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Laser Barking At Terrorists

By Mike Ghouse

10 May, 2007

Throw me in the ditch for the crimes I commit, inflict the punishment I deserve, but please do not unleash your fury on my family, my parents, my town or my religion. I should be responsible for my acts, and no one else. This should be a common principal and norm we all should abide with.

There is always a reaction to the biased phrase when some one is addressed as, “You people”. We have seen reactions by Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus or African Americans, Arabs, Caucasians and others when they hear that phrase, “you people” in that particular tone. For the wrongs I do, it should be, “Mike you goofed up” and not, “you guys”. When a Jewish councilman was addressed in that fashion in Dallas in 2006, all of us were offended, and I took the step to condemn the sayer of such a phrase through Dallas Morning News. I also make no exception if my fellow Muslims speak in that tone.

You face the battle with your kids when they go nuts, you do the best in disciplining them, and when they are cranky, they will do the thing they know how; to be unruly, challenging and sometimes even destructive. When you push a wild animal to the corner, he knows he is done with, but before he crumbles, he will charge on you and attempt to inflict whatever damage it can.

While the analogy of wild animal in the case of terrorists may not be perfect, more often than not we use an approach in delineating and classifying terrorists. We have to develop a nuanced and conscientious approach in dealing with terrorism. Some groups, such as al-Qaeda, are aimless in the sense, there is no negotiable goals or agendas that be meaningfully contended with. Therefore, there is not much room for flexibility. However, there are many movement that engage in terrorism have legitimate and genuine grievances as part of national resistance movement. Without addressing those grievances, no preaching or pressure would eliminate such terrorism, especially when many among these people have lost all hope for any solution or resolution and have been pushed to the wall.

While we must not condone any terrorism, we must also take the moral high ground by addressing the underlying grievances and problems and avoid pursuing policies, and undertaking ventures that provide new impetus to the terrorists, as it has unfolded in Iraq. We have to figure in the frustration game of new ones popping up and avoiding them. Pounding them with mega bombs will not cut it, we do not have a record in history of such successes; the Taliban’s are popping again. To create a just world for our own peace and peace for others requires giving due attention to their concerns without compromising our own deeply held values. We cannot become oppressors ourselves in the pursuit of peace. The world communities will be with us, with their hearts, in fighting the menace of terrorism, if we go after the individuals responsible for the crimes and not their families, not their nation or their religion. We will achieve far greater success, if we learn to laser bark at the right criminals, instead of barking at the universe. Others need to sense in our actions that we are not barking at them, and then they will be with us.

"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." There is no saner advice than Mother Theresa’s, and when we are overwhelmed with badness around, “The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas” Alfred Griswold.

The business of Terrorism has been around for a long time, however in the last century, the Haganah began its operations in the 20’s, then came the Irgunists and after Stern died in a shoot-out with British police in 1942, the mantle was picked up by future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, then in November 1944, Lord Moyne, the British minister was assassinated in Cairo by the stern Gang. Once, Israel was established in 1948, the tables turned, the Palestinians were displaced and the PLO came into being and started their acts of terrorizing the innocent. The 1971 Munich Massacre was the ugliest one followed by the plane hijackings and other activities. While IRA continued terrorizing in Northern part of UK, the Tamil Tigers were wreaking havoc in Sri Lanka. By the way, we never called them Christian, Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists, why do we call Muslim Terrorists then? That is plain stupid and counter-productive, if our goal is peaceful co-existence.

Now, the International terrorism has become a daily affair. President Reagan made hero out of Osama, instead of being grateful, the ugly traitor turned the guns against us. He has done a lot of damage to us; The 1992 Bombing of WTC, the Embassy in Kenya, the Cole and the 9/11. Regionally, the Beirut Bombardment created Hezbollah in Lebanon and the political imbroglio generated Hamas in Palestine. While other outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-a-Mohammad got going in South Asia. Intoxicated with our might, we extended the invitation “Bring on” to those al-Qaeda terrorists and they are multiplying in Iraq now, aren’t they?

Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King must have pondered over our situation in Iraq and mused about telling this to our President Years ago, “Conquer your foe by force, you increase his enmity; conquer by love, and you will reap no after-sorrow.” We completely violated the teaching of Jesus, Luke 6: 27, 28 – "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."

We did not believe in this wisdom and decided not to deal with the terrorists, who would we deal with then? They are the ones who are disruptive. We always have the last option available to us, but our first choice should have been to engage them into a dialogue, we can certainly laugh about it, but looking at the results we have achieved, the dialogue option would have been more fruitful and less destructive. Our insolence in not engaging them as a part of a broader approach has produced more of them, than we can conquer.

