Bad Thinking

Like everyone else, I hate that people have to lose their lives in this war. I hate that it has to be fought, and I hate that so many people are unsupportive. But this statement from a CNN article on POWs drives me crazy:

"I feel action should be taken for terrorists, but I think the U.S. government only has itself to blame for terrorists feeling the way they do," he said. "(The United States) puts themselves in other people's business that they shouldn't have been in."

This is the epitome of bad thinking. It reminds me of the woman who is beat up by her husband, then says it is her fault because she makes him so mad.

It misses two important facts:

1. Relationships are not simple.

2. People choose how to respond to things.

With respect to point 1, it's easy to sit back now and say the U.S. is involved in too much. But as soon as we pull back, people will say we aren't involved enough. There is no perfect answer. People who think we can be involved in trade and business with other countries, but stay totally out of their political and economic matters are deluded. We could have responded to 9-11 by pulling our troops out of the Middle East, but with that would come a repeal of our aid to the area, and a stop to our pleas with Israel not to wipe out Palestine every time a few suicide bombings occur.

With respect to point 2 – Al Qaeda could have responded by attacking military targets. They could have staged protests. They could have educated and motivated the Arabs to move towards democracy, then elected people who agreed with their views. Those people then could deal with the things they don't like about the U.S. In other words, they could have responded differently. So I don't buy the notion that U.S. actions "caused" 9-11. Our actions may have caused hatred towards America, but that can manifest itself in many different ways.

People who espouse non-orthodox views need to realize they will be accepted more seriously when they do something worthy of respect. For instance – a drug legalization argument from a law scholar who doesn't even use the stuff has a lot bigger impact than a pro-legalization rally of burnout potheads who are wasting their lives away.

If groups like Al Qaeda want to change U.S. policy – they should do something a little more classy than kill innocent defenseless civilians.