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War on Terror and Human Behavior

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Message sameh abdelaziz
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Human behavior is usually predictable. We know for example that a child growing up in a healthy environment has better chances of success as an adult. The Mars and Venus metaphor reflects the fact that Men and women are different. Socioeconomics is widely accepted in explaining success rates at different school districts. In these cases and many others, scientists using statistical models prove that for every cause, there is an effect and our conscious accepts on different levels the clear evidence.

However, when it comes to international policies somehow all the human accumulative knowledge disappears.

We accept that boys and girls living in different neighborhoods will be different, but our think tanks and administration provide plans to fight terrorism and extremism through creating American democracy identical to ours, thousands of miles away, and the means selected to plant this strange body are bombs!

Such plans look magnificent on paper; but with no regard to differences in culture, life experiences, history, traditions or socioeconomics, is it even possible?

We are a great nation and a successful one. The generous offer to extend our wonderful democratic system, built on market forces and individualism to third world nations is a once in a lifetime opportunity to these crazy hungry sick people and they turn it down.

The people in the Middle East did not turn our offer down; it failed because it is unrealistic goal that contradicts all that we know. It failed because we cannot enforce our history or believe system on different people, we have enough troubles enforcing it on our kids.

After five long years, three thousand precious lives lost, and over twenty thousand lives altered by serious injuries, after four hundred billion dollars wasted the president announced we are not succeeding and he is offering a new strategy.

The real concern I have is the new and old strategies are the same. The plan is to throw more young lives in the fire to maintain unattainable dream of creating American democracy in Iraq.

Humankind knew terror throughout history, but until the very early years of the eighties, it had a secular face. The Irish, Palestinians and South Africans engaged many of the tools we call terrorism in their national struggles.

Therefore, Islamic terrorism is actually very young and started only in the late seventies. A quick search on the net would produce hundreds of supporting documents explaining the coordinated role of US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan in promoting and supporting an extremist interpretation of the Muslims religion, which advocates using arms to defend the land and religion of Islam. This intentionally created ideology helped recruit thousands of young and disparate people looking for an alternative to their unfulfilling life and insecure future.

The new ideology was an essential weapon in accelerating the Soviet Union defeat, and ending the cold war.

Throughout the late seventies and early eighties, our media outlets as well as our government portrayed the extremists as freedom fighters. All our star terrorists such as Osama, Ayman and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman were the product of this era.

Understanding this history is extremely important in winning our war on terror for several reasons. The short history of the movement indicates that the extremism is a foreign body and not in the core beliefs of the religion. The fact that these fanatics played a role in the demise of the Soviet Union (super power) proves that arms cannot defeat ideologies.

Our war on terror as it is fought currently provides endless ammunitions to the extremists in their campaign to recruit new suicide bombers and fighters. Every time there is a child, a woman, or an old man we call a collateral damage, it is one more picture on the internet proving our savagery and hatred to Muslims.

A new strategy would require a real understanding of two basic concepts. First, people are the sons and daughters of their cultures and this does not mean they are good or bad, they are different. Secondly, changing ideas can only happen through competing ideas and dialogue.

The president's new strategy fails on the two accounts, and the only outcome will be repeating the same mistakes of the last five years.

On the other hand, the Iraq Study Group recommendation represents a viable option that addresses the complex problem on hand. Can the president explain to the American people why the ISG will not work? Can he at least admit that doing the same things will likely produce the same results?
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I am an Egyptian American born in Alexandria. I immigrated to the US in the late eighties, during this time lived in many places in US and Europe. I work as an IT manager and love it. I love to travel, it makes me feel young, and it awakes in me (more...)
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