In preparation for a class I taught on Terrorism, I asked my network of friends and
family to email me their thoughts on preventing terrorism. Here are the results,
along with additional quotes:
Nonviolence is the cure for violence. Moving away from violent confrontation and
toward nonviolent cooperation is the key. Trying to get at the source of people's
pain, principally by listening to them, and then working with them to address that
pain in a healthy way, would eliminate terrorism. Also, our encouragement of
fear as a culture serves to worsen the situation by polarizing and separating
people based on a contrived sense of immediacy. This amounts to replicating
the mentality of our "opponents," who similarly feel that their options are both
limited and urgent, thus making room to justify irrational and violent acts. I'm also
sending a story that includes an audio excerpt from Martin Luther King giving a
speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam."
Our country needs to stop killing civilians in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). The
relatives of those killed then become our enemies. And we need to be more
sensitive to the customs of the populations where our soldiers and other
Americans are staying.
If you haven't read "Three Cups of Tea", do so. Greg Mortensen goes into
Pakistan, etc. and builds schools with the locals and insists that the girls in the
villages get educated as well as the boys. Working along side of the villagers and
letting them get to know us is the answer. If we are friends, not faceless
enemies, then terrorism won't have much of a chance. That's my opinion. Oh,
and we could accomplish this by sending our strong young people over to build,
rather than to fight!!!!
Each increase in "prevention" begets an increase in cost. That cost can be
defined in a multitude of ways...not necessarily economic. You understand The
Law of Diminishing Returns better than I. It seems impossible to utilize rationality
as a means of neutralizing all of the various forces that create terrorism. Was
Paul Revere a terrorist or a patriot? Are the killers of innocent bystanders near
abortion clinics less deplorable than the Taliban suicide bombers. I have read
and thought about "terrorism" for years. My conclusions become less-defined as
my knowledge of the subject grows.
Guess I'm one who believes in policing the home-front and not going after the
"terrorists" worldwide. I know that's a simplified statement but that's what I
believe in a nutshell. Sending our troops all over the world to hunt down alleged
terrorists seems counterproductive. We spread ourselves too thin and emulate
the ugly American moniker. I'm not saying we become a police state at home but
use the best screening methods possible and hire the best to do the
investigations and monitoring.
I believe that terrorism starts with a way of binary thinking, us/them; right/wrong;
win/lose; black/white; Israel/Palestine; husband/wife. This way of thinking
leads to polarization and causes violence and family discord in America from
domestic violence, divorce, and gang violence. Binary thinking causes political
polarization with hate mongering on the talk shows. It caused the US to invade
Iraq without adequate information--to change a bad government to one similar to
ourselves without recognizing the society that government functioned within.
When Americans think of terrorism, most think of radical Islamic terrorism. They
are unaware of their own terrorist thinking. If Americans want to create a
peaceful world, we have to begin with our own society. We must be more
educated to recognize and respect people with different points of view. This can
be practiced in the family and in schools. It would probably take a generation to
change the way Americans think. There are people out there trying to educate
the world to think and relate differently such as Marshall Rosenberg who wrote
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. He has worked with groups of
Israeli and Palestinian children as well as conducting groups all over America.
Other societies follow America's lead. President Obama's election may be a
beginning. A white majority elected a biracial man. This could mark the
beginning of the end of polarized racial thinking. Women in leadership can lead
to less polarization around women's power. The most educated people, those
who have studied the humanities, recognize and respect differences. Getting a
broad education should become a national passion as an approach to national
Historical reasons for terrorism:
Colonial and super powers which have cut apart traditional areas and drawn
boundaries where there were none before, relocating and bringing in indentured
workers from other parts of the world; e.g. are of course Palestine-Israel, India-
Pakistan, China-Taiwan, N-S Korea, Vietnam, All of Africa, Sri Lanka.
Prevention? Too late now? Have to mitigate with an even hand (unlike in Israel
and other places where the US has traditionally favored one more over the other
or in pure self-interest) and to prevent this form of division from ever happening;
again, too late now since for one, we have essentially carved up Iraq. It will be a
matter of time when the Kurdish situation between Turkey and Iraq becomes the
next long drawn out Middle East issue with consequence in increased terrorism.
