Michael: This is Terror TooAn AWOL Israeli soldier killed 4 in an Arab town when he opened fire aboard a bus. The soldier was Eden Tsuberi, who abandoned his unit two months ago after refusing to participate in the planned evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza. One guess what his beef was.
Did Tsuberi subscribe to a dark vision of political bondage and love of death, as Bush contends that all terrorists do? Did he hate the freedoms of the innocent Arabs he murdered? I doubt that. Nor does true Judaism preach hatred, intolerance and holy war.
Many Christian Dominionists, who advocate the abolition of secular government and carry out the assinations of abortion doctors, are terrorists, or potential terrorists. Do they represent the Christian faith? Do they represent all WASPs? All Americans? No.
Terrorists are simply people dedicated to the point of sacrificing their lives and murdering others for an ideological goal they cannot achieve through any political process. Their political views are often grounded in the dogmas of religious belief. Their political goals are not necessarily illegitimate; but when they can find no way to advance their cause, they turn to murder. It doesn't mean their religions are evil; just that some believers have twisted their faith into an instrument of hatred and death.
Our leaders do us no favors by further demonizing those who are properly our enemies. That only prevents understanding, which is the vital key to defeating any enemy. We must fight and defeat religiously inspired political radicalism of all creeds, but in the spirit of jihad, not Schwartzkopf. More killing won't always fix the underlying problem and, as we are seeing in Iraq, can even exacerbate the problem. When the terrorists political cause is just and achievable, legitimizing those political goals can remove the causes of terrorism - the IRA for example. When the political cause is unjust and impossible, ending terrorism neccesarily begins to look more like attrition than negotiation.
Failing to distinguish between those two very different species of terrorism is the difference between leadership and simply being reactionaries; it's also what made the 'War on Terror' fold its tent so quickly. The Pentagon and State Department officials who promoted the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism at least recognized that economics, diplomacy, and negotiation are necessary weapons if America is to lead this struggle. Unfortunately, it looks as if Bush is sticking to his rhetoric, and his disasterous tactics.
The problem isn't really the slogan, or even the violence; it's the extremism, stupid. If one simply tries to destroy the violent extremists, without also engaging the extremists who aren't yet violent, one is only fixing symptoms, not addressing causes. It is the great missed opportunity of the Bush Administration that our best chances to address the causes of Middle East terrorism have already been squandered.