WE ARE AT WAR. Like it or not, some Muslims have declared a holy war against you and me. Many innocent people will die because some fanatics are hell-bent on destroying us. We must fight them or we will lose this war by default. And we must fight them aggressively.
You can afford to use primarily defensive tactics when you fight honorable men; but you cannot afford to sit and wait when the enemy is willing to use sneaky tactics. They hide among the children and in holy places. They exploit our honor and our rules. We have no choice but to seek them out before they kill us.
But we must do more. The trouble with battling evil is it destroys life. It destroys people and families and buildings and futures. Fighting takes time and resources that could have been spent building a better world and wastes it. War may be necessary, but the free world must go one step further.
We have more than the two obvious options (avoid trouble or fight against it). We have the intelligence to do what no other animal can do: We can figure out what good action would eliminate this trouble. What could we build or strengthen that would weaken terrorism?
It is a sound and universally-applicable principle: When you spend time and money building up the good, you make the bad easier to handle. In the case of terrorism, there are many things that could be built to weaken terrorism — democracy, free speech, free enterprise, schools, and maybe most important of all: women's rights.
The most violent cultures are the ones with the least female influence. The more balanced the power and influence of both sexes, the less violent its people. And the more balanced the culture, the more prosperous the people. The cultures that support terrorism have always been the most out of balance. Female rights and influence are missing.
The fewer rights women have, the more violent the men and the poorer the people. When a woman is free to do and say what she wants alongside men, the country grows stronger and saner. Female influence balances men and brings out the best in both sexes.
So although we must fight this war against fanatical Muslim men, it would be in our best interests to also build and strengthen the rights of Muslim women. They fought for forty years in Kuwait for the right to vote. Women in Muslim countries have fought long and hard for a voice in their own world. Their desire to have a voice already exists. We'd be wise to do all we can to support it (we have practical ways for you to offer your support at the end of this article).
The moment women have the vote, their country becomes more balanced and easier for other countries to deal with. The voice of women could restore sanity and balance to countries that sorely need both.
The antidote to terrorism lies in women's rights. Free the women. Give them equal rights and a voice and the power to influence their country. As women grow stronger, terrorism gets weaker.
Very few women wanted to live under the Taliban, but they had no say in the matter. No woman wants to be stoned to death for the way she dresses or the job she works. Inside male-dominated non-democratic countries are millions of women, most of whom are potential allies against the religious extremists. Brave soldiers fight terrorism in this un-asked-for war. But to really win we must do more: We must build more of what works, like free enterprise, democratic countries, and women's rights.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT WOMEN'S RIGHTS:
See an excellent movie about how women lived under the Taliban. It is the first movie made in Afghanistan after the Taliban was defeated, and it was made by people who lived through it. Powerful.
Read more about how working for women's rights can help defeat terrorism.