Fighting terrorism? Promote democracy!

Fighting terrorism? Promote democracy!

By Ron Tenin

Fighting terrorism? Promote democracy!

America’s dependence on Saudi oil has fanned the flame of discontent among the have-nots of the Arab world. At least 12 of the 19 suicide bombers on Sept. 11th hailed from Saudi Arabia. The ruling kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s heavy handedness has created tremendous strife in their society. Huge gaps of wealth exist, where 2,000 princes control the wealth and power, and the rest of the country is subjected to human rights injustices and economic hardship.

America has turned a blind eye for too long. We know that injustice will create the recipe for disaster. Let’s learn from the Civil War and the civil rights struggle. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. They can’t leave their homes without a male relative as escort, or risk public beheading. Commit adultery, and they fill a stadium with cheering men enjoying mass beheadings. How long can we look the other way?

How long can the world stay peaceful when America, the greatest country on earth, ignores tremendous injustices because it serves our short-term economic interest? Why do we not understand that many in this world doubt our sincerity and credibility when we look the other way when it serves our conspicuous consumption?

We must gain greater independence from Saudi Arabia so we’re in a position to promote justice and economic fairness for all workers. Countries like Saudi Arabia need to be pushed into the 21st century. One hundred twenty-five years of rule by the same family has created a corrupt regime that creates poverty and hatred among its own people. It should be little surprise that this dangerous brew boils over, creating worldwide dangers many never thought possible.

If it’s a real war on terrorism, we must analyze why this tremendous hatred exists for the “winners” in the world. We might neutralize the terror network for now, but what happens when the next generations grow up under these same circumstances?

Democracy is the antidote for people feeling the need to create terror. All who work hard deserve a bit of economic prosperity and personal freedoms. If this means we must force Detroit to improve gas efficiency, then let’s do it. If it means discontinuing those wasteful SUVs that suck up oil and destroy the environment, then we should do it. If we need to drill in Alaska and offshore California, then let’s not wait.

The cost associated with this pales in comparison to the cost of the World Trade Center disaster and all future potential terrorist activities. America must lead, and President Bush and future leaders must come to grips with why many in this world are scornful of a country whose wealth and freedoms so many are denied. People are resentful because they don’t have a fighting chance at the “good life.” It’s time our “friends” around the world wake up and realize that a peaceful world cannot exist when the gap between rich and poor continues to create injustice and fosters hatred.

Ron Tenin is the owner of Rockford Furniture.

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