By Aidan Clarke, Contributor
There is a reactionary tendency that runs deeply in all of us. It is amongst our most basic of human impulses — you have hurt me, therefore, I must hurt you.
It means that when when we perceive or witness injustice, such as when terrorists strike, we feel we must react.
However, this response misses the point. This response, though it may make us feel better at the moment, is akin to treating the symptoms as opposed to the disease at the root of them.
After 9/11, we succumbed to this streak, and now are counting the cost. Over 7,000 American lives lost, and 2.4 trillion dollars spent. Yet American national security has not been improved and radical jihadist terrorism does not seem to be anywhere near finished.
Radical jihadist terrorism became popular because the secular Arab governments of the Middle East were failing their citizens. Poor Arabs starved while they watched their massive armies roll around parade grounds before the powerful elites. Palestinian refugees in particular felt abandoned by their Arab brothers, who had no interest in intervening on their behalf. They suffered in refugee camps and under military laws with little to no prospects for a future.
Then came Hamas. While we may know Hamas for popularizing suicide bombers and car bombs, for a time it was a breath of fresh air in the region. Governments and secularism had failed the Palestinians, so it is only natural that they should turn to religion to provide for them.
Hamas built schools and hospitals which provided structure and security. In addition, they gave a generation of youth a cause to rally behind. All the while the sinister hooks of jihadist radicalism dug deeper into this lost and forgotten group. The refugees, seeing no better option, joined Hamas and became pawns of these fundamentalist murderers.
This is a story that has been echoed across history. It can be found in the rise of the Nazis, the Bolsheviks, the IRA and FARC, in addition to the other Jihadist groups such as Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and of course, ISIS.
The typical response to terrorist groups is to use military forces to crush them. However, in a rebel ideology, being crushed provides the martyrdom needed to gain a lasting legacy. It is almost impossible to defeat an ideology with military force. To quote Henry Kissinger, “the Guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.”
The answer to stopping terrorism is good governance. By providing a secure life, one can pursue success. Where that is not possible, the groundwork for economic growth must be laid primarily through the means of education. The One Foundation and Techo are two shining examples of nonprofits taking the correct approach to liberating fellow citizens from poverty.
This cannot be achieved through the force of arms. In the 1930’s Will Rogers said, “It may surprise some people in Washington, D.C., to find that many people in other countries are more comfortable having an imperfect government of their own rather than having a perfect one foisted on them by us, by Marines.” While I may be labelled a RINO for expressing these views, the above quote is a favorite of our Secretary of Defense, Gen. Jim Mattis. Furthermore, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told his troops “Every time you disrespect an Iraqi, you’re working for the enemy.”
If the United States truly wants to see a long term end to terrorism in the Middle East it must create economic growth in the region. The Marshall Plan prevented communist revolutions in Western Europe in the fifties and a similar program would have a similar effect on the jihadist movements that have hijacked Islam and exploited its followers. Now, with a great power competition on the horizon, the U.S. must take this course of action in order to free up military resources for handling new revisionist threats from the People’s Republic of China.