Saturday, August 26, 2006

Good luck getting this
on an airplane.

"We either fight them there, or we fight them in the supermarkets and streets here," uttered Pennsylvania's Curt Weldon, a Republican serving in the House of Representatives. Weldon was referring to terrorists, implying that the United States has to continue moving foward in its War On Terrorism, despite the fact that 2,609 American soldiers have died since the Iraq War began. As many as 45,000 civilians have been killed as a result of military intervention in Iraq, and the Bush administration said the Iraq War was "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003. Three years later, Iraq is beseiged by civil war. What a rousing success!

With the success the United States has had meddling in other countries, it is no surprise to find that they are enforcing top-notch security measures to deter malice onboard an airplane following a thwarted terrorist plot in Britain. Liquids are not to be taken on board an airplane unless it is breast milk or formula; prescription drugs and cell phones are also still allowed. It is the same kind of reactionary attitude that Americans have come to expect from the Bush administration: always fighting what happened yesterday, instead of trying to prevent what could happen tomorrow. Even worse, they tell the passengers what they can and cannot bring with them on a plane, so terrorists could just hide their chemicals in a bottle of baby formula or set off a bomb with their cell phone (the terrorists arrested in Britain reportedly were using a camera flash to ignite a peroxide-based solution).

These measures, however, are exactly what the Republican Party wants, as it instills fear in the majority of Americans, those who cannot think logically for themselves. The Bush campaign ran the 2004 election on fear, citing Democratic nominee John Kerry's soft stance on anti-terrorism. In 2008, they'll rehash everything that won them the last two elections in the hopes that Americans haven't grown any wiser. No gay marriage, no flag burning, no abortion, no stem-cell research, no terrorism. The Republican Party does a magnificent job of scaring Americans over otherwise mundane subjects, which is why they jumped all over the latest terror plot in Britain to eschew evil.

2,609 American soldiers have died since the Iraq War began.

Preventing terrorism can be done much more easily than the way the Bush administration chooses to do it. Before the attacks on September 11, 2001, al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden repeatedly warned the United States to take troops out of Saudi Arabia and to stop openly supporting the state of Israel (starting with the Clinton administration; Clinton tried to kill him). Nine months after being sworn into office, President Bush paid the price for scoffing at a terrorist with an ultimatum (ignoring, for the moment, that the attacks may have been set up or willingly allowed to happen by Bush and his cronies). Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, another crashed into the Pentagon, and another was crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the passengers aboard Flight 93 diverted the plane from its intended destination, believed to be the White House or the Capitol building.

Ben Gurion International
Ben Gurion International has the right idea about security.

All Bush had to do was put 3,000 lives above international machismo, and he didn't.

If the United States is truly interested in making the airlines safer, then they need to look no further than Israel's Ben Gurion International in Tel Aviv. A BGI plane has never been attacked by terrorists in more than three decades, and no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked -- and Israel is the world's hotspot for terrorism. So what does Israel do that is so successful? They don't make passengers take off their shoes. Travellers are with their baggage at all times. Screeners talk with flight-catchers. They do indeed check for weapons, but they are more concerned with catching malicious people, not malicious items. They believe in the "Guns don't kill people; people kill people" line.

Security checks the behavior of everyone even before they enter the terminal. They check for bulky clothing, and oddities in facial expressions, body language, and speech patterns, and by the time this screening process is complete, they can safely assume that someone's bottle of hair gel will not be used to blow up a plane.

With the increasingly specific measures of security being enforced, a controversial issue arises in racial profiling. Every kamikaze terrorist that has threatened to hijack an American plane has been Muslim. But does that necessitate stopping all Muslims for screening before the flight? If Muslims are specifically screened, then terrorist ringleaders such as Osama bin Laden can just recruit someone who doesn't fit the description to carry out his deeds. Racial profiling is another reactionary move enforced by fear-mongers.

However, all of these expansive anti-terrorism strategies would be erroneous if the United States was not such an antagonist to other nations. Muslims, for the most part, don't want Western influence on their territory. So, the obvious and safe thing to do is to stop provoking them. Bush thought it was in their best interest to remove Saddam Hussein (it wasn't) and install a democratic form of government. The Iraqis, by and large, are still without electricity and clean water. It is not the job of the United States to play the role of police officer and give the final verdict on what leaders and styles of governments are right for other nations.

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden gave the U.S. an
ultimatum and Bush scoffed.

For a good lesson on foreign policy, the U.S. need not look any further than its neighbor to the north in Canada. Canada professes multilateralism, and how many terrorist attacks have been aimed at Canada? None.

The Bush administration, however, views the world around them as nothing more than a game, exemplified by Bush's declaration that Israel "won" against Hezbollah. Hezbollah's existence alone should crown them as the victors, but they also caused the most damage to the Israeli army (estimated to be the third-largest in the world) than anyone else has ever done throughout history, even though they were clearly outnumbered.

Bush's foreign policy is nothing extensive, as he borrowed it from his days on the tetherball court in elementary school. The United States is the big, bad bully, and nerdy Iraq has lunch money (oil). The U.S. is backed by his less-bullyish buddies in the United Kingdom and Australia, and they all want al Qaeda and the Ba'ath Party to stop trading Pokemon cards on their tetherball court.