I read the exchange between you and eLuddite and thought I might give a shot at responding to your questions. I disagree with you that he was avoiding your questions, but I can see why you found the answers difficult to distinguish from "attacks on the US". Like many people who disagree with America's foreign policy, eLuddite has probably been watching this develop for the past several YEARS, whereas prior to September 11th, most Americans didn't know what foreign policy meant.
Anyway, I am not a very intelligent person and my responses to your questions are likely to be inadequate, but I'm feeling bold today.
* How would you classify the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon?
Honestly? That depends on which standard I would use. You see, there is a blatant double-standard when it comes to the classification of such things. If I was to use my own personal standard, the standard I also apply to America's actions against Iraq, Sudan, Japan, Vietnam and many others, I would classify it as a horrendous act devoid of any goodness. I'd call it something that could only have been unleashed by people who have rationalized mass murder.
If I use the American standard, however, (the standard America applies to itself when it "strikes") then I would call it an assault on strategic infrastructure with inordinately high colateral damage.
* If it turns out that a government sponsored the attacks, what should be the U.S. response to that government?
I'd say that the situation would have to dictate the response. Sometimes war would be the outcome, but I think that I agree with eLuddite in that the immediate response should be to file a protest in international forums and seek international approval for retaliation before initiating it. This is what pretty much all other countries are expected to do in such a case. (Because after all, if that is not the case, then how do you know this WTC attack was an attack and not a retaliation?)
* Is it realistic to expect such a response to prevent future attacks from that government?
Again, it depends. It is usually pretty unrealistic to expect violence to end violence. In human history, the only thing which has ever been successful in stemming violence is justice... equity and justice. (I don't mean the selective kind of justice where all men are equal but some are more equal than others).
Sometimes war is justified. More often, it is not.
* Is terrorism a legitimate way to effect political change?
Your question contains two words which need to be defined: "terrorism" and "legitimate". But I know what you meant when you asked the question. You meant: do we want to encourage the targetting of civilians as a means to effect political change? My answer to that would be no.
Please remember, however, that the term "terrorism" has been misused very often in recent times.
The other important question that should be asked along with yours is: If diplomatic channels are stonewalled, and terrorism is bad, do we provide for an alternate means to effect political change? ie: What should those who have a beef with the USA do about it? That's my question to you.
* If not, what is an appropriate policy for a country such as the U.S. to have regarding terrorism?
The first thing a country such as the US should do in the face of terrorism is ask the question "Why did they do this" and come up with a better answer than "because they hate freedom and freedom-loving people".
The answer, in the case of the US, would be that US foreign policy has been brutal and inhumane in many cases. The first course of action then, would be to rectify the situation. The next course of action would be to pursue those responsible for the attack (with the aid and support of an international tribunal) and bring them to justice.
This policy will be effective against terrorism for the same reason that upgrading schools and hospitals and services in general is effective against crime in America's inner cities. Crime is sometimes caused by pure evil. More often, it is caused by anger, resentment or despair. Americans don't have too much trouble understanding that it's in their best interest to provide equal opportunity (or at least *equitable* opportunity) to its citizens. And yet American foreign policy could not be further removed from its domestic ideals of freedom and justice for all. Outside its borders, America is a bully and an oppressor.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that among the millions and millions of people who
suffer at the hands of US foreign policy every day, there are bound to be a few that fly off the handle. It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to prevent that from happening.
* If this policy has long-term goals, what should be done about immediate and short-term threats from terrorists?
Immediate and short term? Nothing. There is nothing anyone can do in the short term to stem the threat of terrorism. I repeat: nothing. Even Bush admitted as much in his speech.
The American people's insitance on a short-term fix is exactly why the Bush administration (eager to legitimize itself) has rushed to a declaration of war. Bush's speech was in fact some major back-pedaling from the stance he had been taking and voicing just days earlier.
* What about states that support terrorism? How should the policy address them?
People in glass houses should not throw stones. The USA is the biggest and most prolific supporter of terrorism on the face of this Earth. Of course if the terrorism is aimed at others, then it's not REAL terrorism eh? The first step, therefore, is for the USA to stop supporting terrorism its own self. It would then be in a much better position to condemn it elsewhere. In fact, it may look up and find out that it has snuffed out terrorism's reason for existence! Wouldn't that be great?
* Do you believe that there are some people with an unquenchable hate of the American people and a real desire to harm and kill Americans, military or civilian?
Yes, foreign and domestic.
* If so, how should the policy address people with an unquenchable hate?
If we are to believe Bush in his speech, then as a freedom-loving nation the USA should support their right to hate them. Punish actions, not ideologies. If you want my answer to "what do we do with the small minority of people who kill others for no other reason than blind hatered?" I say we need to find them and put them away where they can't hurt anybody. That happens every single day on the streets of every American city. We don't demonize them, we recognize their mental illness and try to treat it.
Anyway, I hope that helped. For what it's worth, what eLuddite was saying in response to all your questions was basically: "Regardless WHAT the answers to your questions turn out to be, it is not America's place to arrive at them on its own. If it's a global problem, it requires a global solution."
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