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Washington Interventionism Causes Terrorism
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Some Blame Terror on Interventionism
By George Gedda
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999; 1:23 a.m. EST (WASHINGTON POST)
WASHINGTON Clinton administration officials need look no further
than their own foreign policy in their search for explanations for the
specter of possible end-of-the-millennium terrorist attacks against
Americans, some foreign policy analysts say.
They are advancing this thesis as airport security is being tightened and
officials are admonishing Americans at home and abroad to be on the
lookout for anything suspicious in the waning days of 1999. Officials
believe suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, a Saudi exile who is wanted
for the bombings at two U.S. embassies in East Africa last year, may be
preparing to strike.
Ivan Eland, a defense specialist at the libertarian Cato Institute, says the
unprecedented concern among Americans about terrorism is the result of
the "profligate U.S. interference in the business of other nations and
"What does the average American get from U.S. meddling in far-flung
corners of the world that do not remotely affect U.S. vital interests?"
Eland asks. "A much lighter wallet and an increasing uneasiness when
traveling abroad or even when participating in large public celebrations at
Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan also subscribes to this
"Have we not suffered enough terrorist atrocities from the massacre of
our Marines (1983 in Lebanon), to Pan Am 103 (1988), to the World
Trade Center (1993), to the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar (es
Salaam, 1998) to awaken our elites to the reality that interventionism is
the incubator of terrorism?" Buchanan said in a speech last month. "Or will
it take some cataclysmic act of violence on U.S. soil to finally awaken our
gamesmen to the costs of global hegemony?"
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the majority of the foreign
policy establishment believe that the United States must not shrink from
the use of force to protect what they perceive as the national interest.
They argue that, left unchecked, threats to democracy, even in distant
lands, will come back to haunt the United States.
World War II could have been avoided and millions of lives spared if the
industrial democracies had stood up to Adolph Hitler in the late 1930s,
President Clinton justified the use of force by NATO against Yugoslavia
this past spring by warning that to do otherwise could risk a war
encompassing the other Balkan countries and possibly matching NATO
allies Greece and Turkey on opposite sides of the conflict.
Richard Betts, a political science professor at Columbia University, said
the U.S.-led intervention in Kosovo was a mistake because it alienated
countries that "matter a lot more Russia and China."
Betts, like Buchanan, rejects the label of isolationist. He said the
administration has had the habit of intervening where it shouldn't but not
where it should. He said the United States could have headed off
genocide in Rwanda in 1994 through timely intervention.
On whole, he said, the administration has been incautious about its foreign
commitments. "There are few foreign groups that want to do us harm
unless they see that the U.S. wants to frustrate their ambitions," he said.
Betts acknowledged that forswearing intervention will not be a cure-all
because resentment will persist among some groups because of the
continuing spread of American culture.
Also in the anti-interventionist cabal, not surprisingly, is Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi, who said on CBS Tuesday it was little wonder to him
that the United States was facing holiday terrorism threats.
"The U.S. government is hated. ... All the people in the world are against
it, therefore there is a threat," he said.
Disputing Gadhafi, State Department spokesman James Foley said the
United States is seen "as a beacon of liberty around the world."
He said terrorists oppose an "open and free society" and also respond to
regional crises. "In the Middle East, it is obvious that there are enemies of
the peace process, those who do not want to see a final reconciliation and
a peace agreement between Israel and Israel's neighbors," he said.
The goal of the terrorists, he added, is to prevent the United States from
continuing to facilitate the peace process.
"We are not going to be intimidated," Foley said.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press
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