|As I write, we are only hours away from bombing the cradle of civilization, the country between the Tigris and the Euphrates more commonly referred to as Iraq. For the first time in modern history, the United States is about to preemptively attack a nation without direct provocation, and is willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands, if not millions of innocent Iraqi civilians in the process. The city of Baghdad in itself has over 5 million residents - roughly two thirds of the population of New York City or one and a half times that of Los Angeles - and if President Bush's speeches are any indication, we are about to reduce it to a mound of rubble. But amid the administration's excited marketing of a destructive war, it failed to mention the disastrous consequences this war will likely have on international affairs and security.
If the administration's focus is really putting an end to terrorism, maybe it should look at why it occurs in the first place. Might it relate to endemic failings of US foreign policy? Or maybe those promises of "you work with us on this issue and we'll give you a zillion dollars" backfired one too many times, as when the Bush administration gave the Taliban $43 million to halt the production of heroin in May 2001. For decades the US has waged a silent war of coercion and exploitation around the world, striking back-door deals with corrupt officials and businessmen at the expense of the populous. Not surprisingly, that angered some people, especially those who cherish the very values Mr. Bush claims to export: freedom and justice. But then there are always those who shrug off injustice, assuming that this is the way the world works: only the strong (and rich, and well armed) survive. I am in no way condoning terrorism, but people are entitled to basic human rights, and sometimes the only recourse is to fight back. Terrorism usually stems from frustrations that run so deep and are ignored for so long by those in power that there seems to be no outlet aside from violence. For lack of a better correlation, terrorists, like most murderers, are pushed and pushed until they snap. This is a very simplistic explanation, because there are so many other factors involved. Religious doctrine is often manipulated to legitimize violence in the minds of terrorists (as it has in our administration) and make it more difficult to stop. Poverty and illiteracy are also contributing factors, as they make it easier for potential brainwashing. Those who have little to lose, be they possessions or loved ones, are more likely to fight for a potential reward or the prospect of a better life (as is the case with Palestinian suicide bombers).
Of course, the world will always have its share of extremists whose views will never coincide with the general consensus. But our goal as a wealthy and "democratic" nation should not be to create environments which breed anger and hatred, and eventually, terrorism. And yet, we are about to do just that in Iraq. Children in Iraq are having prescient nightmares of bombs falling on their houses, asking their parents why America wants to harm them. Imagine how they will grow up. Still, the administration believes that the survivors of the war will look to America as a savior. One must ask how they arrived at that conclusion, because if a bomb fell on my home, I don't think I would greet the offenders with milk and cookies, and I don't think I would forget it ever happened. The more likely scenario is that the youth of Iraq will grow up angry at America for bombarding their homeland. The repercussions of child trauma (whether from molestation or war) can be irreversible, leaving those affected compelled to carry out vengeance to regain a sense of control. To put it bluntly, by waging an unprovoked war on Iraq, we are about to create another generation of America-haters, even though the supposed purpose of this war is to avert future terrorist attacks. For the sake of humanity I hope I am wrong, but deep in my heart, I fear the worst is yet to come.
The War That Created More Terror
By Vanessa Hradsky
March 19, 2003
Vanessa Hradsky is a freelance writer in NYC. Please
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