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The Bush Administration Makes New Enemies Daily

In the frenzy surrounding the exposed plot to simultaneously blow up ten airliners flying from Britain to the United States, one line of inquiry being pursued by investigators should make the Bush administration very nervous. British and Pakistani law enforcement officials are examining whether the British plotters of Pakistani descent received money from an Islamic charity, Jamaat ud Dawa. The charity has been used as a front for a militant group fighting for the separation of the Muslim province of Kashmir from the predominantly Hindu India. The most important element in the whole investigation is that Jamaat ud Dawa was recently labeled a terrorist organization by the Bush administration. Could this labeling have motivated the plot in the first place?

Jamaat ud Dawa has no direct association with al Qaeda and focuses its efforts on ousting the army of a non-Muslim state (India) from Muslim lands (Kashmir)—the key issue that enrages and motivates the most Islamic jihadist attacks. In fact, jihadist groups battled the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the French and Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, the Russians in Chechnya, the Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Americans in Afghanistan and now Iraq. In spite of this, the United States seems to have gone out of its way to pick a fight with the Jamaat ud Dawa.

And the group has apparently noticed. The organization’s website shows a photo of Mohammed Saeed, the group’s leader, protesting the Bush administration’s designation of Jamaat ud Dawa as a terrorist organization in May of this year. If the group was involved in the bomb plot, occurring three months later, it appears to be no coincidence.

Jamaat ud Dawa is the perfect example of the type of local and regional insurgent group the United States government continues to add to the U.S. terrorism list in the name of the “global war on terror.” Yet, because these groups don’t start out with an anti–U.S. focus, the U.S. government is endangering its own citizens by making new enemies needlessly. The United States cannot and should not—for the security of its own people—help every government put down threats from local insurgents and terrorists.

India and Pakistan do need to solve the Kashmir problem, and the United States might even be able to help mediate a settlement, since it now has a loose alliance with both nations. But labeling Kashmiri groups as “terrorists” does nothing for any future U.S. role as an honest broker in the dispute.

Similarly, slavish support for Israel’s “over-the-top” response in Lebanon to Hezbollah’s attack on Israeli military targets could provoke Hezbollah to again attack U.S. targets. The group virtually ended its strikes against U.S. targets when the United States withdrew its forces from Lebanon in the early 1980s. Hezbollah, as it has proven before, is a formidable foe, but its main target is Israel. Why did the Bush administration needlessly shake the Hezbollah hornet’s nest by stalling the cessation of hostilities in Lebanon so that Israel could have more time to futilely attack Hezbollah’s and Lebanon’s infrastructure?

No conflict in the world is apparently too unimportant or irrelevant to “U.S. security” for the world’s superpower to refrain from intervening. The first responsibility of any government is to try to make its people genuinely secure, not to perpetuate empire. Empire does not generate security, but rather undermines it. The bomb plot should be a wake-up call to the Bush administration to disengage from needless meddling in other countries’ wars and conflicts.

Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington University. He spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.

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