Why we must all follow Washington

The events in Madrid should be proof enough that each of America's allies has no choice but to follow Washington.

George Washington, that is.

In 1796, George Washington penned his farewell address in which he expressed what was known as the "Golden Rule" of American foreign policy. At the time, Europe was the America of today: powerful, rich, and spread across the world. Warning against the "insidious wiles of foreign influence," Washington advised his country to extend its commerce with the world, but to have "as little political connection as possible" with any foreign country, but especially Europe. He asked his people a question that we should also ask about our nation's respective relationships with America: "Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalry, interest, humor, or caprice?"

Terrorists want to attack America's allies because these states are now entangled with American interference in the Middle East. This is a fact attested to by the FBI and the intelligences agencies of countries such as the UK and Australia, who all acknowledge that it is participation in American military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan that has put us at risk of cataclysmic terror. We, like Spain, are now firmly interwoven with America and their destiny is now interwoven with our own.

Yet, military intervention and occupation has always had a price: terrorism. The British paid in the early 20th century when besieged by the Irish. Between 1952 and 1962, French cafes and nightclubs were bombed by Algerian resistance movements. In 1983, the American embassy and marine barracks in Lebanon were bombed with hundreds killed. While Israel occupied Lebanon, it endured daily attacks by Hezbollah guerillas.

In all these examples when the occupation ended, the terror stopped. When Ronald Reagan withdrew American troops from Lebanon, the terror ended; but when Reagan attacked Libya, Libya responded with Lockerbie.

It's a simple formula: intervention begets terrorism; disentanglement ends it. It took the horrible events in Madrid for the Spanish people to realize this truism; we should learn from their lesson before we learn from our own. As John Pistole, the FBI's executive assistant director for counter-terrorism told Australian radio recently, "Any country that allies itself with the United States, unfortunately, is a target."

America's cheerleaders in the media argue that this price is worth it. They glibly deny that Iraq, Afghanistan, and the fealty of many Western governments to the United States has any relationship with the heightened threat of terrorism. Instead they offer this simple explanation: terrorists hate us because they are "evil" and we are "good."

The reality is that we are hated not because of our democracy, freedoms, and generous social security systems; rather, we are hated because of our involvement in foreign conflicts and quarrels that were never our concern.

All countries must abandon the idea of "permanent alliances" with America - or indeed any nation - that has been used as a key justification for us having entered conflicts with enemies that neither threatened us nor attacked us. Our relationship with others must be defined purely upon their behavior towards us; not on their internal conditions or politics, or the demands of our allies. If Iraq is not democratic, why should the people of Australia or Britain be expected to pay with men and money for Iraqi democracy? As long as nations do not threaten us, then let us not threaten them but extend our honest friendship to all peoples.

A terrorist attack on would be a tragedy on many levels. No citizen- regardless of race or creed - could ever wish that for his country. It would shift our way of lives forever. If we are serious about preventing it, then history teaches only one solution. If terrorism is the last weapon of the weak against occupation, then surely it stands to reason that we can nullify that threat by disengaging ourselves from provocative and unwarranted military adventures in the Middle East.

As we face a future characterized by what many Western intelligence agencies warn as almost certain terror, the case for a humble foreign policy can be reduced to one question: are we safer now than before we joined the War on Terror?

Amir Butler is executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC). He can be contacted at [email protected]

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
Excuse me Tim B., but the undeniable reason why the Christian Palestinian population has deflated from 20% to 2% is not due to many historical events in Israel-Palestine's history where ALL Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, were displaced, or massacred by the government of Israel.
The Nakba (the catastrophe) is the dispossession and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands, where more than 60 percent of all Palestinians were expelled from Palestine. Over 530 Villages were depopulated, or simply destroyed by Israel. The total number of Palestinians who have become refugees because of the creation of the state of Israel amounts to about 6 million people who have been denied re-entry into their homelands of over 1000 years.

350,000 Palestinians were displaced from Kuwait during the first Gulf War in 1991, and again in 2003, more Palestinians were basically evicted from Baghdad when the the current President Bush invaded Iraq, once again. Let us not forget that in 1967, Israel occupied even more Palestinian territories and confiscated vast amounts of land, demolished thousands of homes, and deported more Palestinians once again!

Dear Tim B., if you look at the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, you will see that the city of Rafah sits right between these borders. Ever since the 2000 Intifida, Israeli tanks have regularly, non stop have been driving day and night, surrounding houses, shooting without warning, or bulldozers show up to demolish houses for their 'security reasons'. People have to stay up until 4:30am in the morning to make sure that the tanks don't come up to their street, and they may have to evacuate their homes in fear of being killed.

