The Best, Most Effective Way to Stem This Rising Tide of Terrorism

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As terrorism rears its ugly head in the world, the U.S. and its Western allies need to better understand the depth and complexities of this problem so they can take effective steps to minimize and, hopefully, prevent acts of terror rather than just reacting with some form of retaliation after they have already taken place.

While the threat of increasing terrorism looms over the entire world America thus far has not experienced serious attacks by foreign terrorists, that is, except 9/11. But when one considers the sudden rise of ISIS and other associated terrorist groups and the anger and hatred that motivates them to seek revenge against the West, then the leaders of the U.S. and their allies better wake up to this great potential threat and plan accordingly.

When one encounters a very serious and escalating problem such as this spreading of terrorism throughout the world it’s imperative that the root cause be identified in order to develop the solutions to bring it under control. If you do not identify the root cause of the problem then you will never solve it. But if you do then you can, in fact, take measures to deal with it effectively.

The reality of the situation is that terrorism can never be completely eliminated. It’s been a part of life on this planet almost from the beginning of time and it will exist in one form or another as long as humans inhabit the earth. But if we do not come up with the ways to bring this current situation under control we will find ourselves living in a chaotic world filled with constant fear and paranoia.

Terrorism can be found in many regions and countries but the terrorism that poses the greatest threat is currently concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa, both of which have large Muslim populations.

Because of that fact, it’s extremely important that these Western governments and their leaders fully comprehend that Muslims, other religious groups, or other societal factions all have their dangerous, rogue elements. So in the process of planning appropriate responses to this monumental problem they must make certain that the people of the Muslim faith, collectively, are not singled out as the main cause of this overall problem; that they do not make the mistake of promoting guilt by association; that will prove to be very counterproductive.

This wave of terrorism is largely the product of deep-seated anger and associated hatred that has been building up for decades because of many of the aggressive actions taken against them by various U.S. governments, often supported by their Western allies; actions that have overthrown governments, deposed leaders, including dictators, installed new ones, and interfered in the internal affairs of nations. This has included invasions and occupations and the conducting of bombing campaigns in nations such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria.

That statement is not supposition, that’s documented fact. Not only that but we are currently witnessing  some of these same nations engaging in actions in Syria that could be referred to as throwing more gasoline on a raging fire.

So what should the U.S. and its allies do to defuse this highly dangerous situation? Should they ramp up their military force across this entire region and try to establish a suffocating control over the Muslim nations and their people?

Absolutely not; to keep following an agenda that is clearly not working and actually backfiring would be an exercise in futility and a colossal mistake. What they must do instead is to finally acknowledge that this highly faulted strategy is never going to work. It’s time to think much more deeply and dramatically change course.

The U.S. and Western nations should, as soon as it is feasible, remove their military forces from Middle Eastern and North African countries; that is, all the forces which are not there at the specific invitation of the host sovereign nations. In other words, they need to remove their militaries out of countries where they don’t belong and where they have no legal right to be according to international law.

One of the only exceptions to this rule would be the nation of Qatar which willingly allows the U.S. Central Command headquarters to maintain a presence at this country’s Al Udeid Air Base.

The first country for the U.S. and their allies to exit is Syria. Stop all the bombing immediately and then pack up and leave.

But wait; there are those who will say that they must stay there to fight ISIS and its associated terrorist groups. No, that is not the case; in fact, it’s not a secret that the primary objective of the U.S. government has been to remove President Assad of Syria from power. But to continue to concentrate on removing Assad would be following the same misguided strategy that removed Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein of Iraq from power; and then which left those countries in a state of chaos and disarray; and generated a massive amount of anger and hatred in the hearts of the people that came under attack.

No, removing Assad is not the answer; the chances that it would be successful are very poor at best, and here’s why. Russia entered that conflict at the invitation of Assad and has established a powerful military presence in Syria and, along with Iranian and Hezbollah troops on the ground, is mounting a massive attack on ISIS to destroy it and prevent the removal of Assad. Russia is not going to step aside, so it’s very likely that Assad is going to remain in power.

Now, besides Syria, U.S. military actions have involved the use of drones to launch Hellfire missiles into the countries of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with the intent of destroying terrorists. In far too many instances these missiles have, instead, killed innocent civilians. These drone attacks have accomplished little more than stoking the fires of anger and hatred and the creation of more revenge seekers.  Therefore, the next step to reduce the degree of terrorism is to completely halt these drone incursions into those specific countries.

Following this strategy does not mean that the U.S. should not have some form of military presence anywhere in the Middle East and surrounding regions. That can be done with the presence of substantial naval power. But what we need to see is the end of the unjustified invasions, occupations and interference in internal affairs. U.S. leaders would do well to adopt the wise strategy of President Theodore Roosevelt and his “Speak softly and carry a big stick” policy. Make war an absolute last resort and only when America is directly threatened should such action follow.

What America and its people need right now is a kind of minor miracle. Somehow, we need to see new leaders emerge in our government, take this country in a new direction and bring an end to this military hubris. We need a government with leaders and legislators who fully understand that our nation’s foreign policy and relations with other nations must undergo a complete transformation. We can’t continue to make more enemies.

Doing just that will, over time, serve to stem this rising tide of terrorism, because when people in other countries see America taking this new, positive direction and forsaking an agenda of aggressive militarism they will no longer feel so very threatened. When they are not attacked and invaded and occupied by foreign militaries the threat of terrorism will slowly but surely diminish.

But if future leaders refuse to use better judgment and rational thinking and continue pursuing this agenda of using military force to protect their “special interests” then we will see this wave of terrorism gather momentum and America will be a continuing major target for revenge-seeking terrorists; and the War on terror will never end. That’s the last thing that America needs.

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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.

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