Jewish World Review Sept. 15, 2004 / 29 Elul, 5764
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Don't just sit there
It is becoming a commonplace assumption that the November presidential election will turn on the public's perception of how things are going in the war on terror. Unfortunately, unless the American people themselves urgently assume a role in waging that war's financial front, it appears the next President whoever he may be is going to confront more formidable foes in five terrorist-sponsoring states.
Consider the following recent developments:
Iran: The Islamist mullahocracy in Tehran is well on the way to achieving its longstanding ambition to establish an indigenous nuclear weapons program. It has broken successive promises to gullible European foreign ministers to forego such a capability. The Iranian regime now appears convinced it will be able to "go nuclear" with impunity despite the protests of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the likely paralysis of the UN Security Council and the difficulty of Israeli or American preemptive strikes against its nuclear facilities.
North Korea: The other remaining member of the "Axis of Evil" is also pressing ahead with its efforts to acquire a nuclear arsenal. While the massive explosion that produced a mushroom cloud there last week is said not to have been caused by a "nuclear event," press reports suggest the next one might be if, as some believe, Pyongyang is preparing to conduct a test of an atomic weapon. Like its Iranian friends, Kim Jong-Il's regime has concluded that there are little, if any, costs associated with violating its non-proliferation commitments. And, given its track record, North Korea may well act on threats to sell nuclear weapons as it gets them to terrorist organizations and others with cash.
Syria: Damascus is persisting in its efforts to prevent the consolidation of the liberation of Iraq by allowing foreign fighters to slip across its border and join the terrorists trying to kill American troops stationed there. It is assisting Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations waging a proxy war against Israel. There are persistent reports that Syria is hiding Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. And, despite a UN Security Council resolution jointly sponsored (improbably) by France and the United States, the Syrian regime continues a decades-long colonial subjugation of neighboring Lebanon (notably, by requiring the Lebanese constitution be rewritten to permit its puppet to remain president.)
Sudan: The truly monstrous Islamist government in Khartoum is getting away with murder, yet again. While diplomats wring their hands and activists gnash their teeth in frustration, hundreds of thousands of civilians in Darfur are joining the millions previously slaughtered at the hands of the regime in southern Sudan. The UN Security Council cannot bring itself to impose sanctions and as a result all other things being equal the killing seems likely truly and permanently to stop only when every single Christian, animist and black citizen of Sudan has been liquidated.
Libya: The purported abandonment by Muamar Qaddafi of his ambition to wield weapons of mass destruction has facilitated the Libyan dictator's longstanding effort to buy his way off the U.S. list of state-sponsors of terror. (In his new book, Treachery, Bill Gertz raises questions about the genuineness of this change of heart.) (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Yet, a prominent American Islamist activist, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, recently pled guilty to participating in a Qaddafi-backed plot to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Should American investment start flowing into Libyan coffers, moreover, one predictable upshot will be vastly increased resources applied to Qaddafi's pet project: the spread of radical Islam throughout the continent of Africa.
As these dangers metastasize, American voters are being asked to choose between, on the one hand, a Bush Administration that seems determined mostly to kick the can down the road hoping that the U.S. will not have to take politically costly action anywhere until after November and, on the other, a Kerry candidacy whose solutions to most international problems seems to be appeasement.
The good news is that if our government cannot or at least will not act to meet the growing threat from terrorist sponsoring states virtually every one of us can do something that might actually have an impact on such regimes and their ability to pursue activities inimical to our security and interests: We can divest the stocks of companies that do business with them, providing them with billions of dollars in resources, advanced technology (some of it militarily useful) and moral cover.
Americans hold stocks in roughly 400 companies partnered with one or more of these five terrorist-friendly regimes through institutional investments (for example, through public pension funds, college and university endowments, mutual funds, 401k plans and life insurance portfolios) as well as their own personal portfolios. As a study recently released by the Center for Security Policy (www.DivestTerror.org) reveals, America's leading public pension funds alone own roughly $200 billion in such stocks.
By taking a page out of the divestment campaigns that brought down the government of South Africa twenty years ago and that are employed today against "socially irresponsible" companies, average Americans can bring formidable financial pressure to bear against those who would use our money to do us harm. Divestment of terror stocks is not a panacea. But it can be a powerful contribution perhaps the only average citizens can make to a war effort we cannot afford to have falter, let alone fail.
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
© 2004, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.