Bullying Strategy with Terrorists
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|Sun, 10-31-2004 - 1:33pm|
The Bush Administration's neo-conservative policies and actions reflect the use of "bullying" tactics to achieve U.S. "military pre-eminence". And as referenced above, Bush's bullying behavior during his youth has set the stage for enacting PNAC's strategies in the present. Webster's definition of "bully", includes to "discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering, manner; intimidate." (http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn?stage=1&word=bully). The Bush Administration's neo-conservative plan for controlling the world's behavior is consistent with the definition of bully: PNAC proposes that the U.S. should "fight and decisively win multiple (four), simultaneous, major theater wars" in order to establish U.S. credibility and to intimidate "potentially powerful states" from acting out against the U.S. or our interests. The plan for achieving world order is essentially the same strategy that a bully uses when he or she picks a fight on the playground -- being the "tough guy" and using pre-emptive strikes on weaker kids to scare them into submission and compliance.
Most Americans continue to feel quite vulnerable, since the attacks of 9/11, wishing that they could be assured that our leaders are doing everything they can to safeguard our citizens. Unfortunately, the problem with the Bush Administration's approach to controlling behavior, is that using bullying tactics is not an effective approach to keeping people (or countries) "in line" for the long term. As research on parenting styles has repeatedly shown, using "bullying" parenting techniques may elicit initial compliance from many children, but over time, this strategy for controlling behavior tends to elicit more aggressive and bullying behaviors from a large percentage of children. Furthermore, bullying parenting techniques, described in the research literature as "authoritarian" (versus "authoritative") parenting, lead to feelings of mistrust and fear, rather than respect and "credibility" in the persons being controlled. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12734459 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12081081, http://www.unh.edu/frl/cp24.htm).
We turned out fine:
Many Americans were "bullied" during their youth, and even more Americans were exposed to parenting styles that might be described as "bullying", intimidating, physically threatening and/or abusive. And yet, these Americans have grown up to be fine citizens, who obey the law, and refrain from violence themselves. But, one does not have to look very far to see how the use of parental "bullying" can help to shape certain segments of the population into aggressive bullies and even violent criminals. In 1997, an international, longitudinal study focusing on the relationship between childhood abuse in boys and Anti-social and criminal activity in adults found that one third of all boys have a weakened gene that is activated by physical abuse, pre-disposing them to aggression, antisocial behavior, violent crimes and criminality. (The gene controls the production of MAO, the enzyme responsible for breaking down chemicals linked with mood, aggression and pleasure.) The researchers found that 85% of the boys who had a weakened version of the gene and a history of childhood abuse, turned to criminal or antisocial behavior as adults. (http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/08/01/maoa020801).
This research sheds light on why a child who receives bullying and physically abusive treatment does not automatically turn to a life of violent crime and antisocial behavior as an adult; the study, instead, helps to clarify that it is only a subset of people (mostly men), with a genetic vulnerability, that are most likely to turn to a life of Anti-Social behavior (bullying, aggression, lack of remorse, deception, theft) and violent Criminal activity as adults.
The current use of bullying techniques in the Gulf will eventually back-fire on the United States: While using unjustified pre-emptive aggression and intimidation in the Gulf and elsewhere may scare some "potentially threatening states" into better behavior for the moment, this strategy will eventually lead to more aggression being acted out upon the United States by those countries or groups that are genetically and environmentally prone to respond with violence when they feel threatened. In particular, the Muslim terrorist mind-set is to rise up and strike out at the United States when they feel threatened, regardless of the personal outcome that they may face.
PLAYING INTO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY
The President's use of exaggeration and false charges to remove Saddam Hussein from office has played right into the hands of our enemy. Osama bin Laden (OBL) and his network of terrorists had already labeled the United States as "the Great Satan" for a multitude of earlier offenses. Primary, among his grievances with the U.S., were American troops on sacred Saudi soil during operation Desert Storm; the aftermath of the war in 1991, including a "million innocent children.... dying...killed in Iraq without guilt"; and U.S. support of Israel. (http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york100801.shtml, http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/09/12/binladen.profile/).
This article will not explore OBL's grievances, or the "much deeper" psychological issues that plague OBL or the Arab community, but it is important to summarize the underlying mind-set that fuels the rage that OBL and the rest of the Arab World feels towards the West: The United States feels like a dominating, intrusive and unfair parent that steps all over its weaker, and less lovable step-child (Arab world), in order to champion its favorite and most beloved child (Israel). While this statement does not represent how most Americans feel about the Arab world, this is the way most Arabs in the Middle East experience our involvement in their region of the world. To ignore the reality of their feelings and assume that the terrorist's rage is simple "envy" of our successful, capitalist society is naive and will lead to more problems for the United States. Furthermore, to ignore how our actions fuel the Arab world's perception of the United States will lead to more terrorist acts being perpetrated against Americans
In calling the United States "the Great Satan", OBL and his followers have displaced all their rage on to the ultimate "poison container". An unjustified U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, without a truthful and solid case to support our claims and actions, is an even greater assault on the Muslim mind and consistent with the terrorists' schema of how "the Great Satan" behaves. The Muslim terrorists do not care how evil Saddam Hussein is or how badly he has treated the Iraqis, nor do they care about our good intentions to bring democracy to their region-- all they care about is that the United States lied in order to achieve power in their region of the world. Sadly, the United States falsified reasons for removing Saddam from power, and the resulting death of thousands of civilian Iraqis, have given UBL and other terrorist networks the perfect justification for labeling the U.S. "the Great Satan". And regardless of how poorly the Muslim terrorists behave or their dictators behave, the Bush Administration's deceptive actions, leading to the death of so many civilian Iraqis, has provided these groups with further "justification" for more attacks on the United States.
