Israel Report

September 2001         

Strike the Snake at its Head

By Tal Ben-Shahar - September 13, 2001
The principal responsibility for the heinous “Attack on America” rests on the shoulders of the Syrian, Afghan, Iranian and Iraqi governments and all those leaders who directly or indirectly, actively or passively, support terrorism. In order to prevent similar reprehensible crimes in the future, governments of the free world must use every means available to them to punish the dictators of states or groups who support terrorism.

The debate that is raging now is whether or not the attack was an act of state-sponsored terrorism. The solution to this debate is simple: No terrorist group can carry out an attack as large, as well coordinated and as sophisticated as the one we have just witnessed without, at the very least, having a safe sanctuary for training and planning. This sanctuary has to be state-sponsored.

Osama Bin Laden cannot have run his organization, as well as he does, without the support of Afghanistan’s government, which provides him the physical security to coordinate his operations. The Hezbollah cannot maintain an army without the aid of Syria and Iran. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are powerless without the support —financial or territorial — of Iraq, Syria and the PLO.

Condemnation by the Syrian government or a note of sympathy from the Taliban is nothing more than lip-service — too little, too late and too hypocritical to be taken seriously. It is because countries like Afghanistan and Syria lend their support to terrorist groups that such horrendous acts can take place. The governments of the free world must recognize that no terrorist group of any serious repute and capability can survive without state sponsorship.

Saddam Hussein, Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, Yasser Arafat of the PLO and the Taliban’s leader, Mulla Mohammad Omar, are as responsible for acts of terrorism as are Osama Bin Laden, Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and Ahmed Yassin of Hamas. All those on this illustrious list are at least as guilty as the suicide bomber who directed the plane into the World Trade Center. The murderers who pull the trigger, who plant bombs and who blow up people indiscriminately are guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Just as guilty of these crimes are those who mastermind the attacks, who recruit suicide bombers, who give the terrorist groups a safe haven. The dictators of state-sponsored terrorism must be brought to justice. Their guilt, too, is beyond reasonable doubt.

In order to understand how to fight the dictatorships that support terrorism we must understand the philosophy of the dictator. Fundamentally, the dictator does not have the interest of his people in mind, but his own. The dictator is not concerned about sending his blind followers to their death, using them as human shields or starving them. He does not really believe his own manipulative stories that a martyr is guaranteed eternal bliss and a place in heaven. Rather, he is after power, prestige and prosperity, here on earth. While his subjects live in dire poverty or give up their lives in the name of the cause, the dictator indulges in every imaginable earthly luxury.

This depraved, malignant creature responds only when his own livelihood is threatened. Economic sanctions can be only so effective, because it is the person on the street who suffers, while the dictator continues to live in comfort by squandering the money of his people. When the person on the street, tired of fighting and hardship, dares to complain and suggest another leader who will care about the people, he is immediately shut up with the full might of the dictator’s army. This is what happens, time and again, in dictatorships like Iraq, Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria.

Those who want to fight terrorism, with any measure of success, must fight it at its root and directly attack the dictator who supports terrorism. These dictators who make terrorism possible — who are its ultimate source — should be given a taste of their own medicine and experience terror. Only then will they learn, the hard way, to change their ways or suffer the consequences that the powerful governments of free countries are capable of inflicting.

For the good of the people living in the free world — and for the good of those living in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and every other terrorist-sponsoring dictatorship in the world — the United States and its allies must do everything in their power to dispose of the evil dictators.

The error that the free world is making by not focusing on the dictators behind terrorism is parallel to the fundamental error of communism. Marx and his followers argued that those who physically do the work (the laborers) deserve the majority of the wealth that their organization creates. Analogously, most people today argue that those who physically carry out the terror activities (the laborers) or those who send them, should be made to bear the majority of the punishment.

Under capitalism, in contrast, the owner of the means of production — the mastermind, landlord, inventor or investor — gets the principal portion of the profits. Reward is commensurate with levels of contribution. No business organization could exist, let alone generate wealth, without the owner and the owner is rewarded accordingly. Analogously, no serious terrorist organization could exist without the support of dictators and these dictators should be “rewarded” accordingly.

There is no doubt that those directly responsible for the attacks, if still alive, should be sought out and brought to justice, but even more so, those who own the means of production (whether the space, the weapons or the ideas) are the ones who must be punished and stopped. Governments must follow the principles of capitalism in fighting terrorism. These sound principles are more effective than those proposed by communism for the purpose of production, they can be as effective in fighting those bent on destruction.

Without the support of the dictators, no terrorist group can repeat the horror that we witnessed in the attack on America. The cancer of terrorism, to be eradicated, must be uprooted at the source. Any other retaliatory action will amount to nothing more than a show of force, with little long-term consequences in terms of insuring the safety of the free world. It is the symptom and its cause that must be attacked, the tail and the head that must be destroyed.

Tal Ben-Shahar, a teacher and lecturer, writes extensively on education, philosophy, psychology and politics and published the book "Heaven Can Wait" in 1998.

Source: Arutz Sheva

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