Archive for World News
On September 30, 2011, the United States conducted an unprecedented armed attack to kill people who they believed to be instrumental Al-Qaeda operatives. The chief target of the armed drone assault was Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American cleric.
Al-Awlaki, among others targeted and killed in teh attack, were US citizens. The US government conducted this assault, as far as the public is aware, without consultation or approval from the Yemeni government. This attack in an unprecedent violation of national sovereignty, the likes of which even the US has not carried out in recent years. The killings of these individuals demonstrates a complete disregard for national sovereignty, along with the indication that US citizenship no longer guarantees constitutional protections.
This is a deeply concerning series of events, and I would like your thoughts on whether or not the US’s actions were legitimate.
“I found a religion that blended scientific reason with spiritual reality in a unifying faith far removed from the headlines of violence, destruction, and terrorism.” – Yousuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, commenting on becoming a Muslim
Anniversaries are important. The past should be remembered, and those who have been lost to this world ought not be lost to our memories. The problem with some anniversaries, however, is they often transform our recollections into inaccurate emotional jumbles which draw our focus away from many important factors. I want to take a minute to reflect on the day the twin towers were attacked, and on the events which followed.
To begin with, many people assume that Bin Laden was behind the attacks of September 11th. Now, I am not one to believe in conspiracy theories. On the other hand, I am also not one to buy into speculative likelihoods. After all, both are based upon faulty logical grounds. That being said, it is important to note that there is no confirmed evidence which confirms Bin Laden as the mastermind of the attacks. In fact, the only confirmed comments by Bin Laden we have regarding the attacks are statements he made to Al-Jazeera a couple days following the attack, in which he expressly denied any involvement. I don’t know if I believe him, but I don’t know if I don’t believe him either. U.S. armed forces claim to have found a tape in a home in Jalalabad which records Bin Laden confessing to the attacks. The authenticity of this tape is under tremendous contention. It further doesn’t make sense that Bin Laden would record such a confession after the United States had invaded Afghanistan, and after he had already denied involvement. I am not saying that Bin Laden did not orchestrate the attacks. Rather, I am saying that I do not know if he had any hand in them. Rather, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a confirmed architect of the attacks, should have been the main target of the manhunt which led to the uprooting of an entire civilian population.
The point of this discussion is not to suggest that someone else committed the attacks, but rather to highlight how anger, shock, and fear can contribute to the acceptance of almost anything as valid truth. These emotions led us into Iraq. They led us to sanction North Korea. And they may lead us toward military action in Iran. The instinct to lash out in understandable, but also very dangerous. We must learn to always question what is around us, to approach what people tell us with speculative curiosity. Our minds should be open, but they should not be gullible.
Many people assume that the people committing terrorist attacks across the world hate Western ideals. They hate our liberties and our way of life. They hate the color of our skin, think we are the devil, and want to kill us. We must remember that, while this may be true for some, it is not true for the vast majority. Our “enemies” have no grievance against little Jimmy Smith living in a suburb in Idaho. No, they have a grievance against the government which deposes their leaders and causes military disruptions on their soil. We experienced 9/11 on one day and have not experienced a similar attack since. Remember that the people in these conflict regions experiences similar tragedies and emotions every day of their lives. They genuinely must fear if the next bomb will land on their roof. They hear about their neighbors being killed, or worse; they see their neighbors killed in front of their own eyes. It is important to remember the firefighters, medical responders, and officers who responded to the 9/11 attacks. But it is also important to remember that other countries also have similar responders, and they must deal with similar situations every day.
It further troubles me when people thank the military forces in these regions for protecting American liberty and freedom. Instead of thanks, these soldiers should receive our apologies. We should apologize that we allow our government to send these brave men and women to fight for…well, who knows for what. They are not making sacrifices for our protection. That is what they signed up to do, but not what their current duties entail. Rather, they are being sent to their deaths for reasons which are unknown to them. The ones who are fortunate enough to live through their service are leading increasingly difficult lives plagued by PTSD and other issues resulting from the actions they were forced to commit. To top it off, they do not receive the care and compensation they deserve after providing their service. I do not blame them, nor can I justify blaming them. Although, I do not remember them as heroes. I remember them as tragedies, as the victims of murder. On this anniversary, it is even more important that we not lose the courage to criticize our government when it conducts operations which unjustifiably lead to the deaths of our soldiers.
Death tolls of 9/11 place the number somewhere around 3,000. My number is several hundred thousand. The Afghani, Iraqi, and Pakistani civilians who have died as a result of military response to 9/11 cannot be excluded from this total. The U.S., English, Canadian, Pakistani, Finn, Swiss, French, Spanish, and numerous other soldiers who have died as a result of the military response to 9/11 cannot be excluded either. Let us not make the mistake of forgetting all the people we have killed to avenge the attack on our soil. These people did not harm us in any way. They had nothing to do with 9/11. They were victims of the same tragedy that befell the United States, but unlike those who died in the towers, they did not have to be. To put it in more stark terms, ask yourself if any of the victims of the tower attacks would want other innocent civilians to die. How many grieving families would be comforted by the escalation of a global conflict? We claim to be fighting for security. Have these conflicts made us more secure? Do you feel safer now that the United States has invaded two countries in the Middle East? How many people felt avenged the day Bin Laden was killed? And how many people feared an immediate increase in terrorist violence?
