The War on Terrorism is going well, we are told. Afghanistan’s Taliban regime is dismantled and the new interim government seems to be firmly in place. Osama Bin Laden is still missing. But not to worry ? he is either dead in a cave or will be quickly found and detained. Meanwhile, President Bush continues to experience a high approval rating.
The War on Terrorism goes on and a nation nods with unthinking compliance.
Almost every generation in American history has seen some type of war. Until recently, ours was spared of the fear that breeds hatred ? we’ve been unfettered by thoughts of insecurity and uncertainty.
On Sept. 11 our innocence was shattered and soon after we were told, like generations before us were told, that we must go to war. We are told that this war will be a new war. It will be a long conflict, possibly lasting many years, and will be fought all over the globe. We are told that it is a war to eradicate evil. This is a farce.
War by nature is evil. Violence begets violence and innocent life is always lost. Stray bombs have unintentionally killed civilians and our own soldiers in Afghanistan. Just collateral damage, right?
I see interviews with the families of dead U.S. soldiers. They say their sons died bravely serving their nation. I say the sons of America who fight in this war like every war die as martyrs ? martyrs that show war brings death, and death brings pain. And yet it continues.
Can we not learn from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Israel assassinates a member of Hamas, the organization fighting for a free Palestinian state, Hamas sends a suicide bomber to an Israeli mall and innocents are killed. Israel responds with missiles and soon there is another suicide bomber that kills more civilians. And so it goes.
Can you just imagine what will happen when the next terrorist attack hits America? Will we then go to war with the nation that harbors the mastermind of that terrorist attack? And so on, and so it may go ? back and forth, a cycle.
The cycle also extends to the domestic sphere, where social problems are the seed of ignorance and violence. Here at home, legislation was passed to help the victims of Sept. 11 ? we owe them that. The Bush government also calls for billions in tax cuts, and billions more in tax refunds to corporations to stimulate an economy in recession. Congress is pressing for increased defense spending.
What of the 30 to 40 million American citizens in poverty and social deprivation, some of who live in urban slums and send their children to crumbling schools while they struggle to pay for housing and lack health care?
Urban disintegration is not the premiere subject of current national politics, and maybe it shouldn’t be. But I hope that Congress remembers the starving children in this country when they insist on a grandiose missile defense system. I hope that there is not bloated defense spending like there was during the Cold War.
I hope that we Americans listen to the world’s citizenry and ask why so many believe that the United States is a unilateral domineering international actor. What is it about our foreign policy that drives a few radicals to kill thousands of innocent civilians, killing themselves in the process? How can we prevent further attacks?
In the meantime, President Bush and some Republican congressmen slowly turn their gazes toward Iraq, demanding that U.N. weapons inspectors be let back into the nation. We must stop, stop and think, and not let the War on Terrorism cycle out of control.
Perhaps Afghanistan is a start. Secretary of State Colin Powell and many U.S. senators have vowed that the United States will not abandon Afghanistan ? we’ll be there for the long haul.
We will aid the country economically and help stabilize its government. This is good, we may bring prosperity and hope to a devastated, war-torn country. A nice start to the ending the cycle of violence abroad.
Now only if we could use our economic might to help other nations. It’s a shame we’ll have to bomb them first.
O’Donnell is a junior and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.