Not One Cent for Tribute!
I see the world as comprised of a zone of civilization, and a zone of barbarism. The barbarians are nomads and raiders (or descended from such), who attack us by raiding "over the wall" when we are complacent and unprepared -- that is how I saw 9/11. Our policy should be the one practiced by the great empires throughout history: (1) Soothe the barbarians with flattery, gifts, bribes, and commerce -- and yes, always hope they will take up civilized ways, which they always might. (2) Watch them constantly for signs of trouble. Infiltrate, conduct quiet assassinations, set them squabbling among themselves. (I greatly enjoyed the Iran-Iraq War.) Then, when (1) and (2) fail, as they always do sooner or later, (3) send an expeditionary force to chase them round the steppe, smash up their assets, humiliate their leaders, and knock them off balance for a few decades.
This seems rather sensible to me, particularly after the experience of the last few years. We (Americans) have always prided ourselves on not taking any shit from anyone. Even in the early days of the Republic, we departed from the European custom of paying tribute to the Barbary pirates of Tunisia, and instead sent an expeditionary force to quash them. It didn't really work out the way we hoped, and we ended up paying the bribes anyway. But we got out of it the memorable slogan "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" Fast forward to the 1980's, and Ronald Reagan pledged to never give in to terrorists while authorizing a deal to spring kidnapped hostages. The insistence not to negotiate with terrorists is not always easy to stick to, particularly when the costs escalate. While it's true that paying-off terrorists can encourage continued terror acts, if combined with a credible threat of overwhelming force it need not. That's why dictatorship is the preferred form of government in non-Western governments - they can do our dirty work while being easily bribed.