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The attack on America: A flawed foreign policy?

By K. Godage
Extreme hate, why? Why did anyone have to kill so many innocents who had done them no wrong. The attack has been described as one against democracy and freedom. If it was a political act then the target should have been institutions of the state and its leaders (this too should not be acceptable in a civilized world). But in the past the US has sought to take out military installations and some leaders of foreign countries including Fidel Castro in revenge attacks. But this was a calculated cold blooded attack that killed thousands of innocent people. The only parallel perhaps was the gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the second attack which was fortunately prevented, to spray Sarin gas on the whole of Tokyo. That would have killed millions. These were perhaps the only peace time parallels. This attack was mass murder in peace time. We of course have been witness to the cruel bombing of Nagasaki after the bombing of Hiroshima (which many claim was wholly unnecessary as the scale of the destruction of the first A bomb had brought Japan to its knees and the surrender was only a matter of time).That was perhaps revenge for Pearl Harbour. People are still suffering from the effects of those bombings. But this is peace time. Today too we hear the cry for revenge.

I am here reminded of a statement made by a foreign correspondent now living in purgatory I hope, who said after the Pettah bus stand bomb of the LTTE , in the 1980s which killed over 230 innocent commuters, that "terrorism can be committed for a just cause". I would very much like to hear such words being said today. When it comes to us, quite often we are asked by the international community to "address the cause", but they reserve a different yardstick for themselves. Our terrorist has been a freedom fighter! for some of them. It is only when such thinking ends and our terrorist is also considered their terrorist, by the US and the international community, will we be able to wipe out this cancerous menace.

Attack

Let us revert to the subject of this despicable bombing. Why did this attack happen? Was it destined to happen as Nostradamus has predicted and is the Armageddon of the Bible about to come true? But to those of us who do not believe in such things we need to look not at crystal balls but search among the rubble of history for the answers. Yes, US foreign policy may provide us the answers and how that has impacted on mankind. The US came out of its isolation and emerged after the second world war as a major power in the world, whose military strength was only matched by that of the Soviet Union. After 1945 the US took upon itself the mantle of the leader of the Free World" as opposed to the totalitarian world ruled by Marxists. The Cold War had begun and with it an ideological competition the world had not known before.

We have seen heavy handed actions by the US in subsequent years particularly in areas of the world where she has perceived her interests to be threatened. Despite her loud claims and affirmations of a total commitment to Democracy, the US planted her own stooges as dictators in almost all South American countries. They ruled the peoples of those countries without their consent not only cruelly and brutally, violating even their basic human rights, they robbed these countries blind with impunity because of the support they received from the US. THE US CHOSE TO BE WITH THE RULERS INSTEAD OF BEING WITH THE PEOPLE. The US drove nationalists into the arms of the Communists. Cuba was the classic example. Even today the US supports the big landowners, who brutally oppressed and exploited the peasants. They have parked themselves in Miamiwaiting for the death or removal of Castro, to return, hoping to rule again and exploit the people.

Dictators

Propping up dictators was a special preoccupation of successive US Administrations. Why are the people of Iran against the US? Why? has the US ever honestly asked and answered this question? It was only because the US was associated in the minds of the people with those who were exploiting them —- the Pahalavi dynasty and the Shah himself. The people of Saudi Arabia are said to be ruling that country only because of the presence of US troops in that country. This may not be true but this is a perception in the Middle-East.

Incidentally the presence of foreign troops in Saudi Arabia, considered a desecration of the Holy Land by Bin Laden, that has led to his attack on US troops in that country. This is Bin Ladens cause celebre this was why he attacked American troops in Lebanon and bombed US Missions in Kenya and Tanzania, killing hundreds of innocent civilians with impunity.

The Middle East is where the US has been most involved. Her first priority has been supporting Israel at all costs. The powerful pro-Israeli Jewish lobby in the US ensures this. The US, despite its claim to be the guardian of freedom, Democracy and the Rule of Law, has over the years supported harsh totalitarian regimes. Some of these regimes would not have existed but for US support.

In the Middle East the US has been accused of many sinssome real some imaginary, but perceptions being real in themselves, such perceptions have formed the basis of their attitude towards the US. In 1967 after Nassers saber-rattling it is claimed that American government tricked Nasser into believing that Israel will not attack unless attacked. Nasser believed the Americans and their entire airforce was destroyed on the ground. In every war in the ME the US has not been neutral, she has stood by the side of Israel. In the UN the US has sided Israel to the extent that over 50 Resolutions of the UN have been ignored by Israel with impunity. Israel has committed some of the most horrible atrocities and got away with it. Sharon the "butcher of Shariat and Shatila is today wreaking havoc on the Palestinian people, killing men, women and children in their hundreds with American made weapons. American aid to Israel per annum is reported to be worth over five billion US dollars. Sharon and Israel, are protected from condemnation in the UN by the United States veto. Most recently the world witnessed how the US walked out of the world conference on Racism in protest at a resolution aimed at Israel. The Israelis have become a law unto themselves and will never be brought to justice because of US support. What is the justice we are referring to, is it limited to dealing with Bin Laden and his murderers?