We falsely believed, and still do, that our gunpowder can subdue everything in the world. I hope we realize that we have always won the right battles and the right wars, and have certainly lost the wrong ones in Vietnam and other places. We forget that dear God is mightier than our gunpowder. We have also forgotten making distinctions between movements of national resistance and groups given to apocalyptic-type agenda for destruction.

The wrong wars did not have a clear objective, nor did we know where to point the gun. We were trigger happy to destroy what we did not like. The way we have gone about in dealing with Terrorism is pathetic. Shame on us, we were scared to speak up until November 7th, 2006.

Thanks God, we are speaking up now, and at least our mistakes are surfacing. “When we took over Baghdad, we had plans to rebuild Iraq, but wasted out time for over a year in preparing the blueprints, while we let the un-employed and the youth rot with nothing to hope for,” Rajiv Chandrashekharan from Washington post reported. Our strategy was wrong and planning was helter skelter. It is easier to blame on a host of things on our failure than to acknowledge our mistakes. That is the first thing we have to do, to know where we were wrong, then figure it out how to fix them.

We can consider the following approach; i) Announcing the troop withdrawal date gives a clarity to all parties, ii) asking a non-party to the war like Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Brazil or Japan to call on a summit of key Arab leaders including the leaders, and opposition leaders of the three factions in Iraq, iii) asking each one to prepare a wish list that would stop the bloodshed iv) monthly withdrawal of our troops replaced by troops of their choice to maintain law and order. This may dampen the Al-Qaeda presence.

Hope is the most important ingredient of life, without which life is utterly meaningless. It is the hope that determines destiny and fuels the drive towards it. A normal youth aspires to go to school, get the education, fall in love, have job, get married, have a house and raise children who would live a life better than himself or herself. Most people learn to live and be content with accomplishing any part of that elusive hope. Snatch all of it from a human being, what is left to derive satisfaction? Have we thought seriously and empathically about it?

It is wrong to assume that Muslims support terrorism. Why should they? They are getting the shaft triply because of the terrorists; i) they are blamed iii) their religion is maligned and iii) the world looks at them maliciously. Muslims are as terrorized by the terrorists as anyone else is. Heck, Muslims condemn terrorism three times as strong. The media does not put the Muslim voice out; heck the Muslims are frustrated with this situation. But condemn they do, more so than others. It is just not Muslims, you will find that the Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others also condemn the atrocities committed in their names, but their voices are drowned as well. The bullies on both sides continue to reign. It has got to change, and the moderates need to speak up and the media ought to oblige to give the space, even if it is not sensational.

Once we are committed to a peaceful world of co-existence, we will start seeing the issues in more focused way. Dalai Lama says, “Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity”. If we see the problems of the world as problems that need resolution - then our approach will crystallize and start thinking of solutions.

Let’s start with the war on Terror.

Osama Bin Laden and his gang destroyed our symbol of freedom and prosperity on 9/11, we screamed, “You people” implying Muslims. We also said, “Muslim Terrorists” and a whole lot of other phrases to “Islamofascist”. The right phrase would have been “Osama, you screwed up”.

Whose rears should we have hauled? To the world, we looked like maniacs with a cocked gun running amuck with no particular place to point it towards; anything that moved got bombed out, including a wedding party. We were shooting everywhere, and destroyed every thing in our reach. This is the wrong way to get the terrorists; Osama is still on the loose.

If we can laser shoot the tiny object 3000 miles away, we can get the six footer and his cronies. We can laser bark at the right tree and quit barking at the universe. We have excuses for our failure, and have sacrificed over 3000 of our sons and daughters and a million plus Iraqis, and the latter simply doesn’t count.

We could have done the right thing, but we did not have the guts to do it. When people cannot face things squarely, they go the route of “you people” and shoot in darkness hoping we would shoot some at least, what a delusion! The American people, generally caring and empathic, understand now that we didn’t go to Iraq with pure and sincere motivations to help them, rather with our own grandiose interest in mind, where the Iraqi people would be guinea pigs. That’s why the support for the war has disappeared so visibly. It is time to admit our mistakes and undo those by disengaging from Iraq; they will probably not do as much of damage as we have done

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer, speaker and a pluralist with the aptitude [you might like to use a different word] to find solutions. He believes that if we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Mike can be reached at and at the websites and and

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