War Without End

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

President
Bush was quite right when he called the terrorist attacks of Sept.
11, 2001, acts of war. They were. But they were not the first acts
of a new war. Rather, they were simply a tragic and barbaric escalation
in a war the United States has been fighting abroad for decades,
suddenly and horrifically brought home.

This
is the fallout of US meddling in the Middle East, our continued
war of sanctions against the civilians of Iraq, our blind support
of Israel's ethnic cleansing in the "occupied territories,"
and our active support of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan
during the Cold War.

These
foreign-policy sins, of course, do not excuse the unforgivable acts
of mass murder unleashed on America. Nor do they diminish the acts
of heroism we have seen from those who died trying to save the victims
and trying to prevent more deaths.

But
we cannot forget that all this never would have happened had the
United States minded its own business. If we do not learn this lesson,
we can expect the war in which we are now engaged to continue with
no end in sight.

The
first casualty in war is the truth, and this war is no different.

The
same individuals and groups in the United States who have been spoiling
for a war – any war – since the fall of the Soviet Union have turned
their propaganda engines on full.

The
neoconservative Fox News Channel aired a report that purported to
answer the one question no one else dared ask: Why does the Arab
world hate us so? Unfortunately, the "answer" delivered
was nothing more than a thinly veiled justification for genocide.

We
are told that Muslim fundamentalists hate us because we are rich,
free, and, by their standards, "decadent." But this is
sophistry.

By
Islamic standards, there are many countries that should qualify
for such hatred. But only the US and Israel face terrorist threats.
And when Muslim extremists do attack targets in other countries,
Americans and American property are invariably the targets.

Japan
is almost as rich as America. Its consumer culture is arguably even
more "decadent" than ours is. Logically speaking, Muslim
extremists should hate Japan's dominant, non-theistic religion even
more than they hate Christianity. But Japan doesn't fear Islamic
terrorism. The Japanese, in fact, need only fear homegrown terrorists,
like those who launched a poison gas attack several years ago.

The
difference between America and Japan is that America is a global
empire, while Japan is, to use that old smear, "isolationist."

It
is simply arrogance on our part to think that the Arab world hates
us for our virtues – freedom and capitalism. You would have to be
a fool or a contributor to the Ayn Rand Institute to believe such
nonsense.

That
kind of thinking, however, is what warmongers like Bill Kristol
and Sen. John McCain want and encourage. Because if America is hated
for its virtues, then America has no choice but to wage Total War
until the Arab world is brought to its knees and made nothing more
than an American protectorate. After all, we can't very well sacrifice
our virtues, can we?

No
doubt, Muslim fundamentalists do hate the values our Founding Fathers
tried to instill in us, but that isn't the kind of hatred that drives
people to sacrifice themselves in kamikaze attacks. The kind of
hatred that drives people to murder and die requires more tangible
inspiration.

Every
time an innocent child dies in Iraq because of the American-backed
embargo, the Arab world finds another tangible reason to hate America.
And the same can be said every time an American-funded bulldozer
in Israel demolishes some Palestinian family's home.

It
isn't our virtues that got us into this mess – it is our sins. America
has become an empire. Through its attempts to dictate to the rest
of the world, it has created many enemies, and not only among the
Arabs and Muslims. And until we give up our empire and return to
our republican roots, we cannot expect peace.

The
escalation has only just begun.

We
will retaliate. We will drop bombs, and we will probably kill more
innocent civilians than died on Sept. 11. The terrorists will respond
in their own way. They may use biological or even nuclear weapons.
All it takes is a boat sailing into some American port city and
a detonation, and we will have tens if not hundreds of times the
casualties we have already seen.

America
will then retaliate again. And so on.

The
president is right. We are at war. We are at war with fanatics who
will not surrender, who have no territory to take and hold. And
many of our own leaders have global designs.

This
is war, all right. It is war without end.

September
17, 2001

Franklin
Harris [send
him e-mail
] is a newspaper reporter and columnist in
Alabama.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts