Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

U.S. Must Fight Terrorism’s Causes, Lieberman Says

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) discusses the U.S.’s terrorism campaign yesterday. Lieberman was one of nine senators to travel to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops.

U.S. Senator and former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) said Monday in a Gaston Hall speech that the United States must employ a broad, multi-front campaign against terrorism and its causes if it wants to preserve its security.

Specifically, Lieberman said, the U.S. will have to go beyond simple military campaigns against regimes that harbor terrorists.

“I will propose that, as we continue the critical work of rooting out our terrorist enemies militarily, we launch a long-term geopolitical and ideological initiative – akin to the great campaign that won the Cold War against communism – to combat the despotism, poverty and isolation that terrorists exploit,” he said.

“In other words, while we drain the swamp, we must also seed the garden.”

Lieberman was careful to distinguish between moderate Muslims and extremist terrorists, calling Islam “a powerful and positive presence all across the globe.”

Last week, Lieberman was one of nine U.S. senators to travel to six Central Asian nations, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he visited both American troops as well as the leaders of each country.

He said that the United States should make a strong commitment to supporting moderate Islamic regimes and to ensuring that what he termed “American values” are promoted everywhere within the world.

“We can and must demonstrate to ordinary people throughout the Islamic world that the United States will take risks to support their freedom, aspirations and quality of life. We must make those values a premise of our alliances and a condition of our aid,” he said. “The inalienable, God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we declared our independence for don’t end at America’s borders.”

Lieberman said that there is a deep conflict within the Muslim world between moderates, who he said make up the majority of uslims, and extremists.

“This moderate majority – which understands that there is great promise for progress for nations that undergo internal modernization and seek to engage with the rest of the world – is under assault by the ethocentric, extremist few who blame esternal powers … for all their ills,” he said. “And they see Jihad – the virtueless cycle of violence, repression and revenge – as the only answer.”

Lieberman analogized the situation in many Islamic countries to the efforts of the former Soviet Union to exert control over other communist nations, saying that a “theological iron curtain” has descended across the Muslim world.

Echoing former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s description of the spread of the Iron Curtain in 1946, Lieberman said that “today, from Iraq in the Persian Gulf to terrorist camps in the mountains of Central Asia, from the sands of Somalia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia to cells in Singapore and Indonesia and Hamburg and London, the fanatical forces of Jihad are trying to build a `theological iron curtain’ to divide the Muslim world from the rest of the globe.”

Lieberman also offered several specific proposals that he said the U.S. should pursue in order to defeat terrorism once and for all.

He said the U.S. must make sure that the al Qaeda terror network, suspected in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and which has been disrupted in Afghanistan, does not regroup in nearby nations such as Pakistan, other Central Asian nations or sympathetic regimes elsewhere. He said that a continued U.S. presence in the region is necessary to finish the job of defeating al Qaeda. “We have no hegemonic designs in Central Asia, but our limited presence there can be a critical guarantor against the rise of any other potential hegemonic powers,” he said.

He unequivocally expressed his support for expanding the war on terrorism to Iraq, saying, “this war against terrorism will not be over until [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein is removed from power in Iraq.” He also said that the U.S. must be prepared to move against Iraq even without the support of the international community.

“Of course, it is better to build coalitions and act collaboratively when engaging in conflict for a cause,” he said. “But in this case, the unique threat to American security by Saddam Hussein’s regime is so real, grave and imminent that, even if no other nation were to stand with us, we must be prepared to act alone, and we are fully capable of doing so.”

He also expressed his support for President Bush, who narrowly defeated then-Vice President Al Gore and Lieberman in the closest presidential election in U.S. history, saying, “I am confident that President Bush can and will give this critical cause the leadership and advocacy it deserves.”

Lieberman said that nations such as Iran and Syria cannot continue to support terrorist groups in the Middle East if they want to improve relations with the U.S. He said that the Palestinian Authority must take measures to curtail terrorism against Israel, “or our relations with the Authority will sadly end.”

He encouraged Islamic-majority nations to modernize their economies and develop free trade alliances within the region to promote economic growth. He said that economic stagnation and poverty have been among the primary causes of the “fanaticism” he said enables terrorism.

Similarly, he said that the failure of globalization to take root in the region has also contributed to its poverty. Responding to critics who contend that globalization has adverse effects on the developing world, Lieberman said, “In reality, the economic problem of the Muslim world is not that there’s too much globalization, but that there’s too little.”

Lieberman also said that the U.S. should engage in what he called “public diplomacy” by sponsoring cultural exchange programs, American-influenced media within Muslim countries and making clear “to our many allies in the Muslim world that we will no longer close our eyes and ears to the anti-American propaganda in their state-run media and state-sponsored mosques and madrasses.”

Quoting the Muslim maxim to “commend good and reprimand evil,” Lieberman said that the U.S. has done so in the wake of terrorism. “Since Sept. 11., the United States has been working hard to reprimand evil with a fierce and focused military campaign,” he said. “Over the long term, the fight for American security will require a parallel campaign to commend good by supporting freedom, tolerance, democracy and prosperity throughout the Muslim world.”

He said that Georgetown, where more than 2,000 international students study, is a good example of “how valuable student exchanges are in opening the world to American strengths and values, and in opening Americans to the strengths and values of other countries and cultures.”

He said it was an honor to speak at Georgetown “because of my respect for this great university and the Jesuits who for so long have constructively combined within it both profound faith and free inquiry.”

Lieberman, who lives in the Georgetown neighborhood, can often be seen walking through campus along with his wife Hadassah, who was in attendance at the speech along with their son Ethan.

After the speech, Lieberman, who has represented Connecticut in the Senate since 1988, held a reception in Riggs Library for Connecticut students, as well as other selected students.

The speech was sponsored by the Lecture Fund, and Lieberman was introduced by Lecture Fund Vice Chair for External Affairs Andrew Koneschusky (MSB ’03) and Alex Levine (COL ’02), who formerly interned for Lieberman.

Lieberman also fielded questions from the student audience, including questions about civil rights in the wake of Sept. 11, the future of the American economy and women’s rights in moderate Arab states. Gaston Hall was approximately two-thirds full for the speech.

Lieberman was first elected to the Senate in 1988, and was reelected in 1994 and 2000. Prior to his service in the Senate, he was Connecticut’s Attorney General and State Senate Majority Leader.

He is currently the Chairman of the Senate’s Governmental Affairs Committee and was the first Jewish major-party nominee for national office. He is the author of five books, including In Praise of Public Life, released during the 2000 presidential campaign.

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