Watching Obama and others of our so-called “leaders” try to formulate some kind of response to the new and truly scary Islamic State is one of those it’d-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-so-sad/sad-if-it-weren’t-so-funny things we see so much of these days. Now there really is a scary Islamic new kid on the block — move over, Osama…And, hey, Bush-Obama-next representative of global capitalism — the global “war on terror,” how’s that working’ out for ya? A cartoon by Wasserman on the editorial page of my local paper shows a general pointing to Iraq on a wall map and saying, “We’re intervening to correct our last intervention, which was to make up for the intervention before that.” One of the suits at the table cries, “It’s a self-sustaining foreign policy!” Yeah, and don’t think the arms manufacturers and others who care about nothing but $$$ don’t know that.
On the facing page, the first letter to the editor asks if there’s “any limit to the number of American lives our government will sacrifice on the sands of the Middle East. And for what? It appears the death of James Foley is now to be” added to the list of phony reasons Americans are sent overseas to kill and be killed. “Will there ever be enough maimed and dead American bodies to satisfy our politicians and military?” No. Because they’re trying to maintain an empire run for profit- and power-hungry capitalist corporations and financial institutions. The men who run these entities are muy macho, too, even though they’ll never risk their lives or those of their kids. Their mantra: If anyone has an issue with us and actually dares to oppose us, we’ll eliminate them with a bomb, a missile, or whatever it takes. Force!!! We’re tough, and we rule.
The only problem is: these “others” opposing “us” are human beings with lives, feelings, and their own need for dignity. Israel, the Little Bully, discovered this more resoundingly than ever this summer in Gaza. And the more you try to crush them, the more radical they get. Back in the ’60s, young Muslim men in the Middle East, which was just emerging from colonialism, were largely secular and nationalist in their hopes and dreams. But the US blocked their often democratic ambitions for short-term Cold War and other gains, supporting dictatorships in countries like Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. It’s continued to block their aspirations, which over 50 years have become more and more based on hate-based, violent fundamentalist religion. The Islamic State is a revolt of Sunni majorities in Syria and Iraq against despotic minority Shia rule. In the case of Iraq, this minority rule — the regime of Nuri al-Maliki — was put in place and supported by the United States, which is now belatedly asking for more representative government.
The only way to have peace and some measure of “security,” if that’s truly your primary goal, is to share resources (not try to take more than your share) and respect the rights, dignity, and humanity of others. But peace and security aren’t the primary goals of the US, Israel, Russia, or most nation-state, elite-run governments. (Speaking of Russia, the other political cartoon in my paper this morning showed Putin and “Europe” sitting across from each other at a table, with Putin cutting a big steak in half with a meat cleaver. Europe’s piece was labeled “Ukraine,” Putin’s “Mykraine.”)
Alice Walker on the “War on Terror,” Yes magazine, Fall 2012
I think the War on Terror is really absurd, especially coming from a country founded on terrorism. The hypocrisy of that is corrosive; and we should not accept it. There is no way of stopping terrorism if you insist on making enemies of most of the people on the planet. Why should they care about you? All they feel is fear.
So, I would stop the War on Terror and start making peace with the peoples of the planet by trying to understand them. I would like us to be able to say, “If that happened to me, I would feel exactly the way you do. And what can we do from here, from this understanding? What can we do together?”