So now it’s Iran, and maybe Syria? After Iraq and Afghanistan, and Libya. And can we throw a bit of Pakistan in there? We’re only talking wars here, or at least armed intervention. And only in the last 10 years or so (long after the Shah came and went). Can you really blame Muslims who see a US agenda to attack or control them? Of course, it might just be about controlling all that oil. Except that the US has all but turned a blind eye to the rights of Palestinians in “greater Israel” while squawking about the rights record of anyone it does not claim as an ally. And let’s just not mention who the primary targets of waterboarding and the whole Guantanamo/extra-territorial detention apparatus are.
What I’d like to consider, however, is the ostensible reason for most of this — security. Protection from WMD or their human counterpart, PMD (people of mass destruction, the dreaded “terrorists”). Are there people out there who will fly planes into buildings? Yes. Are there many of them? There weren’t. Have US actions increased or decreased their number? You tell me. Is there more of a chance that increasingly brutal and intrusive security measures will effectively counter all these people or that some of them will think of other things as deadly, unforeseen and easy to carry out as flying planes into buildings? Or maybe get their hands on a crude nuclear weapon?
So the whole enterprise is dubious at best and fatally counterproductive at worst. And it has cost more money than many countries may earn in their lifetime. (Then there’s the rest of the defense budget, but one thing at a time.)
Now let’s step back to that fateful day in 2001. Americans suffered greatly. In honesty, they suffered far less than what they have inflicted on peoples around the world, but 9/11 was violence expressly intended to kill many people at random. And there was a very sympathetic reaction around the world.
Regrettably, the US has mostly lost that sympathy, partly due to wedding parties and children being written off as collateral damage. The 9/11 perpetrators apparently saw themselves as soldiers in a war pitting the US against Islam. As mentioned, US behavior since then has only reinforced this idea.
What might have happened if the US had taken a different approach? What if it had reasoned that blind US support for Israel (which is not to say the US should not support Israel in a more appropriate way) and US interventions in the region (including support for Saddam’s oppression of the Sunni majority in Iraq) had given a dangerous group the somewhat understandable but wrong idea that the US was attacking Islam/Muslims? What if it had used some of its money to improve education and support development in the region instead of on war-mongering, and if it had pursued a more equitable policy toward Israel and Palestinians?
In short, what if it had responded with logic and an attempt to understand and address the issues underlying 9/11? Would the US be safer today? Would the world be safer? Would everyone be safer tomorrow if the US started doing today what it could have done then? Maybe Iran would not feel such a seemingly strong need to possess a nuclear deterrent, even if its leadership comes across through mainstream Western media as dangerously off the wall.
(To be continued)