Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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The recent terrorist attacks in London were horrific, vicious, and uncalled for. They were also extremely predictable. Every major city in the Western world is at risk, and London was a prime candidate due to British involvement in the war in Iraq and the U.K.'s close ties to America. Of course we don't know that it was Islamic terrorists at this point, it could be the IRA, or some anti-globilization group, or even a response to the Olympics. Regardless of the reasoning behind the attacks we know that we're in an age where no place is safe from this sort of attack. It may be only a matter of time before one of the bombs is nuclear and the stakes change dramatically.

So what can be done? More importantly what should be done? Most reasonable people believe that the correct response to terrorism is to fail to acknowledge it. Most terrorists commit their heinous acts with some sort of message or policy goal, and if they fail to achieve that it de-incentivizes further acts by them and others. This is true to a degree, certainly I believe that negotiating with terrorists will just breed more terrorism, but it leaves out a key component of terrorist activities, lashing out.

A lot of terrorism seems to stem from powerless people lashing out against those they blame, rightly or wrongly, for their lack of power and prospects. From the KKK in a humiliated and devastated South to Arabs growing up in countries with 25% unemployment and few prospects for real economic advancement, these people want to matter in the world somehow. They don't want their years on this planet to pass without anybody noticing or caring. It's not the job of America or the United Kingdom to provide employment or advancement for these people, we couldn't do it if we wanted to without making things worse, but we are complicit in their powerlessness. The rotten regimes of the middle east would not have survived as long as they have, keeping their countries in the dark ages, if not for the billions of dollars in oil money we give them every year.

What's the right thing to do in response to terrorist attacks from Muslim groups? Start looking HARD for alternative sources of energy. Imagine if we spent the $200 billion we wasted in Iraq on research and development for hybrid cars and other technologies to reduce oil dependence? We could get there in five, maybe ten, years. Without inflated oil prices those regimes would become cash starved, and without oil to blackmail us with we'd be able to pressure them to democratize and create a free society where those angry young men could go to college or write books or do anything other than blowing people up in order to make their mark on this world. Now some might argue that China's increasing demand for oil will nullify any such attempts, but we could license the technology to the Chinese market to deal with that. That would be both a boon to international relations with the next big swinging dick of the world stage, and a tremendous aid to national security.

Terrorism is a terrible price to pay for gas guzzling SUVs and energy so cheap that people refuse to run their air conditioners at a slightly higher temperature to conserve it. As a block of nations we need to take a long hard look at what we're doing and how we can truly make the world a better place for not only those of lesser means but ourselves as well. These attacks in London were terrible and terribly predictable. They will not be the last and they will probably be among the least fatal. If we don't change the way we operate in the world things will continue to worsen. I for one don't want to turn on the news some day and hear that Paris no longer exists due to a nuclear blast. I don't want you to turn on the news and learn that I was killed by a bomb set off in Times Square.

We can make this a better world for everyone and we won't have to send young people off to kill other young people in foreign lands to do it. The choices are ours. Let's pressure our leaders to make the right ones.
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