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Leading U.S. institutions support groups opposing a U.S. military response
By Amy Ridenour
Most Americans want to make the terrorists pay. A group of Americans, connected with prestigious organizations, churches and philanthropies, is promoting a policy that instead would make terrorism pay off. At issue is a petition being circulated by Foreign Policy in Focus, a joint project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Interhemispheric Resource Center.
The petition opposes a major U.S. military response, calling upon the U.S. to fight terrorism by using international agencies to apprehend terrorists and bring them to justice before international (not U.S.) courts. It would delay increasing the powers and budgets of our national security agencies, pending a time- consuming investigation into how the terrorists have been able to operate here.
And it recommends solving the terrorism problem by "addressing the policies, circumstances and grievances that spark terrorist responses, particularly against America." In other words, it tells America to stop doing the things that made the terrorists kill so many of us.
The authors of the petition are foreign policy experts, yet they don't realize what the non-experts understand: we didn't do this to ourselves. Jay Leno put it well: "Some people say, 'maybe we did something.' We didn't. We got sucker punched."
Everybody wants justice, but the idea that we can stop terrorism by promoting justice is boneheaded. Osama bin Laden's idea of justice isn't the same as ours. Take bin Laden's apparent #1 beef: we sent soldiers to Saudi Arabia to rescue Kuwait and protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein, whom bin Laden didn't even like. Our soldiers didn't go there for fun. Most of them couldn't wait to get out of the place.
Bin Laden associates with the Taliban, which punishes men who don't wear beards, persons who educate girls over eight and women who walk down the street without a male relative, even if the women are covered, head to toe. That's bin Laden "justice" for you.
No, we won't be stopping terrorism by endorsing this.
The IPS and IRC aren't new kids on the block. The IPS has been issuing opinions (mostly, that the U.S. is nearly always wrong, and that we shouldn't use our military) for 37 years, the IRC, for 22 years. Their views are not mainstream. Yet they receive support from prominent organizations: the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Worldwatch Institute, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Ted Turner's Turner Foundation, the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United Methodist Church, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Dominican Sisters, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Men's Wearhouse.
It is unlikely that all those who support the FPIF/IPS/IRC agree with them today. Although an AFL- CIO representative sits on the IRC board and on the FPIF Advisory Committee, and the IPS lists the AFL-CIO and its member union AFSCME as donors, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney swiftly offered President Bush the union's support. Sweeney knows Bush plans military action. AFSCME's website displays a red, white and blue banner: "Mourn for the Dead; Fight for the Living" hardly pacifistic. AFSCME, like other AFL- CIO unions, lost members in the terrorist attacks.
More than one member of the Air Line Pilots Association, an AFL-CIO union, has been interviewed. None I saw called for a peaceful response to the murderous use of their workplace. Likewise it cannot be presumed that most Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists support this petition.
The National Council of Churches, an umbrella group to which all three denominations belong, is circulating its own petition that does not condemn a U.S. military response, merely counseling that America should act from motives other than anger and vengeance.
The FPIF/IPS/IRC has a combined 64-year history opposing U.S. military action. Those who work with them, sit on their boards and fund them must know what they believe. It may be that the organizations supporting the FPIF, IPS and IRC changed their views on September 11. If so, we can expect them to repudiate this petition.
Americans who oppose military action are entitled to their opinion, but those who support it should withdraw from political efforts opposing such action.
The seriousness of the issue demands clarity.
Amy Ridenour is the president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. © 2001 NCPPR.
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