Ending the War on Terrorism MAG

July 28, 2009
By Kelsey Freeman BRONZE, Carbondale, Colorado
Kelsey Freeman BRONZE, Carbondale, Colorado
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Since 9/11, fighting terrorism has become a top priority in our nation. Each year, the U.S. spends billions of dollars on the war in Iraq, attempting to dismantle the extremist groups that threaten us. However, we have had troops in Iraq for eight years and still terrorist groups continue to operate.

People in 22 of the 23 countries ­surveyed believe that the war in Iraq hasn't weakened the terrorist group al-Qaeda, according to a global poll by the BBC World Service. If eight years of war have had little effect on terrorism, it's obvious that America needs a new approach. To truly work toward a solution, we must help stabilize Muslim countries associated with terrorist networks. The most effective way to fight terrorism in the Middle East is to help these countries create a thriving economy, a functional government, and a successful educational system.

The war in Iraq is a temporary attempt at solving the problem of terrorism. Even if troops disable certain terrorist groups, they can't prevent new ones from forming. In fact, military suppression of a country tends to lead to more support for extremist groups. “Building a gauntlet of security around the U.S. and pounding Muslims into submission isn't going to make the world any safer,” wrote journalist Todd Wilkinson in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

To truly work through the issue of terrorism, America must look at its roots. Extremist groups exist in every religion. It is only when these groups gain power that they become dangerous. This tends to occur when a country is unstable. For example, after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Taliban took control of the region. If America provides support to countries experiencing instability, we will help prevent terrorist groups from taking power.

According to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007, “Extremism, militancy, terrorism and dictatorship feed off one another in an environment of poverty, hopelessness and economic disparity among social classes.” Therefore, in order to disarm terrorism, we must combat these factors.

The first step to accomplishing this is to support the creation of educational systems that allow children to rise above the social and economic situation of their parents. Today, ­Pakistan spends 1,400 percent more on its military budget than on education, according to Bhutto in her book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. As a result, poor communities that don't have access to schools either go uneducated or turn to militant schools, known as madrassas. In the words of Bhutto, “From illiteracy and poverty stem hopelessness and from hopelessness come desperation and extremism.”

Some militant madrassas are seen as breeding grounds for terrorists because rather than focusing on education, they “manipulate religion to brainwash children” into soldiers, according to Bhutto. The U.S. needs to take the first step in providing international support to help Pakistan and other Islamic governments prioritize spending on education. In doing so, it would begin to prevent extremism. “There's nothing which disarms hatred more thoroughly than the promise of attaining a better life through peace,” according to Wilkinson.

Strengthening education in the Middle East will also boost local economies. When educated children surpass the economic status of their parents, a middle class is created. Micro loan programs can also aid the creation of a middle class, which is ­essential to a strong workforce and a stable country.

A strong middle class is also essential for a successful democracy. While the U.S. should not force democracy on any country, by supporting stable, civil governments, we can keep terrorist networks from moving into power. In Saudi Arabia in 2007, a woman who had been gang raped was ­sentenced by the government to 60 lashes and six months in jail. Stability cannot exist in this type of unjust government. As the book Enhancing Peace insightfully articulates, “Letting social inequities and injustices fester provides a rich breeding ground for terrorists.”

There is currently a strong sense in the Muslim world that the West wishes to impose its values on other societies and undermine Islamic culture. Many moderate Muslims see the global war on terror as a war on Islam, according to Bhutto. This is not the image that will help the U.S. build allies.

America needs to build a strong relationship with the Middle East to combat terrorism. When we earn the trust of moderate Muslims, we can join with them to overthrow extremist groups. This method aided the U.S. immensely during the war in Afghan­istan when we sided with the Northern Alliance (the anti-Taliban coalition made up of several Islamic ethnic groups) to overthrow the Taliban.

How can we create the type of dramatic change in perception that's needed? The answer is to invest against terrorism by stabilizing the Middle East. As Bhutto wrote, “When ordinary people identify assistance improving their lives and the lives of their children, they bond with the source of that aid.” This type of connection could bring a dramatic turnaround in perceptions of America. In fact, substantial evidence supports this. After the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan that killed 90,000 people, the U.S. donated half a billion dollars for reconstruction, and American soldiers delivered assistance to freezing and starving survivors. A poll conducted by ACNielsen immediately afterward showed that favorable views of the U.S. increased by over 50 percent. The same poll indicated “a precipitous drop in support for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” according to Bhutto. Direct and visible support from the U.S. creates dramatic changes in perceptions over a short period of time.

