Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Offworld Speaks Truth to Power

I received this exchange in email between our very own Offworld and a man whom I shall name Simplicio (HT Galileo). This states the case so well I deemed it worthy of front page publication.

I would like for someone to explain to me how Iraq is ground zero for the war on Terrorism. It seems to me that terrorism directed towards the US is simply the result of our mideast policies. If we want to avoid terrorism we have only to withdraw from the mideast. And thereby save the billions we are spending to set up our home defenses.

Blaming the victim is easy but it is wrong. When the victim blames his or herself, it only invites the continuation of violence.

In principle, I would prefer that we not engage in these foreign adventures -- I would prefer that we trade with everyone and not make war. History leaves us with a complicated mess though and our past policies are only one little piece of the picture. Pulling out of the Middle East, in the sense of not defending our interests there, is quite unrealistic for the next twenty years at least and would require us to build a lot of nuclear power facilities. Also we can not leave Israel all on its own. If we cannot stick up for our allies, then our alliance means nothing. How do we wish to be perceived? This is not about how we feel about ourselves based on others' opinions but rather of strategic importance. Other nations and peoples will deal with us accordingly.

We should be no greater friend, and no worse enemy. We should be slow to fight but fearless once roused. We should be magnanimous in victory. We should be open and generous yet keenly aware and defensive of our interests. When we have failed in any of these respects as we did in Yalta and Vietnam, the effects have been disastrous for ourselves and for others. Above all, we should not be feckless and fickle as this will invite disorder, chaos and violence upon us and many other good people in the world.

Evil exists and will continue to operate whether we stay home or not.


Unknown said...

Yeah and if you just refuse to go outside after dark, barricade the door, keep a loaded shotgun at your side and rarely venture beyond your driveway...why would anyone do you harm?

In truth isolationism and appeasement have gotten us in more trouble than out of it in the past.

Clinton asked for and got more concessions from the Isralis than any President. He did not respond to terrorist attacks with anything other than a few cruise missiles and an arrest warrant. He ran from Somalia. He did very little about the attempt by Saddam to kill a president and yet....the attacks went on and when the Towers fell Palestinians were dancing in the streets.

If all we had to stop these conflicts was withdraw, I am sure it would have been done by now.

truepeers said...

So, Simplicio believes the "root cause" of terrorism and resentments communicated in the name of Islam is the US propensity to make Arab chieftains rich. (Do the terrorists resent more the unequal distribution of these riches or the fact of their existence and the minimal American presence in insuring the commerce that creates them?)

But the root cause of irrational hatred and violence is not something one can rationally pinpoint. (To even point the finger at "the concept of Jihad", which would be relatively close to the mark, is still to rationalize the irrational.) Either you believe that terrorism is a rational reaction to western colonialism, the Zionists, the lords of the marketplace, or whatever other scapegoat you favor, as if cause and effect in such matters were like lighting a match to start a fire) or you believe that irrational violence cannot and should not be given any rational justification or explanation, whatever the many problems under which people do indeed suffer. And I accent *many problems*, for it is precisely the game of the scapegoater - blame Amerikka! - to seek to reduce the many forces at play in our lives to the "root cause", and thus to deny that ultimately only we can take responsibility for our own lives, whatever hand we're dealt.

The root cause of resentment is the human propensity to resentment itself, and resentment is inherently delusional, as anyone who would reflect rationally on resentment while feeling resentful knows. It can't be done. The question does not even arise since we have to snap out of the resentful feeling, the delusion, before we can even begin to think rationally about it.

The root cause of irrational violence is an inability to control or transcend your resentments. And this is essentially an inability rooted in a failure of education or culture to do its job in the evolving contexts in which it finds itself.

Simplicio is somewhat resentful and deluded. While he's still got one foot in the door of non-violence (his culture works to some extent - he still writes instead of fighting or dieing) the other is in the camp of the irrational (even if only there to blame itself for others' violence). There are millions like this. Can they stay stetched between delusions and a working culture forever? Ultimately, which way will they go? When will we know the result, and will we survive it?

chuck said...


Presumably,by the same token,the way to prevent robbery is not to own anything.

Hey, it works, don't knock it. When I was living in NYC my car was broken into and the good stuff stripped out. I left it that way and never had a problem after that.