Ending the War on Terrorism | Teen Ink

Ending the War on Terrorism MAG

July 28, 2009
By Kelsey Freeman BRONZE, Carbondale, Colorado
Kelsey Freeman BRONZE, Carbondale, Colorado
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Since 9/11, fighting terrorism has become a top priority in our nation. Each year, the U.S. spends billions of dollars on the war in Iraq, attempting to dismantle the extremist groups that threaten us. However, we have had troops in Iraq for eight years and still terrorist groups continue to operate.

People in 22 of the 23 countries ­surveyed believe that the war in Iraq hasn't weakened the terrorist group al-Qaeda, according to a global poll by the BBC World Service. If eight years of war have had little effect on terrorism, it's obvious that America needs a new approach. To truly work toward a solution, we must help stabilize Muslim countries associated with terrorist networks. The most effective way to fight terrorism in the Middle East is to help these countries create a thriving economy, a functional government, and a successful educational system.

The war in Iraq is a temporary attempt at solving the problem of terrorism. Even if troops disable certain terrorist groups, they can't prevent new ones from forming. In fact, military suppression of a country tends to lead to more support for extremist groups. “Building a gauntlet of security around the U.S. and pounding Muslims into submission isn't going to make the world any safer,” wrote journalist Todd Wilkinson in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

To truly work through the issue of terrorism, America must look at its roots. Extremist groups exist in every religion. It is only when these groups gain power that they become dangerous. This tends to occur when a country is unstable. For example, after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Taliban took control of the region. If America provides support to countries experiencing instability, we will help prevent terrorist groups from taking power.

According to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007, “Extremism, militancy, terrorism and dictatorship feed off one another in an environment of poverty, hopelessness and economic disparity among social classes.” Therefore, in order to disarm terrorism, we must combat these factors.

The first step to accomplishing this is to support the creation of educational systems that allow children to rise above the social and economic situation of their parents. Today, ­Pakistan spends 1,400 percent more on its military budget than on education, according to Bhutto in her book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. As a result, poor communities that don't have access to schools either go uneducated or turn to militant schools, known as madrassas. In the words of Bhutto, “From illiteracy and poverty stem hopelessness and from hopelessness come desperation and extremism.”

Some militant madrassas are seen as breeding grounds for terrorists because rather than focusing on education, they “manipulate religion to brainwash children” into soldiers, according to Bhutto. The U.S. needs to take the first step in providing international support to help Pakistan and other Islamic governments prioritize spending on education. In doing so, it would begin to prevent extremism. “There's nothing which disarms hatred more thoroughly than the promise of attaining a better life through peace,” according to Wilkinson.

Strengthening education in the Middle East will also boost local economies. When educated children surpass the economic status of their parents, a middle class is created. Micro loan programs can also aid the creation of a middle class, which is ­essential to a strong workforce and a stable country.

A strong middle class is also essential for a successful democracy. While the U.S. should not force democracy on any country, by supporting stable, civil governments, we can keep terrorist networks from moving into power. In Saudi Arabia in 2007, a woman who had been gang raped was ­sentenced by the government to 60 lashes and six months in jail. Stability cannot exist in this type of unjust government. As the book Enhancing Peace insightfully articulates, “Letting social inequities and injustices fester provides a rich breeding ground for terrorists.”

There is currently a strong sense in the Muslim world that the West wishes to impose its values on other societies and undermine Islamic culture. Many moderate Muslims see the global war on terror as a war on Islam, according to Bhutto. This is not the image that will help the U.S. build allies.

America needs to build a strong relationship with the Middle East to combat terrorism. When we earn the trust of moderate Muslims, we can join with them to overthrow extremist groups. This method aided the U.S. immensely during the war in Afghan­istan when we sided with the Northern Alliance (the anti-Taliban coalition made up of several Islamic ethnic groups) to overthrow the Taliban.

How can we create the type of dramatic change in perception that's needed? The answer is to invest against terrorism by stabilizing the Middle East. As Bhutto wrote, “When ordinary people identify assistance improving their lives and the lives of their children, they bond with the source of that aid.” This type of connection could bring a dramatic turnaround in perceptions of America. In fact, substantial evidence supports this. After the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan that killed 90,000 people, the U.S. donated half a billion dollars for reconstruction, and American soldiers delivered assistance to freezing and starving survivors. A poll conducted by ACNielsen immediately afterward showed that favorable views of the U.S. increased by over 50 percent. The same poll indicated “a precipitous drop in support for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” according to Bhutto. Direct and visible support from the U.S. creates dramatic changes in perceptions over a short period of time.

Creating and supporting organizations that stabilize the Middle East should be regarded by the U.S. as long-term investments against terrorism. Through the Marshall Plan, implemented in Europe after World War II, the U.S. spent about $13 billion to aid the recovery of European countries. The modern-day equivalent of that amount is about $185 billion. This money could be spent on rebuilding the Middle East, and if this cost were shared by North America, the European Union, Japan and China, the U.S. would contribute just $37 billion, compared to the estimated $2 trillion for the war in Iraq by the time it has ended.

But a solution shouldn't just be about writing checks. It should be about Americans working with Iraqi citizens to support visible, clear, and direct programs that give people what they need. This type of solution not only makes sense for the U.S. but is morally right. To paraphrase Greg Mortenson – who has spent the last decade building schools in Afghan­istan and Pakistan – money can fund wars; it can also prevent them.

Similar Articles


This article has 85 comments.

on Jul. 28 2011 at 12:09 am
We should keep religion and politics separate. Things would be so much better.

on Jun. 13 2011 at 5:58 pm
booksmaya SILVER, San Leandro, California
6 articles 1 photo 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There is a way to be good again."

