I found this stunnningly open, self-critical and honest article at Chet’s blogJust Wondering“. With his permission I cross-post it here … it is a MUST READ!

For just over four years now, our nation has been deeply involved in an extremely costly conflict which has been dubbed “The War on Terrorism.” The cost financially is one thing, now totaling hundreds of billions of dollars which is being borrowed from our children and grandchildren. What hits even harder though, is the loss of human lives by our brave young men and women who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the battle zone. Tens of thousands more are being damaged in body and mind. Added to this is the on-going cost to families whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, are deployed for two and three tours of duty. A major sacrifice falls on the shoulders of the few.

In regard to this sacrifice borne by the few, President Bush says this kind of sacrifice by our military families may go on for many years. I’ve begun to wonder if they and the rest of us really understand what we’re up against in this “war on terrorism.” I wonder about the effectiveness of using bombs, missiles, sophisticated weaponry, and conventional armies as the primary means of combating this enemy called “terrorism.” Surely there is a better approach to addressing this so-called enemy.

I believe a better approach may begin with clarifying the reason certain people hate us. The reason given by our president following the sickening attacks on 9/11 of 2001 was this: “They attacked our nation because we are the brightest and best example of freedom and democracy in the world.” That explanation has remained the dominant one repeated by him, and parroted by the media again and again ever since. In modified form it has become like a mantra: “The terrorists hate America because of our freedom and our values.”

Yet, I wonder if that is really the case. I believe the causes of terrorism are much broader than simply hating our freedom and our values.It seems clear to me that certain of our government policies may actually be responsible for sowing the seeds of terrorism. Surely it is apparent to most of us that there are powerful, special interest groups in Washington who unfairly influence our lawmakers for their personal benefit and privileges using money and politics to undermine good government and the common good. When those special interests influence certain of our foreign policies having to do with securing vital resources, people in the Third World often become the losers. Many of these people, convinced that they have been cheated, exploited, and wronged, decide they will no longer tolerate what they perceive as gross injustice. Some become terrorists, and tragically, innocent people die.

At the risk of being accused of anti-semitism I share one glaring example of a very questionable policy. It is our nation’s unbending support of Israel against the Palestinians. Israel receives billions of dollars annually from the U. S. to maintain it’s military power and economy. With American support, Israel continues to bulldoze Palestinian homes, take more and more of their land, and is building a wall that cuts them off from their fields and places of employment. Our support of Israel’s cruel tactics sends a clear, though unintended, message to all Mid-Eastern people. That message is this: the U. S. will support any dictator or ruthless power that helps America increase its influence and dominance in securing vital resources, especially oil.

Our support of the terrorist activities of Israel is only one example. We have a history of supporting numerous tyrants and dictators who let us help ourselves to their oil and other resources to the detriment of the vast majority of their population. What many Americans don’t seem to realize is that our government has supported the terrorist activities of many Third World dictators when it was in our economic interest. There are, of course, terrorists out there in the world who are just plain criminals. They must be hunted down and brought to justice. There have been some success stories in this cause. For instance, the train bombing in Spain, Britain’s current trial of the London bombers, and Libya’s surrender of those charged with the Lockerbie bombing are good examples of this.

Terrorism, however, is not something we can quantify. It’s not something detectable by radar. Terrorism cannot be killed with bullets or bombs. According to a recent study, using government and Rand Corporation data, the war in Iraq has already led to “a seven-fold increase in terrorism.” Perhaps a major reason for this is that terrorism is a mind-set that breeds in the “swamps of despair.” This despair seems to be rooted in a sense of injustice, exploitation, and hopelessness. If this is so, then we must find ways to drain these “swamps of despair” if we are ever to see a significant decrease in terrorism. We must urge our leaders to turn from relying on military solutions to root out terrorism and begin to pursue creative humanitarian and diplomatic means for drying up the “swamps of despair.” When the “swamps” giving birth to terrorism are ignored, it is evident that terrorism continues to multiply.

No, it’s not our freedom and values Arabs and other Mid-Easterners despise. Much more likely it’s exploitive policies and tactics of certain U. S. policies. Thinking it’s our freedom and values they hate blinds us to examining these questionable policies. This results in the horrible consequences of unnecessary loss of life for our own soldiers as well as countless innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I love this country of my birth and I want us to live up to our highest ideals both at home and abroad. While I certainly don’t condone acts of terrorism, I believe it’s high time we face the truth that though we claim our mission is to export democracy and freedom, that claim may well be masking some very greedy motives. Special interest groups buying off dictators in order to secure cheap resources may actually be breeding the terrorism we abhor.

What can we do about the threat of terrorism? If nothing more, we need to put pressure on our president and congressional delegates to clean up our act in regard to those foreign policies that exploit Third World nations. We need to demand that our government cease supporting dictators who side with the exploiters in robbing their own people of their country’s natural resources and thereby keep them in abject poverty. We must become aware of the discrimination, injustices, desperation and seething anger that are breeding on-going terroristic activity. We must pursue policies more in line with America’s highest ideals of liberty and justice. We must embrace policies that lead to the drying up of the “swamps of despair” which continue to breed terrorism.

Del Roper is the retired pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church. Upon his retirement, Roper continues to reside in Grand Island and is involved in various civic and church activities. In a continuing series, the Central Nebraska Concerned Citizens take up topics that affect families in Central Nebraska and the world. Comments and suggestions for future topics may be sent to


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