The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Spelling it out

 Spelling it out
Spelling it out

Spelling it out

Sometimes I read or hear something that seems to make perfect sense. Problems and solutions are laid out clearly, arguments are supported or dispelled, and I am left with the feeling that all would be right if everybody could just get a good understanding of what I’ve just seen or heard.

Listening to speeches by Winona LaDuke (two-time Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate and Native American activist) leaves me with that impression, as does the paper available on the UK Green Party’s Web site that explains, in detail, how it is entirely possible to deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein without war. As it happens, by the time this column appears, the shooting may have already started.

I feel right now I have to do my best to state the facts of the case as well as it is done in those writings and speeches that I feel should be made clear to everyone. I should have done this a long time ago.

It’s important to note that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred in the United States, and not in any other Westernized, First World country. If religious fundamentalists really wanted to wage war against what they see as the evil of modernity, they would have a lot of much better choices for targets than the United States. If secularism bothers them, why did they attack the most religious First World country?

Organized Christianity is largely a thing of the past in much of Europe, and a Japanese student once asked a friend of mine, “Rebekah, why do Americans have religion?” Speaking of Japan, if the terrorists find relaxed sexual mores so odious, Japan is practically awash in smut.

If the terrorists are “jealous of wealth,” as some clueless observers have suggested, then why did they attack a country with a 20 percent child poverty rate? The Dutch rate stands at 3 percent, and the Dutch consider that far too high. Besides, there are lots of rich countries in the world today, several of which are extremely soft targets.

Iceland has no armed forces at all, New Zealand currently has no fighter jets, and Austria isn’t very well prepared to defend its neutrality.

To answer the fairly inane question of why “they” hate “us,” many answers have been put forward in the major media, but almost all of them miss the point.

What’s at work here is a phenomenon in American foreign policy known as blowback. It wasn’t the Irish who toppled the Iranian government in the mid-1950s and re-installed the heinous Shah. Finnish troops aren’t stationed in Saudi Arabia to help prop up the decadent and tyrannical Saudi royal family.

The Canadian government isn’t pulling the strings behind Pakistan’s General Musharraf, didn’t encourage the near-genocide committed by Indonesia’s dictator Suharto, and doesn’t hand Israeli governments a series of blank checks.

And nobody in Luxembourg considered Saddam Hussein a valuable ally for many years.

In all these cases and many more, the dots can be connected back to Washington, D.C. In a region filled with poverty and religious fundamentalism, the actions of the American government are bound to result in blowback.

One morning two Septembers ago, it all blew back, onto thousands of completely innocent people.

The links between our own government’s shortsighted actions and the barbaric responses of terrorist groups are not hidden. They are there for us all to see, and our elected leaders are willingly blind not to notice. The results, as we’ve seen, can be horrendous, and they’re probably going to get a lot worse.

The war with Iraq could easily produce blowback on an unprecedented scale. While some people in Iraq will certainly welcome the U.S. and UK troops as liberators, the potential for enormous civilian casualties and a massive humanitarian catastrophe will do more to inflame anti-American passions than anything seen previously.

If the violence and unrest spreads outside of Iraq, as has been predicted, U.S. troops could end up occupying more than one nation (this is a certainty if the radical nationalists in the Bush administration press on with their plans for Iran and Syria, and elsewhere).

We would do well to remember the dozens of American Marines and French paratroopers killed by terrorist bombings while stationed in Lebanon in 1983.

I haven’t even touched on the larger picture of international relations, but I hope it’s clear that the war in Iraq will be the defining moment of our generation.

We will be living with its consequences for decades, and our friends have been trying to warn us as only friends can. Jean Chretien, the Prime Minster of Canada, has broken some of his characteristic silence by announcing that no Canadian troops will be involved in this war without UN backing. Good for him.

At least somebody’s thinking ahead.

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