According to U.S. media reports, the couple responsible for the shooting in San Bernardino, California is believed to have been influenced and motivated by radical Islamic thought. U.S. President Barack Obama issued a rare national address on terrorism yesterday (Dec. 7), declaring his determination to win the war against the Islamic State and other extremist organizations. But at its source, the rapid growth of the Islamic State group has direct links to U.S. missteps in its Middle East policy. Namely, the United States’ active encouragement of “color revolutions” in the Middle East from 2011 onward, its injudicious support of radical Islamic forces for its own ends, the toppling of several states’ legitimate governments, the exporting of so-called American democracy and erecting a facade of fighting terrorism while working toward securing U.S. hegemony across the globe has lost the United States the backing of international justice and seen increased terrorist activity worldwide. Only by doing some serious soul-searching with regard to its Middle East policies and hegemonic designs, abandoning its double standard in counterterrorism operations and bolstering cooperative efforts to fight terrorism with the rest of the international community can the United States truly root out terrorism, and win real peace and development for itself and other nations.
This marks the third time that Obama has reiterated his resolve to fight terrorism in a national address since taking office, making apparent the level of import he places upon that task. Indeed, these repeated shootings and terrorist attacks are a veritable sword of Damocles that represents a very clear and present danger to the lives and security of American civilians. In fact, U.S. counterterrorism efforts were underway as early as the 1980s. And especially following the 9/11 attacks, US authorities viewed the fight against terrorism even more as one of the foremost imperatives within their national strategy, launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in quick succession to root out the so-called “dangerous elements” and “axis of evil”-supporting terrorists, hoping to eradicate these threats to U.S. security one by one. However, they have not only failed to effectively suppress various terrorist attacks within the U.S. homeland, but to the contrary, these incidents have continued to rise in frequency. The United States in its war on terror has already sunk into a morass where further struggle has only worsened its predicament, and so it is now back to square one after having seen its guiding thought and policies on counterterrorism stray too far afield.
All along, the United States has been operating under the guise of fighting terrorism while openly wielding its military might as a bludgeon, allowing it to remold geopolitical boundaries, draw lines between friends and enemies, increase its presence in various regions and manipulate relationships between powers. Whether promoting its “Greater Middle East Initiative” or wantonly toppling the governments of other states, its objective is none other than pursuing its own hegemonic agenda, hoping to maximize so-called U.S. interests that are heavily comprised of resources plundered from other regions. This is effectively a new form of colonialism. Moreover, in order to accomplish its “pivot to Asia” strategy and stall the pace of development for China and other nations, the United States still heavily abuses a double standard on counterterrorism-related issues, issuing stepped attacks based only on the threat to itself. It has gone so far as to cover for separatist forces that have engaged in terrorist activities, not only exacerbating ethnic and religious conflicts and diversifying and globalizing terrorism, but also infecting other nations with violence. One could say that while a victim of terrorism itself, the United States is also unquestionably responsible for inciting many deadly incidents around the world. Moreover, using counterterrorism as an excuse to consolidate its hegemony and pursue its own selfish interests will lose the United States the moral sympathy of the international community and the faith of its allies.
Terrorism is now the greatest threat to the world, and the Islamic State group is the enemy of people in every nation. The United States should ruminate upon the nature of the quicksand it finds itself sinking into and reverse its lone wolf course, embrace multilateralism in the place of belligerent unilateralism, rethink its “fight fire with fire” counterterrorism tactics and discard double standards. It should organize a broad international coalition to fight terrorism, establish political trust and mechanisms for cooperating on counterterrorism efforts, and work with the international community toward unraveling regional ethnic and religious conflicts, political disputes, the wealth disparity and other fundamental issues in order to eliminate breeding grounds for terrorists. If the United States persists in its policies of unilateral action and double standards, it will never be able to do more than address the symptoms of terrorism no matter how much force is applied, and as such will only harm itself in the end.
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