General Advice

Joel Bleifuss

Retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, who skewered the Pentagon’s Iraqi war plans on the op-ed page of the April 2 New York Times, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last September. His advice to the Senate, which went unreported at the time, bears repeating. He said in part:War on terrorism is perhaps a useful slogan, but terrorism is not an ideology or a political movement or a sovereign country; it is a technique used to achieve either a political or military result, not unlike strategic bombing. While I am in no way condoning the activities of al-Qaeda and the terrorist attacks … it is still important to look beyond this activity to find what are the causative factors. … What is at stake are the minds and hearts of the 1 billion Muslims throughout the world. … Their quarrel with the United States is that they do not trust our government. The reason for this is a pattern of behavior perpetrated by the U.S. government in South Asia and the Middle East over the last 20 years. They believe the U.S. government has acted unilaterally, sometimes as a bully, and has sometimes used other nations for its own interests and abandoned them when the objective has been achieved. Most importantly, they believe the U.S. has unjustly supported Israel over the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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