it possible for America to say
TFF PressInfo #
September 20, 2001
LONDON - How should the United States fight Osama bin
Laden? It could start by saying sorry. Despite two
centuries of rapid immigration pulling in people from all
over the world, America remains a predominantly Christian
nation. It is not a Jewish one and certainly not an
Islamic one. It draws its inspiration from another book,
mightier, it believes, than the Old Testament or the
Koran, although it shares common roots with both these
religions and worships the same God.
If Christianity is not about saying sorry and turning
the other cheek what, at the end of the day, is so
special about it? We have a lot to be sorry for.
After all it was Christian societies that practised
slavery. It was a Christian society that tolerated the
long persecution and then the obliteration of the Jews.
(Islamic societies, even in their worst times, have never
set about the extermination of the Jewish people.) And in
a more recent era it is Christian societies which stirred
up war in Africa in their quest for Cold War allies,
destroyed Afghanistan, the scorched refuge of bin Laden,
in a misplaced and unnecessary attempt to aid the
resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and
allowed the legitimate desire of the Jewish people to own
their own state to degenerate into the contemporary
world's worst example of military occupation and
imperialistic land acquisition.
Perhaps it seems extraordinary that a political writer
should have nothing better to say than "say sorry". In a
week when innocent bodies in New York and Washington are
being buried, when children cry all night for their lost
parents, when lonely widows and widowers ask themselves
how they will ever take another step forward through
life, is this the time for contrition?
It is hard to make the argument, that I know. But
where does hatred take us, where does revenge, where does
it end if, as President George Bush says, "there are no
rules"? Do we want to make the situation worse or do we
want to take a momentous leap of imagination and reach
out to make it better?
The military solution, however sympathetically one
looks at it, appears at the very least counterproductive.
As a recent publication by the hard headed International
Institute for Strategic Studies argued it, going after
the Taleban regime in Afghanistan will likely destabilise
its friendly neighbour Pakistan and throw a nuclear-armed
country into the hands of the militants.
Beyond that, what would be the point of inflaming
Islamic societies everywhere if it led to the fall of the
fundamentalist (but friendly) government of Saudi Arabia?
If Saudi Arabia were ruled in a fashion true to its
Wahhabi ultra- fundamentalist creed not only would there
be no U.S. troops on Saudi soil, it would be an end to
the (uneasy) coalition against Saddam Hussein, there
would be a cataclysmic shortfall in western oil supplies,
and the turning of Saudi missiles from pointing towards
Iraq in the direction of Israel instead.
It would also probably push Saudi Arabia to develop
nuclear weapons to put on the nose of its nuclear-capable
rockets it bought from China, and this to threaten Israel
with. Is America going to occupy Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia to forestall that scenario? Then the house would
really fall in.
The reason America has reached this fork in the road
is because, as with so many other issues, America has put
off biting the bullet on hard problems. Politicians and
the media have connived to keep the populace ignorant of
what is going on in the world. Only in extreme times of
emergency - such as the current one and the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait- is there an intense effort made to
educate public opinion, and then that is done at a fever
pitch with truth and objectivity being given short
Yet all over the world there are silent emergencies
that have continued to be combated half heartedly, whilst
they have developed a head of power that in the end
steamrollers all modest solutions. This is as true of
global warming as it is of the Israeli settlement policy
on Palestinian land. This is as true of the spread of
AIDS and other highly infectious diseases as it is of the
West's over-consumption of energy. This is as true of the
proliferation of nuclear weapons, for want of a
disarmament lead from the ex-Cold War nuclear powers, as
it is of the Western tolerance of child labour in
factories making their consumer goods.
This is as true of children dying in Africa and other
Third World countries for want of pure drinking water and
the lack of education of young girls as it is of the
ubiquitous use of torture because of the ever slow
response of Western governments to pre-empt deteriorating
human rights situations, indeed often propping up
repressive regimes with financial credits and arms sales.
(And, by the way, where would America try a captured bin
Laden if not before the International Criminal Court to
which it is bitterly opposed?)
To lay all these problems at America's feet is to
ignore Europe's own culpability. The old continent, if
perhaps on occasion wiser and better informed about the
rest of the world, has only intermittently done much
better. Now it must wake up too.
To say sorry is but the beginning. Then the work must
I can be reached by phone +44
7785 351172 and e-mail: JonatPower@aol.com
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