Will we Learn?
The efforts of the world at this moment are understandably concentrated on tracking down and punishing.
The big stick, yes, but where is the carrot?
Where is the thought and energy going into long term solutions?
Terrorism is not an accident. It has deep roots and causes. If the causes are not dealt with, and if the roots are not dug up, the big stick will simply reinforce the nurturing of other terrorist plants.
It is extremely disturbing that no public thought has yet been announced on this aspect of the struggle. Here are some thoughts………………… Dear leaders, think about them and do something please.
What happened on September 11th is the latest in anti-Western and anti-establishment terrorism which has been with us since the Second World War, and before. Those acts which have occurred in Europe or the Middle East have been well documented, but they occur in all parts of the world. However much we understand and remove the causes, they will still occur until there is a global reform of youth upbringing, and until those youths become adults, which I will not deal with here — see here.
For the sake of brevity and time I will not catalogue factual sources, but only generalize. Those sources are available in any library and on the internet. They are established by analysts from many cultures and from many political perspectives.
We must be brutally candid with ourselves and at the same time not be sent into a tizzy by historical guilt. We must think of this as a possibility for a fresh and cleansing start.
The balloon of hubris and complacency in the United States was exploded by one blunted and three sharp pins. Voices have been raised to say things like “it was coming to them”. Such a phrase carries undertones of misunderstanding. Yes, it was inevitable that something like that would happen. But why? What in particular about the U.S.A? And the U.S.A. alone? Hardly.
The peaceful nature of the U.S.A. tends to hide its internal divisions. The numerous scholars and travellers who learn about the world outside the continent are hugely outnumbered by citizens, who, even when they travel, do so without learning. When I asked an elderly American couple, studying a map of Vancouver, “Could I help you?” they turned on me with a “Go away” and pretended not to speak English, as if I were a tout in a souk. (That by the way is by no means typical, although Japanese, Chinese, European and others are much more open to such a gesture.)
In other words for most of its life, the major part of U.S. citizenry ignores the world or treats it at best as a barbaric and untrustworthy nuisance.
The U.S. approaches to social services are primitive when compared to those of Europe. There was even one statement to the effect that the $40B emergency fund would be taken partly from social services – we hope that this is not true.
One hundred thousand individuals gathered before Parliament in Ottawa for a memorial service. Apart from the services in London, similar measures of support took place throughout the world. Very few did CNN mention. Certainly President Bush and his officials take care to say always “The United States and it’s allies” but the powerful visuals of the Moscow public laying flowers with tears before the United States Embassy, or the spontaneous horn blowing and streamer displaying by Polish taxi drivers, tears in France, Germany, Japan, Australia and so many other countries, the arrival of Canadian helpers and material – these count minimally for CNN. Yet CNN is a fairly accurate barometer of mainstream America.
Yes, United States policy is strong, effective when aroused. Normally, it is strong and mis-effective day to day. Illustration. At the very moment of Canada’s support, generously welcomed by the U.S. ambassador, with today’s headline quoting our Foreign Minister “Canada is at War”, the Bush administration institutes an anti-free trade measure imposing, on the basis of wrong arithmetic, a unilateral and selfish 20% duty on Canadian softwood – an act which has nothing to do with a strategic alliance, is a simple reflex in support of certain lumber companies in the U.S. and ignoring the consequent rise in house construction prices throughout the country, to say nothing of the throwing out of work in Canada of at least as many individuals as those killed on September 11th.
This kind of short term focussed policy, ignoring the deeper and wider, holistic, consequences, is typical, not only of the U.S., but of all Western governments.
It is one of the many factors which explains wide foreign and some U.S. distrust and cynicism about U.S. policies, even when other governments are similar in outlook. What’s good for the U.S. is good for the world. We will refuse to sign international treaties which may make us modify our policies, even though the rest of the world wants them. We sneer at and starve the United Nations, because deep down we know that we should strengthen it as a true world government, standing above the United States or other individual countries. When Hitler attacks and the democracies have their backs to the Channel, we will not intervene, because this is not U.S. soil – until the wake up call of Pearl Harbour. Cynics will argue that if the current death toll had been on European soil, the U.S. would have taken a great deal of time before joining the alliance. Let us hope that such thoughts are an injustice. Let’s hope their implications are never put to the test.
Hubris and isolation (except through the domination of popular culture and the capitalist side of globalisation) seem to have been justified by results. Peace and superficial harmony. The ability, not to police the world, but choose the time and place, in U.S. interests, of any exertion of influence.
And there’s the rub. What are U.S. interests? It is time we and others stood up and said – “U.S. Read the rest