(Percy Bysshe Shelley) (From Brainy Quote)
George W. Bush vowed revenge from the pile of rubble that was the Twin Towers immediately after the 9/11 disaster. Hence the wars in both Afghanistan, and also, for different reasons, in Iraq. The doomsday scenario of 9/11 itself was an act of vengeance and revenge on the twin world powers of America and Israel, as seen from the caves of Afghanistan. Anyone who walked up that unpainted scaffold to peer into the abyss following the 9/11 bombing of the twin towers, and to cower in the face of carbon-painted buildings, from the fires ignited by those millions of gallons of aircraft fuel cannot fail to be viscerally moved to reflect on the scope and the depth of the impending threat.
Legitimizing revenge, as George W. Bush and his crony Cheney, did once again for the 21st century has got the world into a pile of trouble. Bombing Iraq and Syria, both essentially failed states, in spite of the billions of dollars and the thousands of lives "spent" to reconfigure them as "democracies" is having its own pay-back:
- witness the bombing of the Russian passenger jet over the Sinai
- witness the horror of the six barbaric attacks in Paris last night
- witness the Charlie Hebdo massacre also in Paris
- witness the Boko Haram attacks on innocent Christians
- witness the bullets fired into the skull of Malala
- witness the assassination of Captain Cirillo while standing guard at the National War Monument in the centre of Ottawa and the drive-over murder of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec
Rounding up accomplices, charging them with crimes against humanity, will feed our appetite for justice. However, it was Mohamed Fahmy, appearing at Carleton University in a penetrating interview conducted by CBC Senior Correspondent, Nail MacDonald, who reminded us that, to the Islamic terrorists, it is the west, including the Americans, who are the terrorists.
Revenge for terrorism, the obvious plying emotional ointment on our open wounds of both pride and human treasure, now numbering in the thousands, will, in the end have the impact of demeaning all participants whose motive is captured by Shelley's naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age.
Daily, we hear the drum-beat of barbarism, of beheadings, of targeted assassinations, of a missile-crushed hospital staffed by volunteers from Doctors without Borders in Afghanistan, by the Americans, after, we now learn, a formal request from Afghan military who knew that hospital was caring for both western troops and Taliban, their hated enemy. Daily we also hear of the billions of dollars that have been spent on "national security" and defending the homeland, especially from the American press. And, all decisions and the actions that execute those decisions are premised on the concept that defeating the Islamic terrorists will be the ultimate reward for those decisions, actions, and the men and women who lose their lives in that fight.
Syria is awash with acts of revenge, starting from the top with Assad who has allegedly used chemical weapons on his enemies, his own people, moving to rebels, allegedly armed and supported by the United States, and opening the door to ISIS terrorists whose entry into the open cracks in this failed state have provided a battlefield for recruits, along with the video documentaries of dozens of acts of brutality. Iraq, too, has been laid waste by over a decade of civil war, now supplemented by Iranian forces, supporting the Shia majority, as the Sunnis in the western part of that so-called country prefer a Shia government to taking up arms against the Sunni terrrorists.
In most school-yard fights, "he started it" echoes in the memories of school administrators, and the blaming phrase comes from both combatants. Who really started it hardly matters if one of the combatants is lying on the ground unconscious, after receiving a severe kick in the head from the army boot of his opponent. The trigger, too, that turned the adrenalin "on" to land the first blow, is also irrelevant, in the aftermath of the damage.
Politicians can and will point to the extremely complicated set of variables, in most failed or failing states like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, (we must not fail to note Pakistan in this list!) as a way to couch whatever proposals they might offer to get the world out of the mess we are in.
Everyone wants to eradicate the scourge of ISIS or whatever name it prefers; everyone wants Muslim countries and their soldiers and airmen to take up the fight (except perhaps those very Muslim states themselves); everyone knows that 'if we don't put soldiers on the ground to take their terrorist fanatics "out" then, as the current cliché goes, we will see our own blood spilled on our own streets, as it has been this weekend in Paris.
However, there is a vacuum-like pressure coming from ISIS itself to have the "west" commit troops to the fight they are just baiting us to join. And into that vacuum, many of the current conservative candidates for president are more than willing to rush. A couple are more isolationist. On the Democratic side, the three primary candidates, Sanders, Clinton and O'Malley all envision enhanced intelligence, a reshaped and refocused military, and a coalition of countries, including the Muslim countries that are so far bowing out, to provide a lethal injection to this virus.
For our part, this 'critical moment in history', as some are calling it, occurred two or three years ago. Nevertheless, hindsight does not move us forward; it only exposes our blindspots on our record.
This Islamic split between Sunni and Shia is both epic, in that it fully threatens the history and viability of the Muslim faith, and all Muslims, everywhere, must realize that danger, and join in the chorus and in the person-to-person conversation to stop the madness that threatens the safety and security of all "humanity" . (Obama calls the Paris attacks of yesterday "an attack on all humanity"!)
Bernie Sanders is holding a light on the need to reduce or even eliminate poverty and the lack of opportunity from all areas of his own country, and by example, from all countries in the world. While that initiative, if successful, would go a long way to removing one of the more fertile root causes of terrorism. It will, however, take decades to accomplish and we simply cannot go along for decades under this sword of Damacles
In other places, we have advocated for a vigorous and enhanced and fully funded information/education program, as another initiative to stop the flow of recruits to terrorist camps. Others have recommended the cutting off of all opportunities for funding, including black market sales of oil, in order to cut off the flow of "blood" that sustains ISIS. Humanitarian aid, in places where it is targeted, monitored and successfully delivered would also reduce the angst and the anger against the west and its uber-wealth.
Nevertheless, this weekend, the world stopped, looked into their television screens and asked themselves, "What is happening to the world? And how can or will the necessary intellectual, and strategic and creative collaboration be brought together, in unity, in solidarity and in a sustainable long-term program to deliver on the goal of eradicating this disease?"
And we are all necessary to the campaign to defeat the campaign of hatred that is founded, dishonestly and desperately on a perversion of a religion and a religious experience.
In this new "barbarous" age, (not merely "semi" as Shelley wrote about!), will revenge once again become the even larger and more penetrating "naked idol"?