George Bush needs to expand his online reading list to include the Voice of America web site. VOA has a very interesting article on the reasons for terrorism in the Middle East that offer solutions to the war on terrorism other than military force, which seems to be the only option Bush has considered these last seven years. These solutions, really only one solutuin, are all offered and supported by the leaders of the three countries most often targeted by the terrorists: Afganistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
They all said the same thing last week at the World Ecomic Forum in Davos, Switserland: terrorism will not end until poverty and illeteracy are eradicated in the Islamic countries. Force alone will not put an end to terrorism. So, Bush”s policy of escalated military force in Afganistan and Iraq and wanting to send combat forces to Pakistan is really a waste of lives and money. The money would be better spent on probiding economic relief and literacy programs in those countries. If Bush really wants to win the war against terrorism, he needs to make some serious changes in American foreign policy in that region.
Many Americnas seem to think that every country in the Middle East is as rich from oil profits as are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. That is not true. Not all of the Middle East produces oil and, in some, like Iraq, the oil industry is in the hands of private corporations rather than the national government. The profits from oil in these countries benefits the corporations and their investors, not the people of the country, Also, if at least some of those profits did go to the government, too often they were used to enrich those in power rather than providing for the needs of the people. That certainly has been the case historically in Iraq and Iran.
‘Bush talks a lot about wamting to establish democracy in the Middle East, and that is all well and good. But democracy is not learned by force from an outside invader, as we are, whether we care to admit it or not, in Afganistan and Iraq. It comes from economic stability and education. An electorate needs to be educated in order to be able to make sound political decisions. One of the main reasons democracy has been so successful in the United States for over 200 years is that there has long been a very strong emphasis on universal literacy and public education in this country,
And that education has been kept separate from control by any given religion.
Too often in Islamic countries, the only source of “public” education has been at the local mosque or other religious institution. Democracy cannot work if the country is theocratic – that is, the society and culture is controlled by a religion. Democracy requires secularization – a fact that many Christian fundamentalists in this country seem to ignore or be ignorant of. And secularization, in order to be successful in bringing about democracy, requires that people are literate and well-fed. A people who are kept hungry and illiterate tend to turn to whatever demagogue is handy who promises them bread and circuses.
So, if America wants to build democracy and end terror, let”s stop sending troops and bombs and all the other instruments of war to Afganistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Instead, let”s send them the tools they need to eradicate illiteracy and to build a prosperous local economy that benefirs every citizen of those countries. Let’s stop trying to force democracy on them at the end of a gun barrel. Instead, let’s teach them the skills they need to implement democracy for themselves.
As the old adage goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will feed himself and his family for the rest of his life.
BTW, here”s the link to that VOA article: Religion Alone Not Responsible for Suicide Bombings
You might want to check out the video associated with this article as well.