Both the presidential contenders are spewing rhetoric about "hunting down and killing the terrorists." Mr. Bush, I assume, is professing what he really believes. Mr. Kerry is attempting to court the "eye-for-an-eye" vote. It’s a shame that neither candidate is willing to concede that there is more, much more, to dealing with 21st century terrorism than sallying forth all over the world, hunting down and killing anyone with terrorist notions. Haven’t we seen with our own eyes that this is not the thing to do?
Think back to the movie Fantasia. The segment where Mickey Mouse is portrayed as "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice." He charms a broom into carrying water pails for him, then falls asleep. You know the rest…Mickey awakes to find himself ankle deep in water that the broom has fetched. He tries and tries to "disenchant" the broom. Finally, he resorts to hacking it apart with an axe. He’s dusting off his hands and walking away, when every sliver of the broom starts to vibrate, stand upright, and then turn into a clone of the broom itself, each with two buckets, each malevolently dipping water and heaving it into the cistern in the sorcerer’s cavern, until a tidal wave overwhelms Mickey and washes him away. Think of the broom as the terrorists. Think of Mickey as the US Government—or any agency that pits itself against the terrorist network. Israel comes to mind…
When Ariel Sharon came to power almost four years ago, he instituted a policy of violence for violence. For every spectacular suicide bombing on a bus or in a market in Israel, Sharon would order a military strike against Palestinian targets. Ostensibly focusing on neighborhoods or buildings where terrorists were quartered. The Sharon years have fostered nothing but a continuing escalation of the violence between Israel and the Palestinians. More and more "collateral" damage as the desperate Palestinians and the stalwart Israelis battle to the death.
In short, the violence doesn’t work. Retribution blows up in your face. An attempt to kill the terrorists begets two, or twelve, or twenty, for every one slain. Who then take four, or four hundred, or four thousand more lives in their quest for "paradise." Is this an effective policy? Is it the way to end the killing?
Revenge. Violence for violence. Revenge feels so good. It feels so right. So righteous. Especially when surveying the bodies of thousands of Americans, violently murdered at their desks, or in their airline seats. Or rushing to the aid of their fellow citizens. Innocent, peaceful people, snuffed out with no warning on a sunny September morning three years ago.
We have to make the hard choice. Have to concede that these people, these innocent loved ones, are gone. There is no bringing them back. The murderers, the ones that held the guns, looked into their eyes and pulled the triggers, were incinerated along with their victims. The network that spawned them has sunk deep underground. We can’t just storm all over the globe and "kill" the terrorists. And if we could, what would that solve? Our focus needs to be on the four hundred or four thousand or four million possible future victims. How do we prevent them from becoming victims? How do we save their lives?
The answer is…I don’t know. All I know is, we’ve tried violence. We’ve tried murder. We’ve tried "an eye for an eye." We’ve even gone so far as to invade a country halfway across the world just because it was halfway across the world—as far as possible from our precious shores--and was home to the same ethnic group as the people responsible for the terrorist incident perpetrated on our home soil. Just to appease our overwhelming hunger for revenge. It’s time, now, to take a step back and consider what our next move must be. Research the root causes of the terrorist movement. Try to change the culture of hopelessness and violence that causes people to glorify the unknown of death over the certainty of a miserable life. Quit searching for the "instant fix" that will turn out to be anything but. And, above all, stop the killing. What other way is there to put an end to the ever-escalating cycle of violence?