A Different Kind of War

Dr. Gordon S. Black I returned home Sunday morning after a 28-hour journey from Tokyo to my home, Rochester, New York, convoluted by the pain and anger of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I came sharing the emotions felt by all Americans - anger, profound sadness at the losses sustained by so many of my people, resolve that this should have never happened and should never happen again, and a growing sense of confusion about what we should do to confront and eliminate this terrible threat to our children and our way of life. When I finally could go out on Sunday, I went over to my son's house in Rochester to see him, my daughter-in-law and my grandson, Adam. Adam is a round faced two year old, totally unaffected by the horror that the three of us had experienced. We went outside on a beautiful, nearly fall day while he displayed all of the antics of a two year old, playing with great joy and abandon on his many toys. I did not stay long because I was simply too tired, having lost most of my sleep during the week long visit in Tokyo, but it was long enough to ask myself the question of what kind of world were we going to leave for him at the end of what appears to be a long, protracted struggle to eliminate the enormous threat that now confronts him and all of the two year olds in the world like him. My own answer was not what I expected, and I wanted to share that with my family and other Americans because I have the profound feeling that we are now going to choose precisely what kind of world Adam and other children will inherit. It is easy to hate the people who last week took so many fathers and mothers away from their children. I have spent more time crying for these children and the victims than I have ever cried for anything in my life. It is easy to want to eradicate the forces and people that perpetrated this horror on so many innocents. I have all of those feelings, but suddenly it was clear to me that they are simply not enough. Hate never raises healthy children, not in this Country and not anywhere in the world, and healthy children do not commit the terrible acts that were inflicted on America. What we must want, instead, is for the world to produce children that would never consider committing this kind of act against fellow human beings in the first place. If we are going to win a war for healthy children like Adam, military force alone is simply not the answer, even if we can mobilize enough of the resources of power and force to impose a violent solution upon the world. Are we going to reduce Afghanistan to rubble? It is already rubble from more than twenty years of war. Are we going to reduce the children of Palestine to abject poverty and misery? They are already poor beyond any degree that we would ever accept for our children. Are we going to create friends in this world for my Adam by killing their relatives? No, we will only create more hate and a bitterness that Adam will inherit as his legacy. Do not misunderstand me. I am a political scientist by profession and I am not naive about our need to protect ourselves from the monsters that threaten us. I know absolutely that they would have put a nuclear weapon in Time Square if they could have, killing a hundred thousand times the number of people that died on September 11th. I am simply saying that force alone, and hate alone, are insufficient to resolve this problem. There are those on television who say that we, all over the world, have been complacent about this danger to our values and way of life. I agree that this has been the case. We have, all of us, been equally complacent about the conditions that have given rise to this vein of hate in the midst of the benign world of the Muslim faith. We have ignored the conditions that breed such hate because we have not the will on a worldwide scale to address these conditions. I am now not speaking simply of America because America has always done its fair share of trying to improve conditions in other parts of the world. I am speaking of the entire industrial world that has grown rich from our values, beliefs and resources only to have millions of other people mired in the most abysmal conditions of poverty and degradation. When we look back on World War II, it is easy in America to view that war as a triumph of our courage and military might. It is equally easy to overlook the fact that it was not the war that saved Japan and Europe in the end. The War reduced those societies to rubble, and it was rubble that the survivors and we inherited. What saved Europe and Japan, and their children, was the Marshall Plan, one of the single most unselfish acts ever undertaken by a victorious combination of armies. As the sole remaining prosperous Country in the world, the United States mobilized huge financial and other resources to put those defeated societies back on their feet. We did not let them starve; we fed them instead. We did not let their children die; we rebuilt their schools instead. In the end, we prevailed not because of our military might, which we certainly needed, but because of our generosity in the face of monstrous losses in human life. Yes, we did this in order to protect our military victory in the face of a growing threat from communism. But we are faced with the same choice here; only we have the opportunity to make this choice before we reduce a lot of societies to further rubble and poverty. We have the whole of the civilized world today looking for a way to prosecute this war against fanaticism and religious extremism. Some of our allies in Europe and Asia will undoubtedly flinch in the face of the costs of a prolonged and bloody effort to eradicate this disease of the spirit, and we may well find ourselves going it more and more alone. Moderate states in the Middle East and the forces of modernity in those societies will be faced with a backlash that will limit the long-term effectiveness of our efforts. Our friends in these countries may lose