Surrender and Endless War Are Not the Only Two Responses to Terrorism

Scott Hudson’s It Could Happen Anywhere (Verge, Vol 6, No 6, May 2013) presents two possible responses to the Boston Marathon bombings, surrender and endless war.

We are at war with radical Islam and we will likely be in that state of war long past my lifetime. We have two choices in this war. We can give up and convert ourselves, institute Shariah law, pray five times a day facing Mecca, stop listening to music, outlaw dancing, outlaw alcohol, pull our daughters out of school, close down the barbecue restaurants that sell pork, and force women to wear burquas. We can surrender and abandon our entire way of life, because that is the aim of radical Islam, or we can fight.

The most important problem with this passage is that the expressed motivation of every terrorist attack against the United States has been against specific United States policies, such as the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and unqualified support for Israel, not against people’s consumption of pork and alcohol and women’s apparel choices. United States foreign policy supports its global empire with more than 700 military bases, overt and covert support for allied repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and overt and covert actions for “regime change” in Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. Similar policies have been in place since at least shortly after the end of World War II. Isn’t it possible that dismantling the United States policy of global empire would result in less terrorism? After all, terrorists are not targeting every country in the world where there is music and dancing.

This change would not eliminate terrorism because of the availability of explosive materials and mentally unstable young men and because of the numerous political and social conflicts worldwide which would continue to generate violence. But endless global war on terrorism is worse than the terrorism itself. We in the United States are four times more likely to be killed by a lightning bolt than an act of terrorism. And we have to remind ourselves that there is an entire industry built on taxpayer dollars sunk into the endless pit of “Homeland Security.”

It’s time for us to reexamine how we engage with different parts of the world and bring our policies into conformance with our values and international law. That is a third response to terrorism which Mr. Hudson should consider.


My favorite politician in the last decade has been Dennis Kucinich. But voices from other places in the political spectrum, such as Ron Paul, have also made these observations about United States interventionist policies. Michael Scheuer has written forcefully against interventionism.

I’m eager to read The Terror Factory by Trever Aaronson, which examines the renewed FBI Cointelpro-like investigations in the name of counterterrorism.

Updated 2013-May-13: Read Don’t Worry, the Cost of US Imperialism is Cost-Free by Barry Eisler.

Updated 2013-May-14: “How do you make a terrorist? You just label him a terrorist.” — from Terrorism and the Public Imagination by Hamilton Nolan


One thought on “Surrender and Endless War Are Not the Only Two Responses to Terrorism

  1. Pingback: The Poor Case for Torture | Aym Playing

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