Monday, September 12, 2005

9/11 - A Remembrance

9/11/05 came and went. With dozens of TV specials, documentaries and crazy conspiracy theorists I'm sure no one forgot to pay homage to the lost. Maybe Larry King came on for a Sunday night special. Who knows, I wasn't about to watch any of it.

I was a little surprised to see that, on one of the boards I frequently post, the host sent a special email link to a thread he started about 9/11. It was a predictably sappy thread with all sorts of links I promptly ignored, as well as all sorts of pictures of the buildings crashing and of those annoying ribbons so many love to stick to their cars. While none of that nonsense interested me, I was intrigued by what the thread asked for everyone do. We were asked to post about what we remembered from that day - our initial reactions, where we were, etc. Then he wanted people to compare that to how they feel today.

The relavency to this question is astounding for a country that cares so deeply about this event, but hardly noticed 1,000 people dying in Iraq just a few days ago from a stampede on a bridge. On the forum, people wrote about their shock and anger. I'm sure many of them posted about how they wanted revenge. I posted about my fears that day: that this would drive the U.S. to commit terrible acts of terrorism just as awful as the destruction of the Twin Towers. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Our reactions were much worse than my expectations.

I'm sure people hate to compare what we did inIraq to what less than 20 people did to Manhattan, but tens of thousands of Iraqis have now been killed in the name of preventing terrorism. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed because of government lies about terrorist connections and potential weapons of mass destruction that could have been in their hands. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have had their lives ruined, or worse, because America wanted blood.

Well, blood we got. Now, several years later, do we feel any better? The reaction to 9/11 amounts to a 3 year old toddler having a temper tantrum, except this three year old has laser-guided missiles and is developing tactical nuclear technology.


Yesterday, in the Boston Sunday Globe, one of the editorials was about Iraq and the Post-9/11 World. Most of it makes sense, but at one point it argues something I cannot agree with: that America must stay in Iraq. The toddler United States threw a temper tantrum and now that most Americans have finally realized what we have done, people are determined to fix it.

Most Americans, at this point, probably agree with the Globe. They see that the invasion was wrong, but want to somehow make it up to Iraqis. However, at some point people need to realize that America CANNOT fix this problem. How could America ever have the compassion to 'fix' Iraq when it doesn't even notice when 1,000 of them instantly die?

Just the other day I was watching CNN when I saw some general pointing to all sorts of graphs talk about how we're going to 'purge' all the foreign nationalists and insurgents in the country and in one specific city. Maybe if the generals weren't so preoccudied using their fancy graphs and those special wooden sticks they use to point with to illustrate battle stategy, they would realize that the insurgency is comprised almost in its entirety by the people of Iraq. No military strategy can purge an insurgency of the people. If Bush wants to make comparisons to the American Revolution, he'd do well to remember who lost: the foreign invaders. The US lost in Vietnam and it will loose in Iraq for the very same reasons; the population of the country simply doesn't trust us and will resist us till the end. The newest city the military wants to purge will only bring us further from our goal of bringing peace to Iraq; the last city we 'purged' was more or less destroyed, serving as a prime example of how a country loses the trust of a people.

While insurgents may comprise a relatively small population of Iraqis, a great number of Iraqis in some way identify with the resistance movement. Almost no one is happy about America being in Iraq (including Americans). Furthermore, the number of Iraqis discontent with the situation is greatest and fiercest among Sunnis, a very important and very large minority. Using the military to "purge" the problem will never work, unless the plan is to engage in a genocide of Iraqis. Furthermore, America's opportunity to play the role of chief diplomat is now no longer available since we have absolutely no credibility in the country.

It's time for this country to pull out now. We cannot afford to wait. Some will say that can only cause civil war; I may even agree with them. However, civil war is likely going to happen anyway. Some argue it has already began. The longer we stay there, the worse it will become. If by staying any longer, the situation could somehow get better - then by all means, the US should stay. However, that is a Peter Pan fantasy that will result in thousands more dead Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. In truth, America shouldn't feel as though we caused the situation. It wasn't as if strife among ethnic groups in Iraq was a new thing, the US only exascerbated the problem. With Saddam Hussien deposed, the trigger has been pulled. Let's watch from the sidelines and keep a wary eye on the region, doing our best to help Iraqis make a peaceful transition to a new government using what we should have in the first place: diplomacy and international support.

1 comment:

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