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franklin county times

Bravo, Spain!

By By Zeke Calhoun / guest columnist
March 28, 2004
In a bold move that I hope will be echoed by Americans this November, Spanish voters last week dramatically dumped their current president in favor of a candidate who opposed the war in Iraq and promised to stop antagonizing Islamic terrorists.
As usual, Europeans are way ahead of Americans when it comes to using brains instead of brawn to deal with diplomacy.
Europeans are smart enough to know that the biggest danger to world peace isn't Islamic fundamentalism but rather the power and arrogance of the United States.
Once we understand that terrorists are only acting to defend their culture and religion from the democracy and hegemony of the West, we'll be able to take reasonable steps to alleviate their concerns and bring about peace in our time.
When we are finally willing to make ourselves less threatening to the Islamic world, I believe that they will respect our good intentions, disavow terrorism, and live at peace in the global village. It's time we Americans began looking to Europe, not Israel, for our example of how to deal with terrorism.
Mark my words, Israel's assassination of Sheik Yassin, the founder of Hamas, will bring only more bloodshed and hatred to the Holy Land. So instead of killing the leaders of terrorist organizations like Hamas and al-Queda, I suggest that the United States try a different approach altogether.
Since Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders enjoy enormous popular support throughout the entire Arab world and obviously represent the feelings of tens of millions of Moslems, why not treat them with the same dignity and respect given to leaders of other nationalist movements?
I'm sure that if terrorists had a peaceful forum to air out their grievances against the United States, they wouldn't feel pressured into violence. It's certainly unfair to give George Bush and Colin Powell an open microphone at the U.N. while denying the same opportunity to Osama Bin Laden.
In addition to establishing meaningful dialogue with terrorists, I also believe that Western governments should make a show of good faith by reducing the size of our militaries and bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. American military power and presence is an affront to the pride of Middle Eastern peoples and a continual source of bitterness and resentment among the rest of the world as well.
Just think of the impact it would have on history if America, the world's only superpower, would beat its swords into plowshares and pursue military and economic parity with the Third World. Such a beautiful gesture would surely melt the heart of even the most hard-hearted dictators and inspire them to disarm as well.
But even if it didn't and the whole world were one day ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, would that really be worse than a globe dominated by the United States? Granted, women would have no rights and there would be no more free elections, but are democracy and civil rights really worth risking a war over?
America's preachy attitudes about human rights got us into the Civil War, both World Wars, and now the War on Terror. Isn't it time we chose peace over freedom?
And who's to say that Judeo-Christian Western Civilization is in the right, anyway? Aren't all religions equally valid? Don't all religious roads lead to heaven?
So what if the next time George Bush threw a war, no one came? Members of the vast right wing conspiracy would call it appeasement, but I'd call it just plain smart.
Zeke Calhoun is Craig Ziemba's liberal cousin.

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