War Riddles

Ten Questions the Media Can't Answer

Who's to blame for Al Qaeda drug profits? Teenage drug users, of course. At least that's the message behind the administration's new drug strategy. According to Bush's logic, because Al Qaeda leaders sell opium to pay for their war chest, U.S. kids can help fight terror by not buying illegal drugs. In the March Vanity Fair, Maureen Orth draws a different conclusion. On location in Tajikistan, Orth reports that the best way to control the opium boom is to get dirty intelligence agencies out of the business and make drug control a condition of U.S. assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Reason's Jacob Sullum has taken this a step further, arguing that if we want to impoverish Islamic terrorists, we should stop fighting the drug war altogether, because it artificially inflates profits in the black market.

Is Indonesia a terrorist state? Recent stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post have vilified that mystical archipelago as a loosely patrolled beachhead for Al Qaeda, where bearded clerics groom young boys for a life of violence. But according to a group of Indonesian journalists who spoke at the Asia Society on January 24, the international media has exaggerated the threat of terrorism in their country. According to one reporter, some Indonesians believe that the U.S. has redefined terrorism as any economic threat to U.S. multinationals that do business in their country.

Should the U.S. continue to support Israel? Post-September 11, that's the $64,000 question. It's also the subject of a February 21 Harper's panel at the New School, during which Noam Chomsky will debate, among others, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Even with WNYC's Brian Lehrer moderating, it will be a miracle if panelists agree on anything. Like September 11 itself, Middle East policy is the nut that can't be cracked, the wound that never heals.


See also: Big John Ashcroft Wants Your Reading List by Nat Hentoff

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