This I Believe

Matthew - Noblesveill, Indiana
Entered on September 26, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that the Global War on Terror poorly defines the geo-political issues of oppression and neglect in the world that result in extremism and violence. As a result, governments incorrectly look to a military response for an issue that would be better addressed by a more comprehensive socio-political strategy. Nonetheless, I still believe that the military plays a vital supporting role (along with all the agencies at our disposal) rather than the leading role in this conflict.

I believe that terrorism, insurgency, and war stem from the following root causes: government oppression and neglect; political, ethnic, and religious intolerance; social and economic inequality; and shortsighted geopolitical interactions—past and present.

My personal experience as a military and police advisor in Latin America taught me first hand lessons about justice, equality, and a peoples’ motivation to take up arms against their government. By promoting Human Rights and the Rights of the Accused while combating terrorism, insurgency, and narco-trafficking, I realized that rational human beings are compelled to pick up a weapon only when pushed to a relatively extreme position. This condition is usually the result of some combination of the causes outlined above.

I understand that irrational people are always a threat—especially given the potential destructive power available to just a few determined actors. Nonetheless, I believe that irrational extremists would be relatively rare were it not for the sympathy and support they get from other stakeholders motivated by corruption, oppression, and neglect.

Consequently, I believe that the coordinated actions of responsible governments, international bodies like the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations can mitigate these root causes and eliminate the motivation for the vast majority of insurgents and terrorists in the world. I also believe that given the right leadership and a strategy that makes sense, the majority of the world would support this effort. As frustrating as our multi-party legislature and political system can be—exacerbated by the competing interests of UN member states—I still believe that good people who disagree can and will come to a meaningful and manageable compromise for the greater good.

Ultimately, I believe that we must redefine the Global War on Terror into a Global Strategy to Eliminate Oppression and that this is the only way to make the world a truly safer place.