Thoughts Following 9/11


Political Index

11/27/2001:  Another interesting set of articles may be found in tonight's Terrorism section, taken from the "Friday Times". These are interesting, well-written articles (Chomsky- 'rebel without a pause', Why are we flocking to hear Chomsky?, How shall we fare with him?, “Taliban let us down…” say Pakistani volunteers, With the Taliban gone, Pakistan is out in the cold, Noam Chomsky) that provide counterpoint to some of the other news pieces. I'm struck with the congruence between life in Lahore and life in New York or Washington. Only the names are different (and maybe some of the opinions). The image one gets is, perchance, a trifle  different than the image in my  second-grade geography book of a turbaned, bearded fakir sitting cross-legged in the dust, piping a cobra out of a wicker basket. These people are as alike us as us. However, there is horrible, grinding poverty in these countries. Five, six, and seven-year-old children are sold into what amounts to slavery, chained to their looms in rug-weaving factories. Women are increasingly being kidnapped and sold into white slavery in neighboring countries. Their parents are working for a dollar (60 rupees) a day, and can't make ends meet. In the Muslim nations, there is obviously a sense of political despair, as delineated in .The Politics of Rage- Why Do They Hate Us?, by Fareed Zakaria.
    It is the magic of the Internet that is now bringing us all together, with our noses pressed up against the glass. The plight of the third-worlders is transforming (in my opinion) from the edge of awareness to specific individuals' deprivations who will become as well known to us as our friends and neighbors. We're becoming one world. Articles are beginning to appear telling us that we must share our wealth with our cold and hungry neighbors. We must reduce our fossil fuel consumption--something that we can do with no personal hardships. (More about that in a later commentary.)
    What I wrote on September 14th seems to be relevant, and I'm repeating it below. 
    Humanity appears to me to be on the threshold of prosperity for all. With population projected to peak at 9,000,000,000 in 2070, it sounds as though the world could provide adequately for all of its people, with a flat or slowly rising standard of living for first-world nations, and a rapidly rising standard of living for second- and third-world citizens, until the world plateaus with comparable comforts for all. We are certainly becoming a global village. I think that many if not most of us would be willing to sacrifice to help our less-fortunate neighbors if we knew that they were really in need, and that they were really deserving. After all, most of us lead lives doing for others, anyway.
    Politically, it may be necessary to blend governments and economies over time, as Europe is doing. I can see a disadvantage to that in terms of the centralization of power it would engender, and the opportunity for a sick, power-hungry autocrat to take control. However, it may be necessary to grow the world together in order to restrain warfare. We know it can be done. We're doing it in the United States.
    This, I believe, is where we need to go.
    Seen in this light, Tuesday's wanton mass murders are acts of witless evil. Even given the most compelling reasons to hate the United States, the end does not justify any means, particularly means that were as vicious and feckless as Tuesday's blood baths. I've been at a loss to imagine what these terrorists thought they would accomplish. One possibility, though, might be to draw the United States into a quagmire like Vietnam or the Soviet-Afghanistan morass. Provoking us into provoking others would be a rewarding move. Other questions that concern me are what our side might or might not have done, or be doing abroad.
    I've thought that the most effective punishiment for the fanatics who are perpetrating these acts would be, if they could be caught, to sentence them to caring for the orphans they've created. When you have to explain to a three-year-old why you murdered her parents, it might get next to you in spite of yourself.
    A few thoughts on the part of someone who doesn't know enough to say more:
(1) I think we mustn't lump Mid-Easterners with a handful of Mideastern thugs. That would be like identifying all Americans with Timothy McVay or Ted Kaczynski. The U. S. is full of native-born Americans with roots in the Middle East. I could imagine that many Middle Easterners died in the World Trade Center towers and on board the hijacked aircraft.
(2) We are fighting ideas and ideologies
(3) The Middle East appears to bear some resemblance to the Balkans. The hatreds that are developing between the Israelis and the Palestinians seem only to escalate.
(4) In making restitution, we must be careful that we don't assault our friends.
    Here are a few additional references I found that address what has happened. These lead on to many other references.
They Can't See Why They Are Hated  - Wired News
Lessons from the front line in the war to counter terrorism