Lessons the Pirates Taught Me
After hundreds of years, piracy was eradicated in the Caribbean when the big powers of the time (Britain, Spain and France) finally agreed to stop harboring them, stop sponsoring pirates against other countries, and stop taking a percentage of pirated loot. There were still "letters of marque" but the practice faded except for a few pockets, I'm told, in Southeast Asia.
Americans who ought to know better, from Eisenhower to Kissinger to Carter, have engaged in state sponsored terrorism, in looking the other way so long as terrorists attacked our enemies, and in taking profit from "outlaw" operations like the Contra "rebel" cocaine profiteers. Wasn't it the CIA in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Iran in the 1950s that led us to this pass? And aren't we even now spending billlions to build a terrorist Disneyland in Iraq?
The United States has itself used terrorists as catspaws for decades. So have the Saudis, and the French, and the Russians, and the Iranians, and Chile, and Argentina, and...
Private interest groups sponsor terrorism as well, offer shelter and wink at their excesses; consider the Miami Cubans who hate Castro so much they don't much care who gets hurt, or anti-abortionists that incite home-grown terrorists to use health care workers as target practice.
This is an ancient practice. Professional criminals often hire "bugs", sociopathic outcasts, as tools to do their dirtiest jobs. Sometimes you can point an assasin in the right direction without ever leaving a fingerprint.
When the nations start to come clean about this history and negotiate OPENLY about taking away the safe harbors, we might start to see terrorism lose its popularity as a tactic, except for the bughouse rogues like McVeigh or Andrew Kehoe, who blew up Bath, Michigan in the Twenties.
The only thing Bush and Cheney have been correct about is that stopping terrorism will take decades-- and they, bless their crippled hearts, have a talent for pouring gasoline onto a fire instead of water.