Let's talk about American Rachel Corrie, run over by an Israeli army bulldozer, Rom Hurndall, shot right in the head by an IDF soldier in Rafah, lived his last few hours in a vegetative state,

Seems like sad ol' Tim is hitting the sauce pretty hard again. Then again he may just be the standard apologist for jewish terror on sober occasions as well.

Shalom Tim B., do me a favour and don't even try to deny that you were Jewish. I do not have a problem with that, honestly. I do not have a problem you even being Israeli, no sirree, but I have a problem you being a Zionist. I have a problem with everybody in this category, that also includes, Nazis, Fascists, KKK, Apartheit, Seggregationists, etc. Allow me to disagree with your comment, we will do it in a civilized way for now:"Terrorism is simply a war strategy of immoral barbarians." Terrorism was created by man at the dawn of history together with all other forms of evil to society, war, slavery, colonization, annexation, invasion, occupation, detention, etc. Really your statement is meaningless. Terrorism is an evil vehicle that conveys nothing but hate and generates hate. You don't need to be barbarian for that, just desperate without hope when you don't care anymore because nobody cares. What would you say in that case? Maybe, "Goddamn it to hell!" and die?! Think about. Your second comment is ignorantly simplistic:"Terrorists can't win in a conventional war so they use stealth and treachery against the public at large" US disarmed Iraq for over a decade and when Iraq was the most vulnerable US invaded it using the most modern and sophisticated weaponry. Was it a fair war? Or was it a terroristic war? Think of Iraq as Israel and of US as Iran. Maybe trying somebody's else shoes on you will be able to feel something from his pains?! The entity representing the terrorist do not have conventional armies and weapons but they are subjected to onslaught with those instruments by legal armies, Israel and US. Again you are wrong:"Terrorism is being used as an excuse against Israelis for having the audacity to live in the Middle East and not be Muslim." Terrorism is used as a counterbalance for the terror and insecurity Israel causes to Palestinians. I wouldn't call that audacity, but rather shame, or lack of it. Israel has no shame in occupying illegaly Palestine.

Terrorism is simply a war strategy of immoral barbarians. Terrorists can't win in a conventional war so they use stealth and treachery against the public at large. The problem is that it can be used by the foe as well. Plus, a good reason to not follow terrorists is that these people have already shown a total lack of concern for the lives of others so why would a follower expect these people to care about their lives and the lives of their families should these creeps gain power?

Terrorism is being used as an excuse against Israelis for having the audacity to live in the Middle East and not be Muslim. What is going on between Israel and Palestine is a constant onslaught of Islamic religious bigotry against Judaism and Christianity. Notice that the suicide bombers have all been Muslim. Not too long ago Christian Arabs comprised 20% of Palestine. Now it was reported that Christians in the PLO area are only 2% of the population. These Christian Arabs have either been driven out to go abroad or to Israel, while many have been murdered for being Christian; i.e., non-Muslim. This is not a war between Israelis and Palestinians but it is a war of extermination by Islam against non-Muslims and non-Muslims must resist.

Note to johanes:

I object to the use of the term "towelheads" as I view this as a racial epithet. Please refrain from such language, because we should be tolerant towards others.

Thank you.

So, war is not the root of terrorism, according to Nick, probably war in his opinion is the source of peace, love, democracy and mutual understanding, on the model of:"You do what I tell you to do, or die!" This indeed brings peace, love, democracy and human rights. The clown, called Nick, further defecates:"It is the immorality of men that makes them think that targetting and killing innocent noncombatants is a fair tactic." Nobody thought it was fair. We are not living in a fair world. But when your occupier or invader are immoral bastards marginalizing your humanity to less than that of their pets, why would people under such tratment be moral or just? A human being is a human being as long as he is allowed to be one, treated as such and recognized for that. The ancient Latins used to say:"Homo homini lupus" However, I know this would be beyond your education and mental capabilities, Nick. You are not only stupid, you are also proud of being one, that makes you an idiot. Why did the Viet Nam veterans reach to have psychological illnesses? For the simple fact that their humanity was in question by their own consciousness, not by you or me or anybody else! That's the greatest judgement a human can be subjected to: his own consciousness. That's exactly what the suicidal terrorists are doing, they avert that sort of living hell(the judgement of their own consciousness) by taking themselves out in the inhumane action of killing innocent people. Personally, I would not want to be in the shoes of any US soldier that participated in any assault. He will never have a good night sleep, you can bet your teeth on it, Nick, my feeble minded friend. In some respect you are right, war is not the root of terrorism, IT IS TERRORISM. Sheer and simple. Any soldier in combat must face the prospect of dying, now don't tell me that the US soldiers are kamikaze! Every human, if human, fears death, like any life form, an amoeba fear death. Brought on to fear for your life, is terrorism!

