Time to make the right call - Ed Brock

Well, before Sept. 11 I never imagined that terrorists would hijack four commercial jet airliners and crash three of them into a pair of national landmarks, either.

But I knew something was going to happen. Just little old me, Ed Brock, the guy from Mobile, Ala.

I knew something was going to happen, and while that doesn't make me Nostradamus or anything, that's OK because Nostradamus was a fraud, anyway.

I knew about something else, too. I knew President Bush's entire approach to fighting terrorism was short sighted and I was right about that, too.

Long ago I wrote a column in which I compared the concept of terrorism to the creature that was the starring attraction in the 1960s horror flick "The Blob."

Like the blob, terrorism cannot be defeated by a hail of bullets. Indeed, recent changes in the evolution of terrorism proves that it reacts like a creature from other sci fi flicks (at least in "The Fifth Element" and I think in "Star Trek"), one that actually grows more powerful with every shot.

The recent bombings in Spain apparently are a demonstration of this new dynamic.

It would seem that smaller, lesser known and thus harder to track terrorist groups have taken up the "destroy America" goal of al-Queada. At the same time, other experts and former experts have reported that our war in Iraq has caused Osama bin Laden's terrorist group to become a "hydra-headed organization with cells that are operating autonomously."

OK, OK, the former expert in this case is Bush former counter terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, and I will concede that Clarke may have some political motivation for saying what he says.

But others have described the same phenomenon and I wanted to use "hydra-headed organization."

And the fact remains that long ago I mentioned that terrorism, being an idea and not a nation, could not be fought using conventional tactics. This is what I was talking about.

Well before our invasion of Iraq there was a perception around the world of America as intrusive and, in some minds, power hungry. Regardless of what our intentions really are, the unilateral invasion of Iraq is apparently furthering that image, inspiring more people to fight against what they see as an evil empire.

A further example of our alienation of the rest of the world is the current disagreement between several Caribbean nations and the United States over the alleged ouster of former Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Caribbean bloc is concerned about Aristide's story that our agents forced him out at gunpoint, a story they may not have even reacted to were it not for the example we've set in Iraq of unilateral action.

Also, Bush's 2002 decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to develop this costly and probably ineffective missile defense system now has Russian once again designing new weapons to penetrate that shield.

Not only does this echo the Cold War sentiments best left behind, it is a waste of money best spent on strengthening Russia's economy. And we want Russia's economy, and everybody else's economy, to be strong because poverty is a terrorism generator.

Poverty and fear, and it is in quelling the world's fear of us that we are failing. We are responding in the same, cliched fashion, thinking we can simply pound our enemy into submission.

There is definitely a force element to the war on terrorism. Individual terrorist groups must be chopped down like weeds, but that must be combined with reasonable policies of inclusion to convince the people of the world that we are not the bad guys as they now seem to see us.

So while it is important to know exactly what happened before Sept. 11 to lead up to the terrorist attacks of that day, what is far more important is what we are doing now. And what we are doing now is not going to cut it.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.