Ten years ago on this day, the United States experienced an unprecedented attack on its own soil. It was shocking, infuriating, and tragic. In our fervor, we made terrible decisions. We supported a government which, over the course of 10 years, enacted policies leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. These same policies burned 1.5 trillion dollars, contributing to one of the largest economic collapses in U.S. history. These policies have lost us allies, resources, and the lives of our citizens. Yes, the past is important to remember. But, it is not worth remembering if we do not learn from it. Take this day to not only reflect on the tragedy of that day, but to learn from it. Expand your understanding of the world and the people inhabiting it. Have the courage to speak out against injustice. Be a citizen of the world, instead of just a citizen of the United States.
David Cameron has claimed that the UK’s attempts at encouraging a multicultural society have failed. They have led to increased radicalization and a disparate Muslim youth population.
This story got me thinking about whether or not multiculturalism is a actually possible in modern pluralist societies, especially for Muslims in the modern political climate. Identity issues are never easy because they penetrate deeply into our emotional cores. Nevertheless, it is important for us to deal with these issues, particularly for governments to devise policies that allow people to deal with them effectively, especially in the modern political climate. Governments like those in France, England, and even some parts of the United States have failed miserably at fostering peaceful pluralistic communities. And yet, countries like The Netherlands, South Africa, and Brazil have succeeded tremendously. So, what are the failing countries doing wrong?
To be honest, I really don’t know. I haven’t done the appropriate research to comment in a sophisticated and incisive manner. However, my initial suspicion is that these governments have either designed policies which threaten individual self-determination or which are too lax and allow radical influences to thrive as well. My goal with this post is only to get you thinking about this issue. On a more micro scale, it is probably very pertinent to your daily life as you likely deal with a variety of cultures and beliefs on a regular basis. I will read more into this as I find some time, so look for my analysis soon. Until then, read what other people have to say and think about it
President Barack Obama is actively campaigning in Europe against the newly proposed UN Declaration of statehood for Palestine. According to Al-Jazeera, the initiative is gaining support quickly, and Obama has an uphill battle to fight. This fight is further complicated by Obama’s recent foreign policy decisions regarding Libya. Obama wants Israel and Palestine to agree upon the 1967 borders and fears that new boundaries will be negotiated as part of this new statehood settlement. Obama’s reasons, like they were for his actions in Libya, are rather unclear. He claims it is a matter of national security, but he has not provided any specific argument as to why anything but the 1967 borders would threaten US security. While I do not agree that the 1967 borders are a good option, I also do not think the Palestinian statehood initiative should pass.
Simply put, I do not think Israel has the right to exist as a state. The state was appropriated without consent of the people already residing in the territory. Futhermore, if the UN is to remain consistent, then Muslims should receive an entirely new state because of the attrocities committed against them in Darfur, and the same can be argued about the Sri Lankans and the Tibetans. Although, it is also improper to claim that the state should be Palestine. While Israel does not have the right to exist as a state, the territory cannot be governed solely under Palestinian authority because that would be unjust to the Israelis living there, and it would only continue the tradition of occupation that has plagued that region for so long. Unfortunately, the only proper solution to the problem, in my opinion, is a unified state with a popularly elected representative legislature with representation for both sides. While this goal is very idealistic and difficult to attain, I think it can be done (South Africa being a good example), but it will require the proper leadership, and a declaration of statehood for Palestine will not help.
The 1967 borders concentrate Palestinian territory to the center of the land area, and allow Israel control of everything else. The necessary implication is that Israel controls trade, immigration, and economic production. This will not change or better the reality for the Palestinians. More importantly, the 1967 boundaries still leave the highly contentious area of Jerusalem up for grabs, as control of that territory was never agreed upon. As far as statehood for Palestine is concerned, I fear it will only harm the peace process by providing a more solid ground for conflict. While it may allow Palestine to establish government, legitimate boundaries, and a presence in the international community, it will not further the goal of a unified state.
Netanyahu, Meshal, and Obama are not the people who will allow true lasting peace to happen. Netanyahu claims to want a peaceful solution, but his policies and support of IDF tactics clearly indicate otherwise. He also refuses to go back to the 1967 borders, claiming that it will be a peace based on lies. He does not believe that Palestinians have legitimate authority over those territories. Not to mention, he has supported cutting off supplies and resources to the Palestinians, essentially causing the population to starve, suffer, and wither away. Meshal is too weak to deal with a political situation as contentious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He seems to want a quick and efficient resolution which will legitimize his name as well as Hamas’s, and not necessarily lead to lasting peace in the region. I cannot pretend to actually know what either individual is actually thinking. I am just commenting on what their interviews and policy initiatives indicate to me. As far as Obama is concerned, his motivations are unclear. I really don’t understand why the United States is so firmly fixated on the 1967 boundaries. I suspect there is something going on that the government doesn’t want the public to know. Either way, it is clear that the American leadership is not concerned with peace, as is evidenced by their continued financial and military support of Israel.
The situation calls for a Mandella-like figure who can unite the two sides through eroding the emotional walls that both sides have put up, and also by eroding the pseudo-Berlin wall that Israel has put up. Until such a figure can come to power, I sincerely doubt if any progress will be made. Although, I do not think Palestinian statehood will help.