Bruce Bartlett

Other eco-terrorists have been stepping up their attacks on sport utility vehicles, which are viewed as gas-guzzlers, and land development for housing and recreation. One group known for advocating eco-violence is the Earth Liberation Front. Its members have taken credit for everything from spray-painting SUV's to burning down a $50 million condominium project in San Diego.

ELF's former spokesman, Craig Rosebraugh, recently wrote a book, "The Logic of Political Violence" (Arissa Media, 2004), in which he defends the use of violence in achieving the goals of animal rights and saving the environment from capitalist exploitation. He compares eco-terrorists to Jews resisting the Holocaust. When questioned about his views by the House Resources Committee in 2002, Mr. Rosebraugh took the Fifth Amendment on all but two questions, one being an admission that he is a U.S. citizen.

It is too easy just to say that Mr. Rosebaugh's theory is depraved and absurd. The real problem with using violence to achieve political goals is that it works very poorly as compared to nonviolent methods. Mahatma Gandhi 's efforts in achieving independence in India, Nelson Mandela's bringing down of apartheid in South Africa, and Martin Luther King's victory on civil rights here are testaments to the power of nonviolence to accomplish massive political and societal changes against enormous odds. Just in recent days, we have seen peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine bring about radical political changes in that country almost overnight.

By contrast, the 60-year campaign by murderous Palestinian terrorists against Israel has been a complete and total failure. The IRA's campaign of bombing and assassination in Northern Ireland has also achieved virtually nothing except death and destruction.

Of course, there have been revolutionary wars that were successful, not the least being our own. And sometimes war is needed to achieve necessary change, as in the case of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. But I cannot think of any case where the sort of random terrorist violence against innocent civilians, such as perpetrated by al-Qaida or eco-terrorists, has ever achieved its goal.

When one is pursuing a strategy that is not only immoral but also doesn't work, it might be time consider an alternative.

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

Be the first to read Bruce Bartlett's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.

©Creators Syndicate