Essay on Power, Morality, and Terror

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Power, Morality, and Terror

In the wake of events stemming from the bombing of the World Trade Center, citizens of the United States have slowly been coming to grips with many changes- new threats, new fears, and a new vision of the world and our place within it. As we re-adjust the lens through which we see our geopolitical landscape and begin to formulate a national security policy which can effectively respond to the terrorist threat, we must acquire a firm understanding of what motivates terrorist operatives. It will not suffice to merely throw out simplistic explanations of terrorist motives such as, "they’re evil. . .they hate us. . .they’re irrational. . .they hate freedom." Rather, we must take a systematic look at what
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There is little doubt that many Muslims have genuine grievances against the US and that our hands are by no means clean. Even well-founded complaints such as these do not justify the taking of innocent civilian lives, but they do give us insight into what drives a person to terrorism and, as we shall see later, may give us insight in effectively fighting terrorism.

A second question we must ask ourselves as we attempt to understand the mind of a terrorist is: could it be that the dominant state’s accusations of immorality against the insurgents are thinly veiled disguises to protect its own narrow interests and maintain its supremacy? The United States has had a long-standing policy of selectively applying the word "terrorism" when it serves our interests and sustains our hegemony. Our insurgent friends (those who threaten our own enemies) are "freedom fighters, patriots, heroes"- while those who instead threaten us are "extremists, terrorists, satanic." Our application of the word "terrorist" is not only sporadic, but inconsistent. Ronald Reagan once described Osama bin Laden and his Mujahedin as "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers." This incredible analogy, of course, was made when it was in our highest national interests that bin Laden and friends drive the Soviet menace from Afghanistan in the early 1980’s. Our own cries that terrorism is

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