This whole "war on terrorism" / Iraq / 9-11 / UN "irrelevence" / oil / protest / etc. situation has got me thinking: What are our true goals, and what are the best way to achieve these? Now...this is how I work through this logically, without patriotism, without anger, without passion.
I would like to think that our goal is for peace. if this is the case, then I assume we want our allies to like us, and to no longer have any enemies.
The first part of this is quite easy: if you show respect to them, enter into treaties and negotians with them as an equal partner, and deal fairly with allies, they should like you. It's all about figuring out ways that you can mutually benefit.
The second part is a bit more complicated. To me it seems logical that killing people makes you more, not less enemies. Since you cannot (and should not) kill all of your enemies' childeren, friends, family, etc., you will only cause more enemies to be created through violence. We all know that one of the reasons we are attacked in the first place, is because we have already killed so many people (millions due to attacks and sanctions, in the case of Iraq, alone). Plus, since we live in a supposedly civilized world, where murder is the paramount of moral evil, it seems as though killing should be avoided. Furthermore, killing doesn't come cheap these days, so maybe we could save a few bucks for our schools, parks and public programs by avoiding some bomb building.
Well, if you're not going to bomb all your enemies off the face of the planet...how should you deal with them? Well, in the case of foreign policy, I think that the first logical step would be to figure out why you have enemies in the first place. It seems as though there are a lot of people out there that truly hate the US. How many people in the US can say that they have any idea as to why this is? Few, I imagine. Our leaders like to tell us that it is just some insane, religious zealots...but we all know better than that. I think that the answers are probably best found in our history.
So, looking at our history (and I'm not talking about you 8th Grade school version), we can find lots of things that might make people hate us. We have killed for money more times than we can count. We have supported evil regimes and overturned good ones. We have polluted the Earth (which we should all be sharing) way more than everybody else combined. We have assasinated leaders, we have deceived nations, we have stolen and raped. Our last fifty years alone can provide us with infinite examples of all these attrocities. These seem like they might cause some people to hate us...the children of those whose lives we've ruined.
But, nobody likes to look at history. It's too academic, and few people like gathering information from books. It it's not on the History Channel, it doesn't seem to make an impact. Everytime I hear "patriots" defend their beloved country's attrocities, I pray that they would go back and read the amazing philophies of 18th Century Enlightenment on which their country was founded...Rousseau, Voltaire, Descartes, etc. Their ideas on human liberty go so contrary to these cries for torture, these unprovoked attacks on foreign nations, etc. Jefferson and Franklin must be rolling in their graves.
But I digress...
Why else would we be hated? People hate us so much that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to see harm come to us. That is a lot of hate. Aside from historical reasons, there must be contemporary ones. For this, we must look to foreign policy. Nobody likes a bully, yet our foreign policy-makers are the world's biggest bullies. The key trait to a bully is that he acts like he is better than everybody else, and has the right to push others around, and not be pushed himself. It is this belief in being above the rules that makes bullies so terrible. Yet, in our foreign policy dealings, we often seem to place ourselves above the rules and surrounding society. Whether it is going along with a UN vote, signing the Kyoto accords, participating on a conference on racism (only the US and Israel left), owning terrible weapons of destruction, etc., etc. We seem to feel like we can tell others what to do, but have no ear for them telling us what we should do. We feel like we can bomb other states, but how dare anybody bomb us. Nobody likes a bully who thinks they have the right to live outside the rules of decency, yet feels the right to push others around. I could see why we might be hated for our current arrogance.
I always love John Lennon's (or was it Yoko's?) quote: "What if there was a war, and nobody showed up?" Indeed, this would be an easy reality. All it would take is for nobody to attack anybody else. Pre-emptive strikes on other countries have long been seen as wrong. Iraq has no way of pre-emptively striking us...so we can't even use the old, "We're getting them first, 'cause they're about to get us" excuse. Yet, somehow, the people here have become convinced that our policy should include pre-emptive strikes...how strange. (My mom taught me only to fight in self defense...)
Perhaps we're also hated for our material imperialism, our cultural imperialism, our unfair trade practices, our unfair immigration practices. Maybe some people hate us for playing favorites...supporting nations that are far more evil than some of those we don't support. (Guess who the number one and number 2 countries are at the top of the "Defying UN resolutions" list? America's allies, Israel and Turkey).
So...since our original goal was to create peace (which includes not having people fly planes into our buildings), and since we'd like to do it with as little bloodshed as possible (since this is the only way to make it permanent), I would think that what we would be spending our time and energy on is making people hate us a little less. And, maybe putting McDonalds on all of their blocks isn't the best way to do this. Perhaps, sitting with them, asking for their grievences (and giving them ours), and finding solutions, so that we can like each other, would be a better, less bloody, more effective way to achieve our goal of world peace. Maybe, stopping our empiriacal, violent, and relatively evil escapades abroad could make everybody get along. Maybe then, we could save trillions of dollars in military spending, and solve some of our own problems.
In logical terms...the problem is: we don't want to get attacked. Why do we get attacked? Because we are hated. Therefore, if we are less hated, we'll get less attacked.
Hawks try to tell us that we solve the problem by destroying the haters. Yet...if this in turn causes more haters to be created (and i think that polling across nations of the world prove this to be true), then we are not solving the problem. We are solving an immediate symptom, but further enlarging the cause.
Now, before you dismiss me as a peacenik or naive optimist (of which I am neither), I want to know where the break in logic is here.
Of course, since the US is doing exactly the opposite of what I suggest. Since we are creating more enemies, creating more bloodshed, losing more friends, betraying the principles that founded this country, and creating less peace...I think that maybe our goal is not for peace. So the real question is: what is the goal we are pursuing...and is it right?
[ March 05, 2003, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: konbit ]
With desire, the world is tied down. With the subduing of desire it\'s freed. With the abandoning of desire all bonds are cut through.