When the history of the 21st century shall be written, and its decision-making dissected, prominent among it will be the role of those holding responsible positions who - for short-term gain - instilled a culture of denial and fear. There is ample evidence that fears, frustrations, and failures continue to polarise public discourse in America, especially so, when it comes to security issues. At the Congressional Auditorium of the US Capitol in Washington DC - where the US Congress is headquartered - was a day-long colloquium on the war on terror. Significant was both the venue and the topic. Here, under the aegis of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, a new book, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide, Terrorism & How to Stop It, was launched. It was co-authored by Professor Robert A. Pape. To quote the author verbatim: The war on terror is an abysmal failure. Papes core conclusion was that the key trigger for suicide attacks is foreign occupation. Amply documented research data in the book corroborated his findings. He further elaborated that foreign military presence creates an environment for such attacks and that the core grievances are political not religious. This is contrary to the views held by the Washington establishment. His views were reinforced by Congressman Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington State, who has announced his intention to quit Congress at the end of 2010. He had visited Gaza and witnessed first-hand the suffering of the Palestinian people. Congressman Baird observed that the US foreign policy is a contributory factor to the rise of militancy and excluding Hamas from peace parleys, demonising Iran, and limiting debate on the US-Israeli alliance, and is ultimately harmful to US national interests and global security. Even former Governor Thomas Kean, who headed the 9/11 Commission, concluded at the event that the US is today not safe enough. What was being said and where it was said may be a glimmer of a new look and rethinking forced by policy failures. One indicator is the beginning of the discussion on what motivates militancy, why it is a global inspiration, the need to examine the conditions that contribute to desperation, and the weighing of alternative solutions with a view to understand issues in a different way. But to date prominent US politicians continue to fan the flames, instead of dousing them. That has throttled rational and thoughtful public discussions creating, in effect, an informal censorship. Prominent media personalities in the US, like Helen Thomas, Octavia Nasr, and Rick Sanchez, have recently lost their jobs for expressing politically incorrect opinions that have a bearing on the US-Israeli relationship. According to Pape, just as more smoking leads to more lung cancer, more foreign occupation leads to more suicide attacks. By not dealing with the fundamental issues at stake and ignoring indignity, sufferings, and deprivation of freedoms, the tumour of terror continues to grow globally. The writer is a barrister and a senior and political analyst.