nick cameron fails to see that the perveyer of terrorism today is the united states of america. while the killing of noncombatants by those who claim to be muslims is deplorable, nothing surpasses the millions killed by american soldiers and their willing public. 3 million civilians were butchered by the worst weapons imaginable in vietnam, to what end? there still exists a communist state. how many civilians have died in american conquests since the civil war? we've bombed 22 countries in the past 40 yrs. how many democracies arose from those bombings nick cameron? christian armies and their cheerleader tax payer citizery have waged wars of genocide for 2 millenia. lets not go blaming a few 'towelhead' fanatics for all the worlds ills.

terrorism isnt islamic, suicide bombing isnt islamic. prophet muhammad (saws) said of the one who commits suicide, that he'll continue to do so perpetually in hell. suicide is just about the worst thing a muslim can do. its a new thing found mainly among arabs. you'll never see bosnian muslims blowing themselves up, nor phillipine muslims following this inane tactic. its counterproductive and a symbol of the decadence of faith in muslims today.
whats more, every known cleric of standing has vehemently disagreed with suicide and the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants. it only serves to harm more muslims.

The root of terrorism is not war. It is the immorality of men that makes them think that targetting and killing innocent noncombatants is a fair tactic. Unfortunately, I believe that there are too many in the Muslim world who subscribe to the morally bankrupt view that terrorism is excusable. America has the most powerful military in the world, but it can't change the hearts of evildoers through the barrel of a gun. At best it can serve as freedom's answer to fear. Nonetheless, only the Muslim world can eliminate the roots of terror from their own communities.

salamu alaykum
after perusing through the posts, it clearly becomes evident why the ummah is in the state it is today. you have muslims actually clamoring if not outright cheering the nonbeliever nations in their visions of crusade and grandeur against muslim populated countries. authubillah. its like one vast spiritual lobotomy. any muslim who wishes - for whatever reason - for a nonbeliever army, to destroy a muslim state has to be only marginally sane. lets pray that allah (swt) puts us all back on the right path. ameen.

Salaamu alaikum,

First of all, have you heard of that Arabic saying: "who lost something cannot offer it". America does not have great values to share with its own citizens so how can it possibly spread them among Iraqis and Palestinians?

Second point: You see how soft and beautiful the snake's skin is but does that mean you should ignore its deadly venom. How can one trust the United Snakes of America to run its national affairs and not be called a fool? Even if your country is called an ally, it's just a question of time before it gets stung by America's evil and lethal politicians? The Shah of Iran, Muboto of Congo and Aristide of Haiti have learned their lessons little too late.

Last point because I don't have more time to waste ..: You can't assemble your Coalition of the Killing and call it Coalition of the Willing and you can't lead a war on innocent civilians on behalf of Israel and call it War on Terror when you own government is the World's leading terrorist state? Do you make any sense at all? I dont think so!!


r.i. Although I appreciate your concern for the continued threat to the public safety in Spain. However, if you want to consider the following, the people that allegedly planted the bombs wanted Spain to pull out from Iraq. But before that the beef was already started with Spains support for US that was consider as a treason to the Arabs. Let me be more specific, a soveriegn country has the right to agree or disagree with either party(US or Iraq). But in the moment one country militarily supports either of the two become an ally to one and a foe to the other. Spain was perceived as a foe. With the tragic bombing in Madrid, the government changed, but seemingly not Spain's policies in Iraq. The Spanish troops are still in Iraq and they can become very deadly to the Iraqi insurgeants. This is the broad idea. Now if you want me to opine on the ethicality or morality of these acts I must totally disapprove and condemn them at any level. Killing unaware civilians to make a political point is psychotic. I would say that also killing of innocent civilians in military assaults is moraly wrong and degrading to the fighting soldiers. War is wrong in its very concept. It should have been done away with in the last century. Unfortunately this ugly instrument of death is following us like a shadow from the past. I am not with the Iraqis, I am not with the Americans, I am against the War, period! The root of all terror!
Peace out!

Alas Washington's warning has come true. the US government is infested with Zionists and neocons like a toilet with cockroaches. No disenfectant has been discovered yet. When the American public wakes up then they will smell the stench of foreign policy that neocons have created. They are the only disenfectant.

Truth is that neither UK nor Australia or any other menial country in this phoney alliance have the guts to send their soldiers into ME without US leadership. They are the 'have-been' empires, without the US their barking would only go as far as their tail.

