Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fighting Them Over There So We Can Fight Them . . . Over Here?

Fortunately for New Yorkers, Faisal Shahzad’s plan went up in smoke.

It’s been less than a week since Shahzad entered the national scene with his smoking car in Times Square, but there remain unanswered questions, including one no one wants to ask.

Why would he do this? What were his connections to the Pakistani Taliban? And if this had happened two years ago would Dick Cheney view this attempted terrorist attack by a native Pakistani as justification for invading Iran?

There remains plenty of ambiguity in this case, but one of the certainties is that Shahzad did not fit into our government’s tidy box of terrorist classification.

In the midst of a contentious immigration debate taking place in this country, Shahzad fits the positive stereotype the elites like to project on us for why there should be unrestricted immigration.

Shahzad never hurt anybody. He seemed to have gone about the immigration process in the prescribed way and was awarded citizenship 13 months ago. He went to American universities where he did not cause any trouble. He had his Muslim faith but he must have appeared moderate since nobody was startled by it.

He earned a job as a financial consultant for a marketing firm in Connecticut. He bought a house that was foreclosed a year ago, making his loss in the housing collapse the only probable reason that his economic situation would have given him cause to lash out at his adopted country.

But does anyone believe that Faisal Shahzad, a thirty-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, who earned degrees from American universities in 2000 and 2005, and was a junior financial analyst until one year ago, would have tried to ignite his Nissan Pathfinder were the United States not bombing his native land, an act of undeclared war that was escalated during the past year by President Obama?

All the available evidence in this case points in that direction.

Fighting the terrorists “over there” certainly did not stop Shahzad from trying to fight us over here. The U.S. has been engaged in Afghanistan for nearly nine years and in Iraq for over seven now. He had plenty of opportunity to volunteer for jihad because of those wars while he was enjoying freedom and becoming naturalized. Once drone strikes in Pakistan became more pronounced, this native-born Pakistani decided to take a trip to the old country where, it is assumed at this point, he volunteered himself for the Pakistani Taliban late in 2009.

If this scenario is true, that Shahzad was trying to exact revenge for what was happening to his old country, then wouldn’t extrication from the region remove the incentive for these continual, albeit amateurish bomb plots?

What the U.S. government has to realize is that terrorism is also a home-grown problem. While the Bush administration was trying to hypnotize the country into believing that terrorists are motivated by an inexplicable hatred of freedom, traditionalist conservatives and libertarians pointed out that Americans suffer terrorism over here because we have been over there.

As long as we insist that we have to be “over there,” terrorists will come over here. As Shahzad shows, some of them are already here.

If we see that it is “necessary” to remain “over there,” the price of our presence will be more car bombs like the one set by Faisal Shahzad.

And if some of those are successful, will it occur to anyone in seats of power that fighting them “over there” did not stop them from coming over here?


Editorial note: Wes Messamore of The Humble Libertarian has brought me on as a new regular contributor where this essay also appears. Please feel free to read and comment there as well.


Chris W said...

This has been the problem all along. The interventionist crowd believes that we need to wage war and nation build in order to stop the Islamists, not realizing that our being there allows them to gain support and recruit more jihadists. Whenever this is brought up by people like Ron Paul, the Neocons call him a blame America kook.

Until we take away this recruiting tool from the Islamists, things are only going to get worse and we will see more and more attacks against America from foreign and homegrown terrorists.

We need to fight terror at its roots and examine the reasons why these groups are out to destroy us. Until them we cannot defeat them.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks for the visit, Chris.

It's really a simple conundrum. If we want to get rid of terrorism we have to come home. If we decide that we want to butt into every affair in every corner of the world, particularly the Middle East, then terrorism is the price we pay for that privilege.

What disturbs me so much is that conservatives are so hooked on military interventionism. We talk about how awful the government is at fixing problems at home but people seem to think that giving government employees guns and a license to kill will solve problems in other people's countries.

The Law said...

I'm glad to hear you say this "If we want to get rid of terrorism we have to come home." I've been saying this for a very long time, and it is refreshing to have sometime lines up more on the right side of the political spectrum agree with me on something =)

The simple fact is the middle east problem is a middle east problem. If they want to burn their women and
children and brainwash the population with antiquated edicts, then it's up to the people of the middle east to rebel against their oppressors just as every free nation has had to do in one point of their history or another.

The saddening issue is our presence in the middle east has nothing to do with "nation building" and everything to do with protecting our oil interests. Giving the terrorists what they want may ultimately prove to be the best thing the people of the middle east could ask for.

Don Emmerich said...

Very well-written, persuasive post.

And you have one of the best lines I've read in a long time: "...if this had happened two years ago would Dick Cheney view this attempted terrorist attack by a native Pakistani as justification for invading Iran?"

JUDGE TRUTH 101 said...

Fighting them "over there" takes valuble resources from here. Our ports are still not secure nor are our borders. Our Nation is drowning in debt while billions are spent paving the way in Iraq for the little fat bastard Al Sadr's return. Or the warlords in Afghanistan can keep up their opium trade without Taliban interference.

Carl Wicklander said...

The Law,

I'm not sure I could have said that any better myself!

Thanks for the visit.

Carl Wicklander said...

Thanks, Don. Keep up your good work, too!

Carl Wicklander said...


I know. It's not that we necessarily need to gut defense spending, although some cuts should be in order, it's that we spend those billions proppping up puppet regimes and creating more terrorists while the ones we should have been after the whole time get away.