Creating and supporting organizations that stabilize the Middle East should be regarded by the U.S. as long-term investments against terrorism. Through the Marshall Plan, implemented in Europe after World War II, the U.S. spent about $13 billion to aid the recovery of European countries. The modern-day equivalent of that amount is about $185 billion. This money could be spent on rebuilding the Middle East, and if this cost were shared by North America, the European Union, Japan and China, the U.S. would contribute just $37 billion, compared to the estimated $2 trillion for the war in Iraq by the time it has ended.

But a solution shouldn't just be about writing checks. It should be about Americans working with Iraqi citizens to support visible, clear, and direct programs that give people what they need. This type of solution not only makes sense for the U.S. but is morally right. To paraphrase Greg Mortenson – who has spent the last decade building schools in Afghan­istan and Pakistan – money can fund wars; it can also prevent them.



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This article has 85 comments.


John said...
on Jun. 4 2010 at 3:18 pm
 Well written article but I disagree with the practicality of such matters. The author states that the war on terrorism should be replaced with an effort to stabilize the Muslim countries in the Middle East by creating “a thriving economy, a functional government, and a successful educational system.” While this would be good, this is very unpractical and is, in essence, what the soldiers in Iraq right now are doing. The problem is that these countries are very unstable and torn by strong religious strife and conflict between the Sunni and Shi’a sects of Islam. Our presence in Iraq is an attempt to stabilize the country, but outbursts of violence due to extreme instability hinders it. It is not possible to attempt to stabilize countries such as Iraq without an American presence there. Because the governments of such countries cannot promote order and stability on their own due to a lack of power and a lack of an adequate police force, American troops must step in if any sort of stability is to be achieved.

jdeluca GOLD said...
on Jun. 4 2010 at 12:39 am
jdeluca GOLD, Bedford, New York
11 articles 0 photos 7 comments
Israel and Pakistan have been in a fight for hundreds of years over a piece of crappy land, the gaza strip. I don't understand why they want to have that land. I'm a little unclear on the topic can someone explain to me why each country wants the land? I know it has to do a bit with religion but I still need more information...

jdeluca GOLD said...
on Jun. 4 2010 at 12:35 am
jdeluca GOLD, Bedford, New York
11 articles 0 photos 7 comments
"For peace to prevail, war must ensue." wise words from a great founding father

on May. 29 2010 at 6:46 am
kandyraye SILVER, Parkton, North Carolina
6 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths that you take, but measured by the number of times your breath is taken away

I am currently serving on my 2nd tour to Iraq.... and I can most certainly say that we are waisting our time there. We rebuild schools and try to build relations with the local mayors of each province... but it does no good. You can't help a nation that wants no help. What America and our government is failing to realize is that all we are doing is delaying a civil war. The shiates and the sunnies are going to have their civil war. Other than the americans being nosey we had no grounds to invaid iraq. We are soo worried about the fact that we were attacked by terrorists on 9-11 that we have lost sight on what the real problem is. It was an extreme terrorist organization out of Afhghanisitan that attacked us, not alleged weapons of mass destruction from Iraq (which were never found!). We later discovered that it was american forces that trained the terrorists of 9-11. We trained them. And look what we are doing now!!! We are training the Iraqi force as we fight, as we train. Our thought process our procedures!!! If we are at war with them why are we building them up? Just as the U.S has "crooked" people in their forces, so do the iraqi forces. But we continue to shed our blood, spend our money to build their country up while ours falters. We have waisted so much money on trying to build cities and schools. We build them, they blow them up. We waist several million dollars a day in iraq.... I can think of several schools of our own that the money can be spent on, several of mouths on our soil that need to be fed.. instead we are helping a country that doesnt want help and isnt willing to help!!!

on Mar. 8 2010 at 6:50 pm
StanHubertson, Oak Park, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 29 comments
There was not a single Iraqi on the plane on 9/11

on Mar. 8 2010 at 6:49 pm
StanHubertson, Oak Park, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 29 comments
Here is how to end the war in the Middle East, the United States needs to stop invading countries and doing so for no grounds other than the desire for resources and to create an Imperialist Monarchy over limited supplies of oil etc.

on Mar. 8 2010 at 12:51 pm
Teenwriter BRONZE, Hancock, Maine
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments
To qoute Benjamin Franklin;

"For peace to prevail, war must ensue."

on Mar. 6 2010 at 5:41 am
angelic_powers BRONZE, Mumbai, Other
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Our own actions are for our security and not for others judgement....
we dont lead our lives for everybody's acceptance, god has granted everyone to be themselves so why miss a chance by being others....