As opposed to this they see the treatment of Iraq. Whose crime was the invasion of Kuwait over ten years ago. Once again the Americans are accused of having tricked Sadam, who was seen as a looming threat to Israel and had hence to dealt with. The American Ambassador at the time is reported to have told Sadam that the US would not act if Iraq seizes the disputed oil fields in the north (in territory claimed both by Iraq and Kuwait). Iraq swallowed the bait and paid ten times over for its stupidity but is still being made to pay for it, over ten years on. Iraq remains under UN embargo with millions suffering and thousands of innocent children dying in that country because they do not have proper nourishment and medicines. Is this not a crime against humanity? Iraq is accused of making weapons of mass destruction. Does Israel not have weapons of mass destruction? Israel is Nuclear capable and is also reported to have stocks of chemical and biological weapons and is in violation of UN resolutions but there is no embargo imposed on her. "Where is the justice" is the question that people pose..

The US has been involved in Cuba, Vietnam, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Angola, Iraq to name but a few places with perhaps the best of intentions but as it turned out, they were unfortunately on the wrong side every time. Why?

It must be conceded that the US has an important role to play in this world. A particularly responsible role as she is today the only Super Power, (but despite her being a super power, her vulnerability has been exposed.) Some of her involvements, for example in the Yugoslav conflict and the Bosnian issue, could be justified on the basis that the conflict would have engulfed the whole of the Balkans. The western Europeans were looking at the problem through Crusaders spectacles from the middle ages and were wholly impotent until the US entered the scene and resolved the issue.

Though not expressed in visible terms as in the west, this huge tragedy has evoked a flood of compassion in this country too. Everyone newspaper and every person who has spoken out in this country has condemned this horrific and senseless attack on innocent people and have been sickened by it. We, having ourselves experienced the anguish and pain caused by cruel and barbarous terrorism, where hundreds of innocents have been killed by the LTTE, sympathize and empathize with the people of the US and elsewhere in their hour of grief. We must join the global coalition against terrorism and pledge our total support to eradicate terrorism in all its forms. We must use this opportunity to let the world know what we have suffered at the hands of the LTTE terrorists. In the recent past it is small Sri Lanka, ravaged by terrorism, that has carried the torch without the expected international support. Apparently the SG of the Commonwealth Secretariate, who come from remote New Zealand, which has not experienced any form of terrorism as yet, has had a smirk on his face when we had requested for the inclusion of Terrorism on the agenda of the forthcoming Commonwealth Summit in Brisbane. To people like him terrorism becomes meaningful only when some countries are attackednot third world countries. It is our fault that we allow such monkeys to hold high positions in bodies where third world countries are in a majority.

The President sent a message of condolence to President Bush, but considering our own circumstances and experience, it is indeed a pity that we did not make a joint statement (signed by all the main political parties) pledging support to the US, to wage a campaign against all designated terrorist groups who attack civilian targets like the World Trade Center in New York and our own Central Bank and International Airport. The Secretary of State Colin Powel has called for the formation of an international coalition to launch such a campaign to fight terrorism. This is an opportunity we should not miss. We should be in the forefront.

Let me here share the thoughts of a friend on this matter : "The two main parties and the other like minded political groups, must not only say with one voice that we shall fight terrorism, but also that we are ready at the same time to protect the rights of minorities wherever they live in our country i.e. Tamil minority in the South, the Sinhalese minority in the North and the Muslim minority in the North and South. If we enshrine this principle of minority rights in a Constitution, which also has all other aspects already agreed by all other parties, one of the causes of the war is over and anywhere in Sri Lanka will be the homeland of any/everybody, By so doing the UNP and PA will also say that we will not give in to terrorists but we will give Tamil people their legitimate rights."

To revert to the horrific attack on America. The tragedy of this situation is that the US has indeed in the past 50 years accumulated thousands of enemies around the world because of its foreign policy. The repercussions of US involvement in Iran two decades ago are still being felt. It is US foreign policy that appears to be flawed. The United States has on a balance been a force for good. Her contribution is unparalleled. Had it not been for the US, the German Nazis and Italian Fascists together with Japanese imperialists would have ruled our world with horrific consequences for us all. We may even have had totalitarian communism taking over the world. Therefore the US has indeed done more good than harm to our world. The average American, is a warm, friendly, generous and God fearing human being. This is one of the reasons why people cannot quite understand why the establishment does not identify with the people. The people of the US think that they have been only a source for good in our world, but they must try to understand why this tragedy was visited on them. They must reflect on it in their own interest. They must know that there are millions who have genuine grievances against America and American policy particularly in the Middle East.

Massive buckshot retaliation is an easy course of action but it will only breed a thousand Bin Ladens and sow further hatred. Bin Laden and his terrorist network must be destroyed root and branch as surgically as is humanly possible. Such an operation should not set in motion a further round of attacks in retaliation and create an endless cycle of violence. Surely no society, not even that of the US, can withstand such a situation. The US, must whilst bringing the murderers to justice (and the whole world will support them in this exercise, terrorists must have no place to hide) address their mind to ensuring that JUSTICE in all its forms —-economic and social included, prevail in our world. The people of the United States and their leaders must ensure that their country is the champion of Justice in this world. They must do this before those who consider the US their enemy acquire weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. We must head off the Armageddon.


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