But might is not necessarily right and this one is ain't for sure. Justice is not their intention and anything that is not built on justice is like a buidling on a weak foundation. Sooner or later it will fall.

Address the rue causes of terrorism adn it will disappear. restore justice and there will be no grievances. Do they see simple solutions or does it take nuking Falluja like one US senator said? what then next? more terrorists. these days any one who defends their truf from illegal US/Zionist occupation is a terrorist at worst or an outlaw at best. Like the cowboys give an Indian a bad name and you can shoot him. No sympathy from the nice average american. they are brain-washed by their Zionist owned media.

salamu alaykum.
well written, but a little disengeneous. not every american politician is as academically bankrupt as bush, everyone's well aware of the dangers of allying themselves with foreign elements. the real issue not raised is why have american law makers made alliances, knowing quite well there would be reprisals, since the civil war?
the answer is simple. 1 - theres money to be made. law makers often represent the top 1% of the financially blessed in america, they'd be money in it for them.
2 - to be the largest, richest and most powerful nation in the planet, you have to make strategic alliances with 'evildoers' and the such, you have to impose yourself on every nation on the planet. - which eventually, reverts to american law makers making $$$.

the author represents a large muslim org, and it would be a little naive of him to write down what he really thinks. myself on the other hand, have no qualms about outting the ethically vacant american commodity machine. :)


I disagree, regardless of foreign policy such politics shouldn't be the motivation to commit terror. I do agree, that such a failed, unjust and biased act of "politicking" with other foreign nationals is not an ideal way to expand positive outcomes. But then again nations such as America are capitalist, therefore each nation that perhaps America sees benefit in will advance its interest. Militarily America is this way. We see the alliance with Israel, and many in the Arab world who oppose Israel seeing this will oppose America. Well, usually this results in the generalization that America is either controlled or supports Israeli ideals. But the problem with terrorism is that terrorist, get their point across not at those who decide these factors but at those who are the general population who has nothing to do with making desicions. Many Arab countries make the argument that "you chose your president, hence you support his foreign policy." Well wrong. The electoral college chose the president and us Americans vote based on state popularity. Aside from political "whatifs" and ideals we must understand that ignorance is bliss and that terrorist do not act in diplomatic fashion. No matter what America does whether the policy changes there is always some nation that will not like another country. The question we (Americans) can ask Arab nationals, "Would it be better if our policy changed to favor you, or should our policy reflect on a universal perspective?"

I believe that Australia, the country of the author, should do whatever it believes is in its national interests. However, I would remind all allies of America in the War on Terror that if they decide to leave the fight against Al Qaida and other extremist elements, then America is capable of going it alone. But in such a case, no county will have a say in how America conducts its struggle against her enemies. In other worlds, it will become a unilaterlism by default scenario for my country.

In the end, such things may suit our neocons just fine.

R.I. FROM U.S.A. said:
yes, but spain still gets bombs planted on it's railways. their capitulation to terrorists has just egged them on.

I totally agree with Mr.Butler. I hope the "genius" people of America understand this simple logic.

Awesome!!! Amir Butler you are a great writer and Allah has blessed you with a fantastic gift - You have actually explained that the people of the world need to realize that once their nations stop engaging in military operations by means of their troops, fleets, equipment, and spying, OCCUPATION, installation of dictatotorial governments in their nations to subjugate the people; all to help the United States of America who launched both war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan and continually aid Israel and grant them successions such as the recent acceptance of Israeli military policies in Iraq by the US Central Authority in Iraq, and the acceptance by the US govt. to consider Ariel Sharon's plan of not accepting Palestine as a legitimate state are alarming, disturbing, adn revealing of hte nature of hte relationship between America and it's oppressive foreign ruling friends, and governments, and nations who support them.

For all those reasons listed above, the people of such nations who aid the Western powers in thier crusade by placing their troops in those countries should be aware and realize that because this has happened, when you're in war, you cannot simply accept hte people of that nation to share your views and come running to you with open arms while your military's shoot their people unjustly and occupy their lands with brute military rule. Bottom line is, do not be so surprised if the same injustices committed against people in other countries by your governments, is reason enough for certain groups to react in an equal manner upon civilians in the countries that partake in injustices against them. Isn't that exactly what the USA and Britain did to Ottoman Khilafate, Japan,former Soviet Union, Palestine (formerly part of Ottoman Khilafate, and torn apart again)?

As a Canadian, I can ask a question similar to Amir Butler's...Can Americans live with bringing their soldiers home, admitting the fact that they made a mistake?