Leave the hornet’s nest alone

Steve Skutnik

So it has begun. And the words came from bin Laden himself – U.S. foreign policy is a core motivation to why his group chooses to attack the United States. Citing everything from the failed sanctions on Iraq to our unconditional support of Israel, despite any claims of excessive force of human rights abuses, bin Laden has essentially verified the claims of a select group of Americans who believe that throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest is a bad idea.

Surprise, surprise. You heard it here first, folks.

The question comes up again – how valuable are our foreign policy objectives which can now directly be linked to motivated terrorist attacks against the United States? How many more innocent people will die for what amounts to global hegemony in the name of “freedom” and “justice”?

Among bin Laden’s demands were a “withdrawal of U.S. troops from holy Muslim lands.” A natural question at this point should be, “Why are they there in the first place?”

What pressing foreign policy objective has mandated that we risk American life and limb not only by placing troops out where every nut with a pound of plastique can get them, but also in engendering a deep hatred against America as a nation?

Some claim that if we begin to disengage our forces from where they don’t belong to begin with, that this amounts to “giving in.”

Are we “giving in” if we finally reconsider our failed objectives of intervention and nation-building, not to mention sanctions which starve civilians yet keep dictators in power? Or are we wising up? How many more Americans need to die before we have an answer? Do we need to live in constant fear for our lives like the people of Israel, given the foreign policy decisions of their own leaders?

Some would argue that pulling out our troops now and rethinking our failed system of sanctions would simply be appeasing bin Laden, thus giving a message to terrorists everywhere that the U.S. is weak and malleable.

Assuming this is true, when would be a good time to start rethinking our foreign policy? After bin Laden’s gone? After al -Qaida is gone? The Taliban? What about the next tin-kettle dictator or terrorist faction that takes over?

Following this logic, the answer quickly becomes “never.”

So if you want to know when every radical faction with a beef against the U.S. will let up: See the above answer.

I’d like to draw upon an analogy to my childhood at this point. When I was young, I would sometimes argue with my father – often times getting him from shades of red to deep purple.

One of his favorite expressions at these times was, “Son, you’re digging yourself a hole.” As in, I was digging deeper and deeper into something that would become quite difficult to get myself out of.

We are doing the same thing right now in our obstinance, and the price is becoming unspeakably high.

It is time to employ an unpalatable moral calculus – that being what value do we place upon our lives? What policy objectives do we have that are worth the repeated attacks both on our troops and our citizens, the kind that bin Laden has promised us?

Some may call this logic sheer cowardice. I call it prudence. Cowardice is equipping someone else with a uniform and a gun to do the dirty work you don’t even know why we have to do.

Can anyone justify why American blood must be spilled for the security of other nations? Can someone please explain why our forefathers fought and died for our “right” to police the world as we see fit and send our sons and daughters home in body bags?

They didn’t – they fought for our right to be free from insane wars that we don’t belong in. To go out and wage war on all corners of the globe in the name of “freedom” is throwing away everything they died for.

Bin Laden has repeatedly spun this now as a war of the U.S. and its allies versus Islam. Should this surprise anyone, given his prior fatwahs and proclamations of jihad against us?

If it isn’t patently obvious what is going on yet, consider this angle: bin Laden has been trying for years to egg the U.S. into officially joining his “holy war.”

So what do we do – yield to our lesser instincts and give bin Laden his “holy war?” Or do we appeal to our better judgments and find a way out of this mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into?

A better question is this: Do we want to live like the people of Israel – in constant fear of some kind of suicide bomber or other random attack – or do we want to live the way we have lived before, in relative peace and security?

Perhaps the question has already been answered for us.

Steve Skutnik is a senior in physics from Palm Harbor, Fla.