Christopher Santarelli started his column (‘A city upon a hill no more,’ Dec. 1, p.6) by saying how angry he is after the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks. And he probably should be angry seeing innocent people killed. It is how he advocates dealing with that anger, however, that I have a hard time supporting.
Santarelli thinks we should blow terrorists off the map, but terrorists aren’t on the map. There is no one country we can attack and capture and end terrorism. Rather, terrorists are spread out all over the world, in countries whose help and support we will need if we ever want to find them, let alone attack them. As for ‘not intervening in conflicts that do not concern us,’ I would argue that one would be hard-pressed to find conflicts that do not affect the United States. Americans can get caught in the crossfire of conflicts that have nothing to do with America, which is seemingly exactly what happened in Mumbai. Historical precedents don’t seem to support Santarelli’s isolationism strategy, either. World War II is a great example of a conflict the United States thought did ‘not concern us,’ only to be shown how quickly a localized, far-away problem can spread.’ ‘ ‘
Like Santarelli, I support having more definable goals in America’s wars, but only going after terrorists that have directly attacked the United States doesn’t provide much incentive for our allies. Israel’s current state should be a clear enough example that killing terrorists isn’t going to put an end to terrorism in the near future, if it all. We shouldn’t give up trying to ‘understand this kind of radical.’ The best ways I can see to stop terrorism is to figure out what is making terrorists. Unpleasant as it may be, the only way to do that is to try to understand them and what makes them turn to radicalism. We should probably all be angry after what happened in Mumbai, but knee-jerk reactions like isolationism and unilateral retaliation are not going to be satisfying long-term solutions.