Economic/poverty basis and prevention:
Somalia and other nations which practice terrorism hide under the veil of religion
but do it for economic reasons. A more effective development model and focused
foreign aid to assist these nations to grow and emerge as viable economic
trading partners have to be put in place. Debt relief, after years of World Bank
and IMF controlled aid which did nothing to help these nations to grow, have to
Poor governance a basis and prevention:
As in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Congo, etc., etc. Corruption and suffering under a
despot, etc. Remove the offending creatures controlling these countries!
Environmental basis and prevention:
Sudan is an example, I can think, where the present and upcoming future fight
over livable territories and increasingly scarce resources (read water, fuel for
cooking, agricultural lands, reduction of livable space due to rising sea levels
etc.) is happening/will happen. Teaching environ-friendly/green practices in the
industrial world and sustainable living to all will be crucial in delaying these
effects if reducing and eliminating is even possible.
Racial and religious basis and prevention:
Enough said about this; time to practice what is being preached!
My terrorism prevention strategy is simple. WE MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS. It
would take away the terrorists motivation for attacking us. I don't buy the 'they
hate us for our freedom' b.s. either. That's just Bush-league propaganda. If they
hate freedom, why aren't they attacking Australia or Canada? Also, our carte
blanche support of the Israeli Zionists really trips their trigger (and mine as well).
Take the advice of the founding fathers and be friends with all and allies with
none. You can accomplish much more with this philosophy than with the current
preemptive 'eye-for-an-eye' crap we're currently caught up in.
I've also said all along that the real terrorists are the ones in the black suits and
ties who fund terrorist groups, plot to overthrow duly-elected governments and
sponsor false-flag terrorism. These are likely the higher-ups in the worldwide
Central Bank cartels who always make a profit from warring.
That is probably the most important question facing the world today. No one has
an answer. There is a supreme clash of ideologies, that is for certain. Centuries
of built up hostility. I guess it boils down to the fact that, how do you deal with the
violent element within the Muslim community. What causes them to sacrifice
their lives for their cause? We here in the Western World have a higher regard
for human life and human rights. (Unless you are caught up in the world of
Ignoring the threat as was done throughout the 1990's certainly was no answer
as the repeated attacks simply got more brazen and emboldened the terrorists
even further. We could have reacted to 9/11 by spending all the time and effort
to protecting our own borders from any further attacks. But, that would still have
left Israel acting as a lightning rod that attracts the militant extremist Muslim
venom. Leaving Israel to fend for themselves would create a loose cannon in a
volatile environment. They probably would have already attacked Iran if it were
not for the restraints our government urged them to take. Since neither you or I
have access to all the intelligence, we cannot make an honest assessment as to
what is really happening.
In short, I don't have an answer. Perhaps we should leave it in the hands of God
. . . . or, is that a 'cop-out' ??
The Bible is very clear on how to prevent terrorism. Problem is...many people,
professing Christians included, don't believe that it is the Word of God; that His
Word is the same yesterday, today and forever.
So far, the ‘prevention of terrorism’ landscape looks to hold steep mountains over
which to traverse: religious differences and its radical elements, Israel’s lightning
rod presence, lack of apparent inquiry into root causes, economic disparity,
funding sources of extremists, existence of internationally linked drug cartels,
differences in political governance, leanings of human-kind to polarize/separate,
rather than engage and acknowledge common ground. All these and more, in
the face of a very pluralistic world population, where non-whites and non-
Christians hold a majority number.
Prevention strategies to-date seem to emphasize policing home fronts and
attacking and invading foreign countries, with little apparent regard for addressing
root causes of terrorism's presence on both the nat’l and int'l stages.
Being an idealist, I view the power of personal relationships to be the foundation
upon which to work the issues underlying terrorism. Dividing the world into
'good-evil' serves no real value, other than to justify aggressive responses, which
begets even more aggressive responses.
As long as there are elite/secret bastions for the rich, elegal and powerful, there
will likely be reasons for fear tactics, rebellion and revolution, and as long as
religions individually and collectively avoid the reality of their common
denominators, while accentuating their individual dogmas and language-based
differences, suspicions will prevail and justification for aggression will exist. We
are all brothers and sisters of the world community and need to celebrate the
unique qualities held therein! Do I hear an amen!
