. Even Chertoff admits that the Islamist extremists intent is grandiose. Should bin Laden ever create such a caliphate, it would not have the economic or military power of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Chertoff himself acknowledges that his own comparison is weak: To be sure, as Brzezinski observes, the geographic reach of this network does not put them [sic] in the same group as the Nazis or Stalinists when they achieved first-class military power.
Despite bin Ladens inflated rhetoric, his real aimswhich are also supported by many mainstream Muslimsare to remove a non-Muslim military presence from Islamic lands and compel the United States to stop supporting what bin Laden sees as corrupt regimes in the Middle East. Most mainstream Muslims, however, reject bin Ladens despicable means of targeting civilians to achieve his goals.
Non-Muslim intervention in and occupation of Muslim lands has driven Islamist violence in Chechnya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan (during both the Soviet and current U.S. occupations), and Lebanon (during Israeli invasions and the U.S. nation-building mission during the Reagan administration). The U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf initially motivated bin Laden to strike U.S. targets, eventually resulting in the horror of 9/11.
The 9/11 attacks were treacherous acts of terrorism, but Chertoff and the Bush administration, the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and the American media act as if they were the beginning of history. Only in religion and quantum physics are there events without cause. Most Americans are unaware of their governments history of unnecessary and profligate meddling in the affairs of countries throughout the Middle East. For their own safety and security, Americans cannot continue to ignore that the Islamist venom resulting in 9/11 was rooted in this U.S. interventionist and quasi-imperial foreign policy.
Instead of perpetuating the myth that the United States is at war with fanatics who have a reflexive hatred of America, the nations homeland security chief could better spend his time examining the real motivator for such terrorismU.S. foreign policyand recommending a policy of military restraint in the Middle East to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks at home. If there is any doubt that this strategy would work, the case of Lebanon during the early 1980s should be examined. After the bombing of the Marine barracks and Ronald Reagans withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country, the number of antiU.S. attacks by the Islamist group Hezbollah plummeted. But perhaps creating a culture of fear, as Brzezinski put it, is more politically useful to the Bush administration than actually carrying out what should be the first and foremost responsibility of any governmentthe protection of its people.
(Editor's Note: "...protection of ITS people?" That phrase indicates state ownership. Unfortunately, that's exactly what has destroyed most people's ability and WILL to protect themselves. )
Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Full Biography and Recent Publications
Jonathan J. Bean is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the forthcoming book, Race and Liberty: The Classical Liberal Tradition of Civil Rights.
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Dominick T. Armentano is professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford (Connecticut) and a research fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. He is author of Antitrust & Monopoly (Independent Institute, 1998).
Alvaro Vargas Llosa is director of The Center on Global Prosperity at The Independent Institute. He is a native of Peru and received his B.S.C. in international history from the London School of Economics. He is widely published and has lectured on world economic and political issues including at the Mont Pelerin Society, Naumann Foundation (Germany), FAES Foundation (Spain), Brazilian Institute of Business Studies, Fundación Libertad (Argentina), CEDICE Foundation (Venezuela), Florida International University, and the Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce. He is the author of the Independent Institute books The Che Guevara Myth and Liberty for Latin America. Full biography and recent publications.
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