Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pax Americana

Deep-down in my soul lurks a cynical peacenik. When it became obvious that morning, that 9-11 was an act of terrorism, I felt angry because I believed that 9-11 resulted partly from hypocritical American foreign policy. With 9-11, Now Americans knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of being bombed--of what it was like being a civilian in Hanoi during the Vietnam War, for example. Middle-aged men wearing suits, disturbed and shaking, some with concrete dust in them, were running away from Ground Zero, towards the nearest public transportation. These were the same people whose response to any conflict of the U.S. with another country was to say that we should bomb them. How do you like it, now that you are on the receiving end? 

How many innocent people will die if we bomb Syria?

One friend who worked on the 105th floor of the WTC was out of the office that day due to a planned fishing trip. Most of the people at his office were killed that day--658 people (This was Cantor Fitzgerald). This guy was no pacifist. He is a beer-drinking, macho football fan, and his youthful, passionate, pipe-dream had been to fly fighter jets and do air-air-combat with Soviet MIGs. After 9-11, he said to me with tearful emotion, that he doesn't want the U.S. to bomb anybody, that it is too terrible, that he doesn't want anyone else to ever have to go through something like this ever again. Similarly, shortly after 9-11,the widow of my friend who had worked at Fiduciary Trust was quoted in our local newspaper as saying that she didn't want the U.S. to retaliate against anybody. These two people learned the hard way, through experience, that revenge, and especially the killing of innocent people, is not the solution. 

Today (9/11) should largely be a day of commemoration of the dead.  While self-defense and vigilance are necessary, the resolve of "never again" should not stop at being a declaration of vigilant self-defense. It needs to be a resolve of war "never again"--that is, a resolve to work for peace.  Sadly, most don't think that way. On 9-11, I find the waving of flags and other patriotic gestures to be rather shallow. The flag-wavers have not engaged with the real issues. When will we ever learn?

Historically, most of the dictators in the world, including Latin America and the Middle-East were put and kept in place by the U.S. Sadam Hussein was our guy until he went rogue. Egypt's Mubarek was kept in power for 30 years with over a billion dollars of U.S. military aid every year. The old Shah of Iran was put in place by the Brits, but supported by the U.S. The secret police of these dictators are trained in surveillance, torture and interrogation by the CIA, in order to be able to maintain political control of their populations. Yet, the U.S. preaches democracy and freedom to the whole world. The people that lived under these dictatorial regimes see American hypocrisy for what it is. And that is why they hate us.  

But apparently most Americans are more interested in Miley Cyrus dancing naked than anything else.

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