Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 11:51 am Post subject: How To Prevent Another 9/11
by Paul Findley
On a recent Sunday morning, NBC's Meet-the-Press host Tim Russert, CBS veteran newsman Dan Rather and retired ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel mused about the stormy debate over President Bush's spy policies.
Koppel declared that the debate will end the instant America suffers another 9/11, and he added, ominously “as we certainly will.” He implied, of course, that Congress would then swiftly give the president all the latitude in spying that he wants. Neither Russert nor Rather dissented.
Our present policies make another 9/11 inevitable. Our acts of war strengthen the insurgency in Iraq and elsewhere. U.S. forces, using white phosphorus gas, destroyed most of Fallujah, an ancient Iraqi city of 300,000. A bombing by the CIA—not widely known for war making—caused bitter protest in Pakistan. Al-Qaeda operatives now enjoy rising public approval in both Iraq and Pakistan, but still no change in U.S. policies.
Our government should explore every avenue of diplomatic settlement, but when Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden proposed a truce, the White House contemptuously said no. Bush calls bin Laden's insurgents terrorists. They call themselves fighters for justice. At the least, our officials should ask privately for truce details but, more importantly, for details about Arab grievances against America.
These grievances are soaring, but the U.S. administration has done nothing to try to identify them, much less redress them. In Iraq, our forces try to kill insurgents who mainly want our forces to leave. In Israel and Palestine, we, in effect, help Israel destroy the lives and livelihood of Arabs who resist occupation, as well as those who don't. There, the main Arab grievance is U.S. unconditional support despite Israel's take-over of Arab land and its daily violation of Arab human rights.
Arab fury led to 9/11. Months ago, bin Laden stated publicly that the deadly assault was payback for America's involvement in Israel's lawlessness, principally in 1982 when our government donated the guns, planes and bombs with which Israel slaughtered more than 18,000 Arabs in Beirut. Our long, major in the denial of Arab rights doomed the U.S. invasion of Iraq before it started.
Still, a just peace beckons. Our government can prevent another 9/11 without firing a shot or spending more billions in a futile attempt to encase America in a protective cocoon. All we need to do is stand resolutely for justice. This requires a halt to U.S. acts of war in Iraq and the suspension of all aid until Israel treats Palestinians justly, either by ending its occupation of their land seized in 1967 or by according them full citizenship in Israel. The U.S. government cannot force Israel to do its bidding, but it can and should put firm conditions on further aid.
No matter how Israel responds, these U.S. decisions would elicit pro-American rejoicing worldwide and reduce, perhaps stop the insurgency in Iraq. They would restore luster to the name America, a country now reviled for starting wars, incarcerating insurgents without due process and routinely sending detainees to secret prisons for torture.
Why doesn't Washington act? From long personal experience, I provide the answer: almost all U.S. politicians fear that any criticism of Israel will cause them big trouble the next time they seek reelection.
Fear reaches far beyond Washington. Citizens capable of expressing moral outrage in newspapers, on television, from pulpits, and in the halls of academia are as silent as the politicians. Is everyone afraid that calling Israel to account will lead to false but painful charges of anti-Semitism? Is that why no one—not Russert, Koppel or Rather, not a single journalist of prominence in the nation-- is willing to speak or write about the folly of our lop-sided, lethal pro-Israel policies?
Are we fated to suffer more wars, more dead soldiers and marines, more blighted families here and abroad, more billions in public debt, and searing hostility worldwide, simply because America's national leadership, almost to the last person, quakes before Israel's political power in this land?
President Bush could swiftly transform the grim clouds of war into the bright promise of peace. All he needs to do is sheath his sword and take a firm stand for justice. But will he? -0-
Paul Findley, a Republican, served in Congress 1961-83, 12 of those years on the House Middle East subcommittee. He is the author of five books, one a 7-week Washington Post bestseller. He resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.