I certainly wish it weren’t true, but my number one concern in this election is terrorism.

A strong economy, good jobs, and health care are all very nice, but they don’t count for anything in my book if you can’t depend on being alive to enjoy them. While I understand that tragic accidents happen all the time, the nexus of suicide bombing with the atomic age makes me terrified for my life and the lives of those I love.

And that is why I am doing everything in my power to elect John Kerry this November.

Bush did a capable job leading the country in the year or so after Sept. 11, 2001, but all of his subsequent actions have shown that he fundamentally misunderstands the war on terrorism.

His policy of trying to kill all the terrorists before they kill us is akin to a man who, when being bitten repeatedly by a snake, treats each bite as fast as he can but never cuts off the head of the snake.

Naturally, certain targeted military operations will often be essential in this effort. But terrorism is a highly unconventional threat, and Bush responded with a conventional war. He doesn’t seem to understand that military force will never get to the root of terrorism, the phenomenon that pushes people from political resentment to crashing a plane into a building.

You can invade as many countries as you like and kill as many people as you want, but unless you understand the causes of terrorism, you will never be able to stop it.

But understanding these root causes and addressing them directly is difficult and complicated. The public can’t applaud a swift military victory. The public may not even be aware of all the government is doing. It is a war accomplished not with smart bombs, but with smart policies.

This is where I fault the Bush administration for its tragic misunderstanding and disastrous choices.

Because of Bush’s ill-planned invasion, Iraq has now become precisely what the president implied it was beforehand, a terrorist breeding ground. What better environment for terrorists to plot their next attack on America than a country with no central authority, plenty of loose weaponry, extremely porous borders and a populace seething with rage at the occupying nation.

Furthermore, his arrogant and insensitive policies have united the Muslim world not against the terrorists, but against us.

For one moment, imagine that a country you distrusted – a country with a vastly different culture, language and religion – invaded America and occupied it for over a year, without ever giving a departure date.

You feared the previous government, but now you fear just to step outside your house. Good friends of yours have been killed in grisly bomb blasts in the marketplace. The invading soldiers conduct house-to-house raids that are often aggressive and frightening.

They have taken away people you know – perhaps even a family member – and abused them in nauseating ways in the Abu Ghraib prison. Most scarring of all, however, that country’s military has killed thousands of your countrymen. And one of them was a beloved member of your family.

I understand now why President Bush is so steadfastly religious. It would take a miracle for these circumstances not to turn even moderate people to extremism and violence.

Perhaps if the president had wished to avoid the violent resentment now instilled in a generation of Middle Eastern youths, he could have listened not to Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz, but a uslim-the military hero of the Crusades, Salah al-Din. “Beware of bloodshed,” ,” the great leader once told his son. “Trust not in that, for spilt blood never sleeps.”

His words may prove tragically prophetic for the United States.

Though we cannot put to rest the blood already spilt, we can limit the anti-Americanism that fuels terrorism. We must make aid to Middle Eastern governments contingent upon creating jobs for their We must pressure our ally, Saudi Arabia, to stop funding the madrassas that instill extremism in Muslim children around the world.

We must make aid to Middle Eastern governments contingent upon creating jobs for their people. We must work to nurture an educated Arab middle class that has too much to lose to turn to suicide bombing, and may one day be able to instill its own democratic government.

We must return our attention to the biggest hot-button issue of the Arab world and broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace, being just as tough on Israel as we are on the Palestinians. And we must realize that no country is an island, and make humble overtures to the rest of the world.

President Bush could not understand all this if his life depended on it. But our lives depend on it. And that is why we must elect a new president this November.

Rebecca Regan-Sachs is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and a contributing editor for The Hoya. She can be reached at regan-sachsthehoya.com. Case in Point appears every other Friday.

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