A Proposal for a Non-Partisan
"Commission on U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II"
September 19, 2001
The lock-step mantra thundering
from the Bush administration and most politicians and commentators is that
the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon targeted
the United States because they hate our freedom and are jealous of our
A few public figures -- not
many, but perhaps a slowly growing number -- have dared to delve deeper into
All of these public figures
rightly condemn without equivocation the terrorist attacks, and lay 100% of
the moral responsibility for these outrageous acts on the perpetrators.
That being understood, an
acknowledgement is made that there are concrete, specific issues involved,
not just irrational hatred and jealousy:
[I]n the Arab and wider
Muslim worlds... bitter political grievances abound, among them: the
United States' support of Israel; its troop presence in the "holy
land" of the Arabian peninsula; its military encirclement and
economic strangulation of Iraq; and its alliances with governments
across the Middle East and Asia that are widely perceived as corrupt.
[John Burns, The
New York Times, September 16, 2001]
Similarly, James Robison, a
well-known evangelist and host of "Life Today," a Christian
television program, speaks of our "sins" of
relationships with Third World and foreign countries, plundering other
countries for resources while supporting their despots, and indifference
to others' poverty and pain.
New York Times, September 15. 2001]
Patrick J. Buchanan asks:
What motivates that kind
of hatred? Why did they do it? Why do they hate us so much?
How can all our meddling
not fail to spark some horrible retribution?
[on Hannity &
Colmes, September 19, 2001]
Where should our asking these
questions lead us? Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) provides a clue:
Mr. Kerrey, a combat
veteran of Vietnam, also pointed out the psychological challenge for
leaders and a public that have been quick to denounce the attacks as the
work of cowards or madmen.
"I condemn it
morally, and I do think it was cowardly," Mr. Kerrey said.
"But physically, it was the opposite of cowardly, and if you don't
understand that, then you don't understand the intensity of the cause
and then you're papering over one of the most important things. There is
hatred out there against the United States, and yes, we have to deal
with terrorism in a zero-tolerance fashion. But there is anger, too, and
they ought to have a place for a hearing on that anger, in the
International Court or wherever we give them a hearing."
New York Times, September 15, 2001]
Following those last words of
Sen. Kerrey, I propose that at an appropriate time -- not immediately, but
soon after the immediate threat of bin Laden and associates has been taken
care of -- a non-partisan "Commission on United States Foreign Policy
After World War II" be established.
I say non-partisan as opposed
to bi-partisan, because a far greater spectrum of input would be appropriate
than just from the Democratic and Republican parties.
All elements of the U.S.
political spectrum should be invited to present their facts and analysis on
a country-by-country basis. And it shouldn't end there.
In a manner similar to that
of certain commissions which have been set up in Third World countries after
internal strife has ended, citizens of other countries who feel they have
been victims of U.S. foreign policy should be invited to present their
testimony and data.
The mandate of the commission
I am advocating would be not only to try to come to a consensus on where
U.S. foreign policy in the last 56 years has gone right and where it has
gone wrong, but also, to make recommendations for the future.
Would Congress ever set up
such a commission?
If not, who could?
By what process would
commission members be chosen?
How could the number of
individuals and groups desiring to present evidence be kept to a manageable
All of these questions and a
myriad of other concerns must be addressed.
I make this proposal here in
only the most rudimentary form, in an attempt to start making something
positive come out of an event last week so tragic.
In that spirit, all
suggestions for how such a commission could be set up and operate would be
most welcome. They will be incorporated into future writings on this