Let's look at some facts instead of just accepting broad platitudes, shall we?
Terrorists attacked us on September 11, 2001. Did they do so because they considered us weak? Since we were, at the time, the self-declared "world's only superpower," would it not seem likely that we were considered very powerful indeed? Is it not this very power--military, economic, and social--that scares the bejeebers out of those who would attack us? If weakness were the problem, wouldn't we see daily bombings in Monaco or Lichtenstein?
No. As usual, Mr. Cheney has the problem by the wrong end. He can't imagine a problem that can't be solved with the murder of a few more people. There are other points of view, and I find some of them compelling.
For example, I have recently had the privilege of visiting the King Center here in Atlanta and have had the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with that man's vision. He said many wonderful things, and here's one that speaks to a philosophy that Mr. Cheney will never understand. What Dr. King said was this:
* The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
o "Strength to Love" (1963)
This is the thing that our current leaders refuse to understand. The answer to terrorism is not war, but love. Social justice will do more to destroy al Qaeda than any number of soldiers and weapons will and will be a much more effective means of spreading democracy, if that really is their true goal. A nation as wealthy and powerful as ours has to develop the courage to try to see other nations not as possible subjects or clients, but as partners. We will do more to improve our security by raising others up than by trying to dominate or control.
Better economic conditions in Mexico and Central America would do much to end illegal immigration. Better economic conditions throughout the Islamic world would do much to undermine al Qaeda and other extremists. It is interesting to note that in England, where Muslims are economically disadvantaged and feel themselves oppressed, home-grown terrorists have sprouted to commit and plan terrible acts. Meanwhile, in the United States, where Muslims have prospered and feel themselves to be afforded open opportunities, home-grown born-Muslim terrorists are unknown.
In the course of the so-called American Century, the United States had only one, true foreign policy victory, and that was the Marshall Plan. By building our enemies up, we made them our friends. Prosperity is the greatest weapon we have.