ENDS VS. MEANS
I think we can all agree on the ends. The people responsible for these acts must be brought to justice. Terrorism must end world wide.
We have a strange law in this country prohibiting the assassination by our government or its agents of any individual. Its perfectly all right to carpet bomb a city if you think Saddam Hussein might be in it. Its perfectly all right to throw an entire nation into poverty, deny them health care, and repeatedly destroy their infrastructure in the faint hope that the starving masses will understand that it is all the fault of their leaders and rise up against them. But don’t even think about sending an assassin to eliminate the man you want.
Now to be fair, this law was enacted after our government assassinated the democratically elected Socialist president Allende of Chile, resulting in the terrible dictatorship of Pinochet. So the ends of Congress were noble, it is the means that have resulted in so much innocent suffering as our government continues to attempt to subvert the will of the people worldwide. We weren’t allowed to go in and kill the Sandanistas in Nicaragua, so instead we helped the Contras sell drugs and buy weapons which they used to massacre civilians, priests, nuns, and social workers with impunity for years. Ronald Reagan called them freedom fighters. I call them terrorists. Terrorists on America’s payroll.
The list is long of evil deeds precipitated by the United States of America. I am not bringing this up to excuse those who committed mass murder on Tuesday. But in order to move forward with integrity, in order to honestly seek an end to state sponsored terrorism, we must acknowledge our own culpable past.
Back to my point. Because of this law against assassination, We have been torturing the Iraqi people for ten years in retribution for the acts of their leadership. I’m not really advocating assassination here, just pointing out that by targeting ordinary people instead of the despots who enslave them, we have created a whole generation of volunteers for Bin Laden and the like. Imagine if we deposed Saddam Hussein, lifted the sanctions, flooded Iraq with food and medicine, rebuilt their infrastructure, and helped them hold free elections. Imagine if we did the same with the Taliban in Afghanistan. (All of this would cost less than the Gulf War) Imagine if we did this as a part of a Global coalition.
Alternatively, to bring Bin Laden to justice, assuming we can actually prove he is responsible, (remember, we only have the tentative declarations of our government and the wild assumptions of the press to go on), I suppose we could, as has been suggested (demanded) on AM talk radio all week, flatten Afghanistan like a pancake. If Bin Laden is actually there, he would probably die, along with millions of painfully poor , innocent, and ignorant Afghanis. I for one am not willing to pay that price, and before you say that you are, in the comfort of knowing that they are half a world away, and look, talk and worship differently than you do, consider this: if we carpet bomb Afghanistan, terrorism will come to America to stay. When we determine those behind the attack, I hope we are able to target them and them alone. We have the most sophisticated military machine in history. We should be able to capture one man, or ten, or even a hundred.
I have felt no anger since Tuesday, only the deepest sorrow and pain. The righteous rage sweeping America escapes me. I do not feel righteous. I have profited from the suffering of people all over the world. I am an American. I am not sorry, I am an American. I am one of the lucky ones. Sometimes, however, my leaders do things for which I am ashamed. I hope this will not be one of those times.
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Vice President, we have an amazing opportunity right now. We may never have a moment like this again in our lifetimes. The whole country is united, the whole world is with us. The means you choose to use to achieve the ends we have all agreed on will determine what sort of world all our children will share.