letters being written to the newspapers over the attacks on the New York
Trade Centre and the Pentagon concern themselves with frustration, anger
and revenge. We, as a people, want to get even; and we are in a damn-the-torpedoes
sort of mood.
All of this, while understandable because of our anger, is not fully rational.
Terrorism is an attack by the weak against the strong. But, more importantly,
it is often an attack by the weak against the civil society of the strong.
As long as we have a free and open society, we can't really protect ourselves
against individuals and small groups who are willing to sacrifice their
lives in a war for their political or religious causes. Nor can we strike
back with much, if any, effectiveness. The real danger is that any reprisal
or military action on our part will create whole nations shot through with
We need to do a number of things, and they involve rational choices, not
First, we need to move our troops and military equipment away from Mecca
and Medina so that we do not continue to soil those holy spots of the Arab
Second, we need to step away completely from Israel so that the Israeli-Palestinian
dispute can be resolved without our acting as a friend and protector of
Third, we need to lift sanctions against nations around the world in order
that we can't be seen as an unfeeling and unthinking giant, concerned only
with our own welfare.
Fourth, we need to do a complete about-face in which we end the war against
Iraq and then give them supplies to rebuild their nation and the health
of their citizens.
Fifth, we should lead the effort to forgive the debts of developing nations.
Finally, we need to revise our thinking about our place in the world so
that from here on out, our foreign policy reflects our wish to both keep
a low profile and yet act benevolently towards other nations.
All of this may not markedly decrease the threat directed against us, but
at least it will give us a moral and philosophical base on which to stand.
Figure out the full cost of launching a full military attack on the
Taliban. Use one-half of that amount to buy U.S. and Russian wheat
and rice. Ship it via B-52s, C-5As and leased Russian AN-124 super
transports to Kabul and other airports in Afghanistan.
Set up local co-ops for the distribution of that food at below-market
prices. Use the proceeds to pay for agricultural services that would
also be augmented by the resources of the United States Agency for
International Development, United Nations, and others.
The air crews -- particularly the pilots and the truck drivers -- should
be women. Make sure the people in the region know that.
At the same time, work with the local people to build practical models
of what they and the region are about and what they can do with a variety
of resources over a variety of time frames.
Set up a $1,000 reward for Afghani citizen disclosure of Taliban members,
with a $10,000 reward to be paid upon conviction or other resolution
of justice resulting from the original reward.
Make a place where people are required to attend and can state their
interests without fear of intimidation and retribution.
And this is just a start.