I loved your article. it is accurate as it is based on facts. And your suggestions does shows that humanity stands first and just because of few extremist the whole community shouldnt suffer. Helping these countries by aidiing educational help and international support can really make life a better living for them and will help lot of people in Iraq, Afghanistan from not becoming the part of terrorism due to poverty..

justin said...
on Feb. 14 2010 at 7:24 am
The reason why it is not working is because Iraq is not the one who was behind the attack of 9/11. The initial reason for invading Iraq was because Bush though they have WMD. A few years after the war and Bush changed the cause of this war to War on Terrorism because they couldn't find any WMD. The 19 hijackers and the mastermind from 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and United Arab Emirate. None from Iraq. Their headquarter or training camps were not even from Iraq. So how can we win the war on terror when we are attacking the wrong place. We are probably creating more terrorists from this war.

june said...
on Feb. 14 2010 at 7:01 am
you guys have it all wrong of who attacked and who is attacking who in history and the present. First of all, it is the Palestinians that have conflicts with the Israelis. As for 9/11, there were a total of 19 hijackers. 15 of those hijackers were Saudi Arabian, 2 hijackers were United Arab Emirates, 1 hijacker was Egyptian and 1 hijacker was Lebanese. The mastermind of 9/11, Osama bin Ladin is Saudi Arabian. Please do not mix people up just because they are from around the same or surrounding regions. The Palestinians were not the people who attacked us during 9/11.

......... said...
on Feb. 3 2010 at 10:23 am
........., G, Minnesota
0 articles 0 photos 19 comments
thank you, you are so kind

on Feb. 3 2010 at 7:13 am
SaraRoxsHerSox SILVER, McVeytown, Pennsylvania
7 articles 0 photos 85 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Brochacho!"

I agree with MJBlack

MJBlack said...
on Jan. 31 2010 at 3:54 pm
The land that is called Israel was promised to the Jews by God, are you telling me that what mere men have to say about "borders" is more important then what God does?

on Jan. 31 2010 at 9:09 am
MJBlack, How long has Israel been a nation? who created the borders in the Middle East, and when were they created? Did Britain and the other members of the treaty of Paris actually consult with the existing leaders in the Arab world when they made their decisions or did the western nations arbitrarily create this area without the input from these "incapable children" ?

when you look at the real history of the region you can trace events of today back to the decisions made without Arab consent or input.

Skeezics GOLD said...
on Jan. 29 2010 at 4:07 pm
Skeezics GOLD, Eatonville, Washington
12 articles 0 photos 87 comments

Favorite Quote:
A childs voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who have forgotten how to listen.
Everyone faces obsticals. What defines you is how you overcome them. -J.R. Celski

Ya i do know that thank you very much. Thing is though this is as much our war as it is yours.

MJBlack said...
on Jan. 29 2010 at 11:46 am
you both seem to forget that America was at war with them before 9/11

MJBlack said...
on Jan. 29 2010 at 11:45 am
you seem to forget that you were at war with them before 9/11

Sciencefreak said...
on Jan. 28 2010 at 9:50 pm
I agree with skeezics. It was them who bombarded our towers with their jet and we are just trying to nail the idiots that nailed us first.

Skeezics GOLD said...
on Jan. 28 2010 at 9:39 pm
Skeezics GOLD, Eatonville, Washington
12 articles 0 photos 87 comments

Favorite Quote:
A childs voice, however honest and true, is meaningless to those who have forgotten how to listen.
Everyone faces obsticals. What defines you is how you overcome them. -J.R. Celski

Did you happen to forget that it was them who flew THEIR jet into OUR towers killing all of those people?

......... said...
on Jan. 7 2010 at 12:42 am
........., G, Minnesota
0 articles 0 photos 19 comments
I was born in Israel, The Land of Zion as some people call it, and most people would think that I should be greatful that America is "helping" us out. But I think that America should keep it's nose in it's own business, we've been fighting the same war with the Arabs for two thousand years, what makes Americans think that they can walk on in, fix everything, and then walk back out the heros? I'm not saying that I'm unfeeling towards those who are serving overseas, but they shouldn't have been there in the first place. It's alot of unnessecary bloodshed going on over there, and sending more soldiers over there, which the government is going to keep doing until it might as well be America over there, will not change that fact one tiny bit.


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