November 21, 1997
Return to this forum's introduction.
Questions answered in this forum:
Wouldn't it have been better to remove the American inspectors? What do Arab nations think of America's peace keeping objectives now? Who would be impacted most by an unrestricted Saddam Hussein ? Why is U.S. foreign policy so inconsistent? How would the U.N. have reacted to a U.S. military strike? Viewer comments?
Naresh Fernandes of New York, NY asks:
Why is the U.S. foreign policy so inconsistent in its position of so-called "terrorist" states? If American claims to be the guardian of democracy and the enemy of extremism, why doesn't it lump Israel with such states as Iraq and Libya. The recent (thankfully botched) attempt by the Mossad to murder a Palestinian leader was ordered at the highest levels of government. Why didn't the action immediately warrant a retaliatory bombing of Tel Aviv?
Amb. Alvin P. Adams of UNA-USA responds:
Although the U.S. does not condone Israel's recent attack against the Hamas leader, this attack does not justify labeling Israel a "terrorist state." The man who was attacked is not a "Palestinian leader," but rather a leading member of Hamas, a proven Palestinian terrorist organization. Hamas has admitted carrying out numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians with grotesque, murderous results. These attacks have succeeded in part in disrupting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel, in a misguided action, sought to assassinate the Hamas leader as part of its ongoing effort to defang the Hamas terrorist threat.
Israel's actions are not those of a terrorist state comparable to the likes of Iraq or Lybia. These countries are believed to regularly carry out assassination campaigns against 'enemies' of the state and domestic political critics, as well as to give sanctuary to international terrorist organizations. For instance, over the years Iraq has engaged in systematic killings of its own peoples, including Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq. It has also been involved in many assassinations of its political opponents in foreign countries. And in 1996, evidence was uncovered that Saddam Hussein was plotting to assassinate former President George Bush while on a trip to Kuwait. With respect to Libya, the United States and Britain have strong evidence linking the Libyan Government to the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 which killed 270 people.
There is a significant difference between initiating terrorism abroad against one's political opponents and slaughtering one's own people at home, on the one hand, and defending oneself and one's country against terrorist threats, on the other hand. While one may not agree with Israel's recent actions against the Hamas leader, neither this incident nor Israel's conduct at home or abroad amount to the actions of a "terrorist state."
John Bolton of American Enterprise Institute responds:American policy toward all governments in the world must be based on judgments about the best interests of our country, derived from prolonged experience and understanding, and formulated with long-term goals in mind. With rare exceptions, no one event can completely determine our outlook. Libya and Iraq are two of the most profoundly isolated rogue regimes in the world, and deservedly so. When they stop supporting terrorist acts and aggression against their neighbors, U.S. policy will change accordingly.
Yahya Sadowski of The Brookings Institution responds:The technical meaning of "terrorist" is an individual or organization who deliberately targets innocent civilians as part of a strategy of political pressure. In Washington the definition of a "terrorist" has long referred to any enemy of the United States who deliberately targets innocent civilians. Thus, in the 1980s when Afghan Mujahidin shot down a civilian airliner as part of their campaign against the Russians, they were not denounced as terrorists. When the Moroccan secret police assassinate political dissidents abroad, they are not branded as terrorists.
This U.S. stance is certainly hypocritical. Of course, hypocrisy is not all that rare in politics. Still, this hypocrisy or inconsistency is one of the reasons many countries, including some of our closer European allies, have been reluctant to follow America's attempts to launch an international crusade against terrorism.
Next: How would the U.N. have reacted to a U.S. military strike?