the very support that they will require to support us, and they themselves could fall victim to the forces we are trying to eradicate. There is simply not enough military force in the West to impose a solely military solution on that region short of using nuclear weapons, which we will not employ. In fact, military force alone is precisely the course that the fanatics want us to choose, because they believe, perhaps quite rightly, that they will be the winners in the rubble of the Middle Eastern states that follow such a strategy. . I want a solution that preserves and enhances the world for Adam, and for all of the Adams in the Middle East and elsewhere. While I believe as fervently as every American that we must track down and eliminate this threat using every resource of force at our disposal, I think we are going to have go further and spend much more of our resources in a simultaneous effort that commits hundreds of billions of dollars to the cause of raising the economic standards of the people of the Middle East and even elsewhere. The moment is here. The choice is ours to make. The emotional commitment to a permanent solution to terrorism is present nearly everywhere in the civilized world. Before we kill a single person, I want the United States to commit one hundred billion dollars to a fund dedicated to the elimination of poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance in the Middle East. I want our President and our political leaders to challenge the Europeans, the Japanese, the rich countries of the Middle East and elsewhere to triple these funds using their own resources. Together, much as we did with European and Japanese leaders after World War II, we will make these funds available to reduce the crushing debt in these societies, build schools and homes, fed the hungry, eliminate disease, and otherwise attack the conditions that gave birth to such a deep vein of hatred in these societies. Four hundred billion dollars seems a lot of money, but it is a small price compared with the more than four trillion dollars that the United States spent prosecuting World War II. For the countries that want this support, the price will be a concerted long-term effort to eradicate the forces of hate that are breeding inside their societies. We cannot do this by killing them all, and we cannot do this as outsiders and modern day Crusaders. However, we can give their leadership the resources to do it themselves, not in the name of some foreign faith, but in the name of the humanity of the true Islam. Will the leaders of the Middle East need our military support while they undertake this huge task? You bet they will and they will be the first to realize this. The fanatics understand as well as we do that our love and concern will undermine their efforts to destroy the world in which we live. They want to create conditions that will destabilize all of the nations of Islam, and they want us to do what they cannot accomplish. They want more rubble, starving children and grieving parents because it furthers their perverted cause. They think we are too stupid and self-centered to be more clever and creative than they are. I remember well during the Marshall Plan the efforts of the communists to undermine our rebuilding efforts with the contention that we were only doing it to serve ourselves. Their argument failed completely. As the schools are built, the children fed, and the homes constructed, adults in all of these societies will simply be grateful that someone finally cared enough to attack their suffering. The voices of hate will confront a growing chorus of Islamic people committed to the gentle and loving faith of Islam, and the fanatics will find a world in which acceptance of their philosophy of hate will have fewer and fewer takers. Given support on this scale, the leaders of the Middle East will have the support required to track down and eliminate those who would kill so many innocents. I started with Adam, and I love him dearly. But loving Adam is not enough. Hate will not provide Adam with a world that I would want to leave to him; not for him and all the Adams in the world - the two year olds and others who will be the final judge of whether we passed this terrible test. As we ponder our options, let us reach out to a prosperous world and demand something more of everyone. While we may well ask for their military support, let us demand their humanitarian support on a scale and at a level unprecedented in human history. This is the first challenge we should throw down and not the last; thrown down before we have mobilized all of the bombs and rockets that we can so easily produce. Let us make this challenge now before we expend the arsenal of hate and revenge that the terrorists want us to mobilize. America is an enormously generous, humane and decent society, and we can demonstrate those traits with a gesture that will make all of the Adams in this world proud of our generation. They know we have the courage to fight for them. Let us show them that we also have the wisdom to win this war in a manner that leaves the world a better place and not a bitter place. *********************** Gordon S. Black, Ph.D., is currently the Chairman and CEO of a public company. The company is unidentified because he writes this as a private citizen. Dr. Black has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and his Doctorate in Political Science from Stanford University. He was an Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Rochester at the time he resigned to start his own firm. Between 1986 and 1993, the was the unpaid Director of Research for the Partnership for a Drug Free America, resulting in two White House presentations of research findings on the subject. In 1994, he and his son Benjamin published The Politics of American Discontent (John Wiley and Sons), an analysis of the potential and the logic of a third party in American Politics. He is an Independent not affiliated with either political party.