Thursday, July 27, 2006

Zawahri on the Wars

"All the World is a Battlefield..."

...crows Osama bin Laden's first lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri of the current situation in the Middle East. "The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until [our] religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq [...] until American troops are chased from Afghanistan and Iraq, paralyzed and impotent... having paid the price for aggression against Muslims and support for Israel."

One piece of wisdom on which followers of the Buddha and physicians throughout the world agreee is this basic principle: first do no harm. It makes for a heavy heart, Bush, to look around the world today, nearly six years into your presidency, with that principle in mind. Can we, the most powerful nation among nations, make the claim that we have done no harm? With people like Zawahri empowered to speak such poison to millions of their followers--and to be heard, believed, even honored--I think not.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were indeed grave provocations to an America distanced from the rest of the world by its wealth and power. From the point of view of the jihadists (which is certainly deluded from our own perspective, Bush, but is nonetheless a view devoutly held by millions of those who consider themselves dispossessed and disrespected by the privileged West)it was unhappily the cause for genuine celebration, a sense of empowerment, and hope. These same people are now literally up in arms in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, Israel, and have powerful supporters and purveyors of deadly weapons. The harm to human beings everywhere is incalculable, and it would be equally delusional to deny that we have our share to account for.

What could we/should we have done? If I were as wise and holy as the Dalai Lama, who has consistently rejected armed resistance to the Chinese in the home country they have looted and terrorized, I would certainly have advocated against the violent response to violence. There's a deep part of me that acknowledges there is no end to the cycle of violence once it is started. There's a deep part of me that recognizes, too, that the blame game gets us nowhere, and that the exchange of "you started it" accusations is futile. Who could ever get back to the root cause of that dreaful event? We'd have to go back centuries.

I'm not as holy as the Dalai Lama, though. I was unholy enough to support your action against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the terrorists supported by that tyrannical medieval rule. I was unholy enough to believe that we had to use force against the terrorists, and to believe that we could lessen, if not eliminate, the threat they posed to us and to the rest of the world. I confess I was even taken in for a while--along with a good number of our government leaders and officials who should have been much better informed than I--by your administration's dire warnings about Saddam's weaponry. I was myself initially deluded into believing that some military in Iraq action was appropriate and necessary.

But look at the harm that has resulted from our country's actions in the region, Bush--as well as from our inaction on the diplomatic front in your first term. In all the time that has elapsed since the September 11 attack, we have achieved nothing but further death, destruction, emnity and intolerance. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the pudding that is currently being dished out in the Middle East is stuffed with human tragedy: children being blown apart by bombs and missiles, families torn apart, bereaved, and dispossessed. Whole countries in ruins, their infrastructures requiring years, if not decades, to restore to normal operation.

Above all, we have empowered the Zawahris and the Bin Ladens of this world to recruit millions of followers to their implacable cause. Was it one of your generals who uttered these wise, world-weary, tragically perceptive words: "We are creating insurgents faster than we can kill them"? Rather than protecting our ally Israel with our policies, we have exposed that small nation to greater vulnerability than ever in the past. Israel's actions, today, may be justified by centuries-old standards of statehood in the West; to its neighbors, they are gasoline on the fire.

Your warrior policies, Bush, may provide some short-term satisfaction those who seek revenge for the harm that was done to us--and was done, more recently, to Israel. They may feel good in the gut of those who believe that America must remain strong and that this is the way to manifest and use our strength. But viewed from that simple principle--first do no harm--they fail utterly. They fail to provide the intended results. They fail to address the causes of the current crisis. They fail to make things better. They serve only to perpetuate the violence they purport to oppose.

If we are to live together on this planet, Bush, we have to learn a way that leads to better results. And the first step might be to learn not to shun and shut out the opinion of those on the other side, but to listen to it. Not to refuse to talk to hostile nations, but to include them, no matter how much to our distaste, in the discussion. If nothing else, the current warfare in the Middle East provides convicing evidence that there is no other way.


Fred said...

Very wise, Peter. Thanks,

GringoWithoutBorders said...

1.) How many Dicators has USA installed/supported in the Arab/Persian world?

2.) How many times has USA screwed with the internal politics of an Arab/Persian country?

3.) Why does USA support a racist country at the expense of Arab people?

4.) How many guns & bombs have we supplied in the Arab/Persian world

5.) How many times have we dropped bombs on the Arab/Persian Countries?

6.) How many Arabs/Persians has the USA Killed?

7.) How many times have we militarily threatened an Arab/Persian country?

8.) How many times has USA blocked UN resolutions against a racist country while the whole world can see the evil in this racist country?

9.) How many times have we invaded an Arab/Persian country?

10.) How many times has the USA not allowed the self determination of an Arab/Persian country.

11.) How many times has the USA threatened Arab/Persian countries with annihilation from nuclear weapons or air attacks?

12.) For how many decades has USA used warships and jets to patrol the seas and airspace of these countries.

13.) Who is occupying Arab land?

The pure evil in this world is the Foreign Policies of this country we call USA. Would love to know how many times ANY Arab/Persian country has done ANY of those items above to USA. To say we dont want to start a blame game is kinda funny since no Arab/Persian country has ever come to USA and done anything to me or you.

With or without Bush, the USA has committed atrocity after atrocity for the last 60+ years against the Arab/Persian people. Bush is just a red herring as our policies were there before him and sadly will be after him. That is until the Arabs can bloody our nose and keep us off their land and out of their governments.

To make friends with these 500 million people maybe we should stop killing and invading them decade after decade. Until then, I applaud those brave individuals who stand against the evils of USA Foreign Policy and the puppet Governments we create to exploit their natural resources.

GringoWithoutBorders said...

I thought this was said very well, even though I dont like organized religion:

"If the poor Somalians are turning to religion, don’t look at it as a sign of trouble. What do you expect people living in such hopeless conditions to do except turn to God for help? It’s only natural for people in such trying circumstances to turn to faith. The greater your troubles, the closer you get to God. And what is wrong if the Islamists are making sincere efforts to put this unfortunate country back on the track? They deserve support, not brickbats. Religion is not the problem in Somalia or the Middle East. In fact, Islam can be part of the solution."

While I myself feel no need for religion or fantasies of an afterlife, I can empathize with those that do. However, ORGANIZED religion is a funny thing because who is it really organized for?

Anonymous said...

What I fail to understand is how a man who prides himself on protecting an unborn foetus can so cavalierly sanction the murder of innocent children in Beirut under the guise of looking for a permanent peace in the Middle East.

Dave Davis said...

Those who don't learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. . . repeat it. . . repeat it. . .

If you want to change the future, you must change the present. . . Change the present. . . Change the present! .

. . . Change the President!

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