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Op-Ed: Duane Sweeney 2001

It occurs to me that this war on terrorism has some silver linings. If I ask myself what it would truly take to eliminate terrorism I get answers like: Fairness between and within nations, lack of repression and coercion of populations, local economic control, sustainable economic and educational opportunity for all, hope for the future, and so on. A just world, in other words. Can we up level the discussion beyond superficial and dangerous retribution?

This is the cause level, rather than the symptom level that the US government seems to be addressing. The official approach, if it strengthens corrupt governments and curtails existing civil rights, and is seen as religious or ethnic repression, could easily backfire and actually increase the ranks and level of commitment of guerrillas intent on their mission (aka terrorists).

So we can take this as an opportunity to reframe the discussion.

Taking one very concrete example, I have written the positive (in my opinion) consequences of defensive adaptation of our energy production system below. The audience in mind is a fairly conventional one, so I did not go so far as to include the positive social and political effects in poor countries of local communities having their own power sources as prices drop, of the effect on global warming and air pollution of cutting back on the need to burn wood and coal, and so on.

The same analysis could be extended to food production, with the energy component in agribiz being huge, and local low or non-chemical production being much less vulnerable to disruption. I thought one concept was enough for this time out, though. Feel free to spread this around if you like it. Also, where else does this theme of what it would take to have a safe world go, outside the military box, the "dead or alive" mentality. Remember, we have a national commitment to make the world safe for civilized nations. What does that really imply? This is a time of transition, and more things can be considered in such times than in other times.


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