Time to stop and ask why?
Re: “The real lessons of Afghanistan?” Issue #4-2010, P. 28+
One of the things I have often thought, since September 11, 2001 is this: If George Bush on that day had asked himself (and his advisors) – “Why would anyone want to invade the U.S. and smash our World Trade Centre Towers?” – the history of the past 10 years, and probably the next 10 years too, would be quite different.
Instead, Bush snarled over TV and broadcast around the world (I saw it in New Delhi, India), “We will smoke them out of their holes!” It is questionable whether even today, the American public and their decision-makers really know how the U.S. is perceived, and why.
I found Scott Kemp’s article interesting. After an initial reflex action of enlisting in the military services – “They hit us; we’ll fight them” – he grows to the stage of stating, “I became a journalist to ask why. I became a solider to fight evil. It never occurred to me that these proverbial diverging roads would meet. But they did.”
He concludes that Queen’s must continue to be a university that teaches its students to ask why. I agree.
But I do not agree with his perception of “pacifists” as people “who believe our country, our values and our civilization are not worth defending.” Some of us believe that using military might to try to solve problems is a strategy that will never work. Violence begets violence. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind.”
Negotiated settlements of disputes, people-to-people contacts, respect for others’ positions, collective international strategies … we pacifists defend our country, values, and civilization with such approaches. Would it not be time to ask, “Why does all the killing continue in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan when there has been so much of men, money, and machines invested there in trying to bring Peace? Why?"