Not everyone here will share my thoughts. Still, I will respectfully say what I
think. The existing world economic order constitutes a system of plundering and
exploitation like no other in history. Thus, the peoples believe less and less in
statements and promises. The prestige of the international financial institutions
rates less than zero. The world economy is today a huge casino. Recent
analyses indicate that for every dollar that goes into trade, over one hundred end
up in speculative operations completely disconnected from the real economy. As
a result of this economic order, over 75 percent of the world population lives in
underdevelopment, and extreme poverty has already reached 1.2 billion people
in the Third World. So, far from narrowing, the gap is widening. The revenue of
the richest nations, that in 1960 was 37 times larger than that of the poorest, is
now 74 times larger. The situation has reached such extremes that the assets of
the three wealthiest persons in the world amount to the GDP of the 48 poorest
countries combined. The number of people actually starving was 826 million in
the year 2001. There are at the moment 854 million illiterate adults while 325
million children do not attend school. There are 2 billion people who have no
access to low cost medications and 2.4 billion lack basic sanitation conditions.
No less than 11 million children under the age of 5 perish every year from
preventable causes while half a million go blind for lack of vitamin A. The life
span of the population in the developed world is 30 years higher than that of
people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. A true genocide!
The poor countries should not be blamed for this tragedy. They neither
conquered nor plundered entire continents for centuries; they did not establish
colonialism, or re-establish slavery; and, modern imperialism is not of their
making. Actually, they have been its victims. Therefore, the main responsibility
for financing their development lies with those states that, for obvious historical
reasons, enjoy today the benefits of those atrocities. The rich world should cancel
their foreign debt and grant them fresh soft credits to finance their development.
The traditional offers of assistance, always scant and often ridiculous, are either
inadequate or unfulfilled. For a true and sustainable economic and social
development to take place much more is required than is usually admitted.
Measures as those suggested by the late James Tobin to curtail the irrepressible
flow of currency speculation-albeit it was not his idea to foster developmentwould
perhaps be the only ones capable of generating enough funds, which in
the hands of the UN agencies and not of awful institutions like the IMF, could
supply direct development assistance with a democratic participation of all
countries and without the need to sacrifice the independence and sovereignty of
The Consensus draft, which the masters of the world are imposing on this
conference, intends that we accept humiliating, conditioned and interfering alms.
Everything created since Bretton Woods until today should be reconsidered. A
farsighted vision was then missing, thus, the privileges and interests of the most
powerful prevailed. In the face of the deep present crisis, a still worse future is
offered where the economic, social and ecological tragedy of an increasingly
ungovernable world would never be resolved and where the number of the poor
and the starving would grow higher, as if a large part of humanity were doomed.
It is high time for statesmen and politicians to calmly reflect on this. The belief
that a social and economic order that has proven to be unsustainable can be
forcibly imposed is really senseless. As I have said before, the ever more
sophisticated weapons piling up in the arsenals of the wealthiest and the
mightiest can kill the illiterate, the ill, the poor and the hungry but they cannot kill
ignorance, illnesses, poverty or hunger. It should definitely be said: "Farewell to
arms." Something must be done to save Humanity! A better world is possible!
JFK quote: "those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent
"Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role
of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the
privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas
investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world
revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must
rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a
person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property
rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism,
extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of
many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the
Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we
must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and
women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's
highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see
that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty
and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual
capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South
America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the
countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed
gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling
that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way
of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with
napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous
drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from
dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged,
cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year
after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift
is approaching spiritual death."
MLK - April 04, 2007 - Beyond Vietnam: 40th Anniversary of King’s Landmark Antiwar Speech
Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script
for Radio Hanoi,” and the Washington Post declared that King had “diminished
his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
JUAN GONZALEZ: Forty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King gave the
speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” It was April 4, 1967, a year
to the day before he was murdered. He was speaking at the Riverside Church
here in New York. King billed the speech as a declaration of independence from
the war and called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the
world today.” Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded
like a script for Radio Hanoi.” And the Washington Post declared that King had
“diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”
We turn now to that speech that King gave in April 1967.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: If we do not stop our war against the people
of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see
this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The
world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It
demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our
adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the
Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn
sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in
Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a
date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the
1954 Geneva Agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant
asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under the new regime, which
included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for
the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly
needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile, we in the
churches and synagogues have a continuing task: while we urge our government
to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment, we must continue to raise our
voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We
must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative
method of protest possible.
These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment
when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly.
Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his
convictions, but we must all protest.
Now, there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and
sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against
the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to
say something even more disturbing.
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the
American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves
organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation.
They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about
Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South
Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending
rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American
life and policy.