Mar 252008
Authors: Phil Elder

I would like to present a hypothetical.

The United Nations has given the Kurdish people the Western Slope of the state of Colorado in recompense for centuries of persecution and marginalization, forcing everyone currently in the region to move to the other half of the mountain range.

Within 10 years the Kurds have murdered thousands of your friends, family and coworkers in the acquisition of the other half of the state, and now what’s left of the battered Colorado population is concentrated into Larimer County, which is surrounded by barbed wire, vicious dogs and very, very trigger happy guards. The only way out is through military barricades, where you will likely be shot on sight if you try to cross.

There is little food, no clean water, no money, no options for education and electricity is supplied and restricted at the whim of sadistic Kurdish leaders. How would you react?

Dick Cheney, in a response to a meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, has strongly reinforced America’s stance on the situation surrounding the Holy Land – that our commitment to Israel’s security is “enduring and unshakable” and that we refuse to pressure Israel into taking any steps to reduce violence against Palestine but that we advocate a “new beginning” for the Palestinian people.

He followed by asserting that the current administration would love to see “a resolution to the conflict.”

The threats to Israeli security aforementioned include attacks against both Israeli troops garrisoning the border and citizens of the country, on the occasion that a militant Palestinian is able to cross the border.

What we have repeatedly and ceaselessly failed to recognize is that terrorism doesn’t just happen – it is an armed and violent response to a perceived slight against a group of people. Though it is horrid, universally unjustified and a crime against humanity, it is never without a source.

So, in a very American tradition, instead of attempting to discern the source of this tension, this trail of destruction echoing throughout the region and into the Western world, we try to cage it up, to trap an entire people under lock and key and hope to God that the walls of their prison hold together.

This philosophy will never, ever, bring an end to violence. Don’t take my word for it, ask Nero, Czar Nicholas II, King Louis XVI, King George III, Idi Amin, Chiang Kai Shek – the list goes on.

What the United States must do to secure the region, and what no Washington politician seems to have the guts to propose, is to suggest, even demand, that Israel loosen their stranglehold on Palestinian territories, that they provide them with food, adequate shelter, clean water and reliable electricity, to apologize for treating them like the Jewish people were treated in Europe in the 1930’s and to recognize their authority and begin negotiations with their people. If they do not take these steps no peace will be found.

If you cage a tiger and torment it constantly, it will find a way out and a way to punish those who wronged it. To imprison an entire people and treat them like dogs, and to express surprise when they find a way out and react violently against the travesties experienced by their families and friends, is truly to have no grasp on reality.

Terrorism is never justified. Neither are the acts that create terrorists. But if we do not address them both, neither will ever be abolished.

Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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