J. Samuel Diaz
It was twelve years ago on September 11th that the world changed and a new privilege was granted to the U.S. government. It wasn’t a privilege granted by world leaders to the U.S. president, per se. It was much more similar to how, when Napoleon Bonaparte was going to be crowned as emperor that he snatched the crown away and, in haste, crowned himself with that title and authority.
And so, it was with the United States of America, whose populace became blinded in fear and anger and whose leaders moved to start the first of many destabilizing wars. In the end, it didn’t really matter how the wars started. Whether it was with lies or with honesty, the end result showed us with what means these countries were to be subdued. In Iraq, over one million are dead and tens of thousands left orphaned and hundreds of thousands maimed and crippled. Add to that the millions who now suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, many of whom are children, and you begin to realize that the means by which to grant the Iraqis their supposed freedom from a terrible ruler … was unjustified.
And so, it is on September 11th that we find ourselves as a nation looking upon the abyss and wondering whether there is any justification by which to justify the means to the end in removing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad from power. Does supporting supposed freedom fighters, whose ties to terrorism and al-Qaeda have been documented, become justified so long as we overthrow that … tyrannical and despotic ruler al-Assad, who is frequently photographed while dining with his family and who now stands accused of using chemical weapons? Well, the evidence is lacking and with each passing day, it looks more and more like it was the supposed freedom fighters who were behind the massacre.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin posed a profound question to the U.S.' President Barack Obama: “What will you do if the rebels are the ones using chemical weapons?” It is a thought-provoking question and one that challenges the logic behind the “end justifies the means” argument. For what does it mean when we lose our ability to rationalize so long as we get what we want? Do you still simply pursue a course of naked violence against uncooperative governments? Do you purposely devastate their infrastructure and leave a vacuum that then gets filled by terrorist groups? Or, do you take a moment to reflect on a question like the one posed by Volodya [Putin]?
It turns out roughly 90% of the U.S. population stands opposed to any intervention in Syria. Even though the names of the countries change – Iraq one day, Afghanistan another, and Iran, possibly, in the near future – Americans seem to have tired of the rationale for going to war. How many more photographed tragedies can we accept of orphans being consoled by U.S. troops, who just riddled their parents with bullets? How many stories of convoys running over children or of terrorists, who blow up entire blocks full of civilians? And this does not even cover the number of U.S. troops dying and getting maimed! This does not even cover the numerous war veterans who return home deadened to life and who quickly end it through suicide; 18 daily, by some estimates. But as our leaders might tell us: The end … justifies the means.
One thing to keep in mind about this new war against Syria is that the 90% of Americans opposed to the war have stood up. They did not go out in mass numbers to protest in the street and get beaten up and arrested as a means of getting their message televised. Instead, they signed petitions and called their elected politicians to express their disappointment and frustration with a government that, up to now, seemed adamant in refusing to listen to the will of the people.
Just a few weeks ago, the war rhetoric was powerful with Secretary of State John Kerry openly supporting rebels armed with Western weapons and training. It seemed as if the decision to bomb Syria directly with U.S. missiles had already been made! And yet, 90% of Americans stood up against this … armed only with their democratic petitions and messages sent to elected officials asking them to vote against any intervention in Syria.
Today, on the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, we find ourselves thinking about peace. Roads are open, commuters are driving to and from work, libraries are full of patrons perusing through books, and our elected leaders have stopped campaigning for war. Senator Alan Grayson’s online petition at DontAttackSyria.com has reached 91% of the 100,000 signers and each day more petitions are signed and submitted to elected officials to review and consider prior to voting on the issue.
Ironically, it was 40 years ago today when the CIA-led Operation Condor launched in Latin America. Forty years ago today, General Augusto Pinochet and his cadre of military officers bombed Chile’s presidential palace and overthrew a democratically elected president who then died under suspicious circumstances. Forty years ago, the overthrow of democratic Latin American governments began where their own citizens were arrested, imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, drugged and murdered by their own governments. It was yet another illustration of the ends justifying the means, whereby anything faintly associated with social values got directly connected to communism and violently suppressed.
So let us reflect on today’s 9/11, where peace has a chance: An 11th of September that perhaps can help the world reflect years from now on the fact that, back in the early 2000s, the world had been looking down the abyss of doom and destruction … and that 90% of our country’s population changed that.
The above article by J. Samuel Diaz originally appeared on September 11, 2013
at www.stratekia.org/. Diaz is a regular contributor to East Palo Alo Today.