UNITED STATES EXACERBATES MUSLIM SUSPICIONS
The Muslim world’s attitude towards the West is complicated by their own societal ills, but the United States should not underestimate the considerable distrust that the Arab Community feels towards our nation, secondary to our tie-building policies with less-than-stellar regimes.
Nor should we underestimate how the Bush Administration's false claims about the Iraq-al Qaeda link, resulting in an invasion which has caused the estimated death of more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians, (http://www.sacbee.com/24hour/world/story/1637579p-9344412c.html) has further inflamed the Muslim world's suspiciousness about U.S. motives.
What the Bush Administration does not understand is that its deceptive strategy for removing Saddam Hussein from power, is the exact formula for creating distrust and suspicion in the region, rather than peace and security. If we are dishonest about their Iraqi dictator, what else will the United States lie about? If we do not acknowledge our mistaken claims about Saddam Hussein's link to 9/11, the Muslims of the world have no reason to trust that we will be fair and morally above-board in our "agenda" in the Gulf. If some of our troops use intelligently designed torture and humiliation on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, then how can the Muslim's trust that we are morally superior to the dictator that we deposed.
TERRORISM ON THE UPSWING
The President's lack of remorse for the thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, and his refusal to acknowledge his mistaken claims and unwarranted invasion, adds salt to Middle Eastern wounds, priming suspicious Muslim civilians for recruitment to the terrorist movement. Sadly, because of the poverty and lack of education in many Muslim nations, and the historic dictatorial oppression in this region of the world, the Muslim youth will not always use their heads to make sense of their tragedy, unable to appreciate the terror that underlies the United State’s aggression. Many will jump on the terrorist bandwagon, just as victims of physical abuse turn to criminal violence, with the belief that using intimidation and aggression will vanquish their pain and help them to feel powerful again.
Instead of securing our homeland, and stamping out terrorism for the long haul, America's unjustified attacks on Iraq have set the stage for decades of recruitment to the Muslim terrorist cause. While many al Qaeda operatives may be dead or in custody today, there are thousands more that will line up in the future, to heap rage on the "great Satan" that is now emblazoned in their young minds. The cascade of recent Muslim insurgents into Iraq is only the beginning of this trend, as the ongoing cycle of violence continues. It is a mistake to believe that this is a finite enemy that can be beaten back, once and for all. In fact, this is an enemy whose growth will continue to be fueled by the United State's policy of unjustified pre-emptive force.
THE "AXIS OF EVIL" VERSUS "THE GREAT SATAN"
It is the feeling of being powerless that drives the Muslim terrorists to act out against the United States. They feel unable to control their leaders, their futures and their world. They strike out with carefully planned aggression at the powerful nation that serves as a "poison container" for all the ills in their lives-- the nation that they call "the Great Satan".
And strikingly, it is the fear of becoming powerless that drives the neo-conservatives that occupy the Bush Administration: Fear of losing control of their overseas interests, fear of losing control of their security, and ultimately, fear of losing their peace the way they know it. The neo-conservative Bush Administration feels the only way to control their environment is to strike out with precision-aggression at the "potentially powerful states", also known as the "Axis of Evil".
Both groups have justification in feeling scared. Both groups consider the other to be the true poison container for all that is bad in the world. Both groups use fear and intimidation to control the stranger that terrifies them. Both groups feel righteously entitled to use unjustified aggression to safeguard their interests. And ultimately, both groups fail to realize the ultimate failure that will ensue, as they both continue to mindlessly contribute to a never-ending cycle of violence.
WHY THE FAR LEFT AND THE FAR RIGHT SCARE EACH OTHER
The extreme right and the extreme left in this country are also mutually afraid of each other. The far right fears that the left-leaning citizens are advocating a passive response to our enemies, leaving the United States unprepared and vulnerable to the aggressions of enemies who seek to destroy us. And the far Left fears that the right-leaning citizens are too violent and that aggression will not solve our problems, but will instead, create more problems.
In reality, there is truth in the middle of these two extremes, drawing the good from both sides of the argument, that many thinking Americans embrace. But, unfortunately, our political system does not always welcome the voice of a more centrist viewpoint when it comes to handling our problems in the world.
A TOUGH STAND ON TERRORISM IS NEEDED
In spite of this article's cautioning tone regarding the use of bullying methods to intimidate our enemies, this article is in no way advocating a passive stance on terrorism-- a "turning the other cheek" if you will. It is essential that America draws the line on terrorism in a forthright way and that we do use force when it is justifiably called for. But, if we stoop to invading countries that are not posing an imminent threat to our security, that have never attacked us, or planned to attack us, and we justify our invasion with falsified information, then we are contributing to the cycle of violence, rather than safeguarding our nation from violence.
AMERICANS WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING
While many American citizens may genuinely believe that the best way to secure our safety in the world is to use pre-emptive aggression, they do not realize that the cost of using bullying tactics will lead to more aggression against the United States. Most Americans also do not realize that the Bush Administration's motivation for invading Iraq was rooted in a need to oversee American "interests", and part of a neo-conservative "total war" plan to fight multiple wars simultaneously as a method of intimidating our enemies. Ultimately, most Americans would not have supported going into Iraq if it they had realized that the invasion was predicated on knowingly false claims linking Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda and 9/11, with a cost of over 1,000 American deaths and over 3,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. Most American citizens do not want to see innocent people killed-- and would be horrified if the media reported the number of innocent Iraqi deaths on the evening news. Most Americans would be even more horrified if they realized that this type of unjustified aggression will result in more terrorist recruits, and ultimately, more attacks on the United States.