To put it simply, your article is very well written, but very unrealistic. Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, is a fraud. I along with many readers believed his story on the idea of focusing on the education of children to end the recruitment of the Taliban and, yet that was found to be a complete lie. He not only took the money that was fundraised for his 'supposed' humanitarian work, but he also did not build the schools he said he did. The war on terror is not likely to end soon because as the ongoing Middle Eastern uprisings, most of these nations will become unstable, leading to a leader who may be of extremist views. That being said, I also believe that America has funded Pakistan in hopes of them becoming our Middle Eastern ally, but seemingly that has not been possible due to the fact that we found Osama Bin Laden hiding there all along. In a greater future, I hope this is possible, but now we need to focus on peacefully removing our soldiers, so that we could hopefully find stability in our country. 

Hejlna BRONZE said...
on May. 22 2011 at 1:01 pm
Hejlna BRONZE, Portland, Maine
1 article 0 photos 18 comments
you should join a debate team, you've got me convinced.

Hejlna BRONZE said...
on May. 22 2011 at 1:00 pm
Hejlna BRONZE, Portland, Maine
1 article 0 photos 18 comments
totally, I agree.

Hejlna BRONZE said...
on May. 22 2011 at 12:59 pm
Hejlna BRONZE, Portland, Maine
1 article 0 photos 18 comments
I just read three cups of tea. After reading that and your article I agree with the entire thing.

Bu...Bu...Be said...
on May. 14 2011 at 9:20 pm
Bu...Bu...Be, Grand Junction, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments
No offense but i disagree with basically the whole letter.

on Apr. 30 2011 at 8:31 pm
Sri Palanisamy SILVER, Sewickely, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 14 comments
Yeah and all the civilians we kill in those countries in the process really make us seem like the good guys. The war on terrorism will be won in the hearts and minds of Iraqis/Pakistanis. When they refuse to allow terrorist thugs to dictate their lives, Al-Qaeda and others won't have the support necessary to function. You want to know how to accomplish that? Education and reform, proposed by the author.

on Apr. 30 2011 at 7:34 pm
AthenaBook SILVER, Arlington, Virginia
5 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
You should not live the way the world asks, but the way that you ask of yourself.

This is a very well researched and very passonite article. You have done really well at diplomatically presenting very convincing points. A job well done!

wiggyiiees said...
on Apr. 30 2011 at 4:48 pm
wiggyiiees, St. Helena, California
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
-Ronald Reagan

Starlight your a moron some Muslims may practice love and peace but Muhammad and the early Muslims spread there religion by violence and terror. 

wiggyiiees said...
on Apr. 30 2011 at 4:39 pm
wiggyiiees, St. Helena, California
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
-Ronald Reagan

I agree with you.

on Apr. 8 2011 at 11:26 am
ConsEcon SILVER, Roslyn, New York
6 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This is both hypocritical and idealistic. I agree that a reformed education system could combat terrorism, but it's these terrorist groups themselves that create this propoganda. Let's use your example of Pakistan. You say we must combat these forces of terrorism...but these terrorist groups take refuge in these countries and are actually funded by them. Want stability? Take out the terrorist groups-with force. You mention Afghanistan and correctly point out that we removed al Qaeda and the Taliban from power, but then say war isn't the best option. That's not true; force is why we saw results. You complain about the war in Iraq, but that war has not only built a democracy but has also created an ally for the United States. You also say economic aid is the way to go and proceed to mention Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the leader of OPEC; they have the money, but their government won't spend it on its people and it never will without forceful nature to make them change. In a perfect world we could simply give these terrorist nations money and they would spend it on their people, but that's not the way it works. Rather, economic sanctions, like the ones we use in Iran (that our Secretary of State Clinton has said have worked). Free trade improves human rights, but these nations control the market, so there won't be any improvements. Force has led to results, and we must use military actions to confront threats before they materialize on American soil.

on Apr. 8 2011 at 10:17 am
Same here , i feel the same way !

on Apr. 8 2011 at 10:14 am
This is very good !

on Apr. 1 2011 at 10:21 pm
simplyfeel SILVER, Peachtree City, Georgia
5 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed. "
Christopher McCandless "Into the Wild"

Very well written. You definetly did your research. I really enjoyed this.

on Mar. 17 2011 at 8:25 am
lovelifelollypops BRONZE, Northampton, Virginia
2 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Forever and almost always

seems to me Bhutto could defintely talk the talk like most pakistani politicains but never did she walk the walk.

americans need to butt out a little and FYI there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.

But a well written piece all the same x

skittz124 said...
on Feb. 1 2011 at 3:20 pm
WOWWWW its not ISRAEL and PAKISTAN fighting over the land, its israel and palstine!!! Pakistan and india are fighting over KASHMIR if thts what u mean, get ur facts right

on Jan. 10 2011 at 9:16 pm
lunar_moon BRONZE, Austin, Texas
4 articles 3 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you think you can you can, and if you think you can't, you're right." -Mary Kay Ash

I must say that this is fantastically written, even though I don't have time right this instant to read the entire thing. Have you considered joining a debate team for extemporaneous speaking?

Hollyss SILVER said...
on Dec. 19 2010 at 11:00 am
Hollyss SILVER, Stafford, Virginia
8 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fiction reveals what reality obscures"-Jessamyn West
"You can't leap a 20-ft chasm in 2 10-ft jumps."-Anonymous

This is great, and I agree with your views. We should be helping, not hurting.

inksplatter said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 1:01 pm
I agree completely with your opinion. It's time to get our troops out of there! You're article was well written and well backed up with plenty of quotes! Job well done!

on Nov. 11 2010 at 8:11 am
Jakethesnake SILVER, Hernando, Mississippi
6 articles 0 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Read, Read... Read everything, then write."-William Faulkner

I know. I just thought you were going to say that there wasn't any Al Qaeda member on there.