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September Questions

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It’s “Patriot Day” isn’t it? The time we recall the tragedy of American flight No. 11 (north tower of the World Trade Center), United flight No. 175 (south tower of the World Trade Center), American flight No. 77 (Pentagon) and United flight No. 93 (Somerset County, Pa.). It’s a time when U.S. foreign policy is executed under Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a man who studied political philosophy at the knee of nuclear terror theorist Albert Wohlstetter, the University of Chicago professor who inspired the film Dr. Strangelove. It’s a time when Barron’s publishes guides to careers in Homeland Security.

Shouldn’t it also be a time for questions? Unless we want “patriot” to become a euphemism for sheep, perhaps questions are in order. How do we best fight an enemy we cannot see, let alone accurately locate? Consider:

& ull; Defeating terrorist enemies is our goal. Must we alienate the very people who could best assist us? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a self-described “Christian,” will not use the words “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip.” A Zionist who brooks no argument, he prefers the biblical words “Judea” and “Samaria.” U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft derides Islam as “a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him.” In his Newsweek columns, George F. Will routinely compares the Palestinian people to Nazis. Conservative columnist Ann Coulter wrote, “We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” Rep. C. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said to his state’s law officers, “Just turn [the sheriff] loose and have him arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line.”

Unfortunately, some in the Middle East, like 27-year-old Abul Toul, a Lebanese fighter who went to Iraq soon after the U.S. invasion, have a ready answer for this kind of rhetoric: “When I went to Iraq, I did not go because I was with Saddam, but because I was against the Americans. The Americans have always been against Arabs and Muslims everywhere and every capable person should fight them,” he told NBC in a July 28 report.

& ull; Is our goal in the war on terrorism really about nurturing democracy in the Middle East, or is it one of self-serving “stability in the region”? As brutal as its mullahs can be, Iran is still a nation with parliamentary and presidential elections where women vote and an Islam-based constitution guarantees religious minorities (Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians) seats in Parliament. Iran also was hostile toward the Taliban, and has captured al-Qaeda operatives. President Bush calls Iran “evil.” Meanwhile, the congressional report on the 9/11 hijackings reportedly points toward Saudi Arabian officials who provided millions to Islamic charities with anti-Western agendas, and possibly even al-Qaeda itself. Saudi Arabia denies women the vote and freedom of movement. The royal family exercises exclusive control over the country’s executive branch, freedom of assembly is denied, and political prisoners and criminal suspects are routinely tortured. Saudi Arabia is one of our closest allies in the region.

& ull; If the same congressional intelligence report concluded the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented through closer cooperation between the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency do we need draconian, unconstitutional measures such as the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II? In a recent Salt Lake Tribune op-ed piece, our esteemed Sen. Orrin Hatch says yes.

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