Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 11, 2002
A failure to look very deep
In calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil," U.S. President George Bush invites comparisons with the Second World War and has sketched out a map of potential further invasions in his so-called war on terrorism. He has chosen the term used by Germany, Italy and Japan during World War Two to imply that the current "war" is on a scale similar to that bloodbath that wiped out tens of millions of lives.
In fact, Iran, Iraq and North Korea are not an axis at all in the sense of the former one. They are not conspiring, let alone running an organized conspiracy aimed at world domination. Iran and Iraq are bitter rivals and there's little to suggest that these countries are interested in taking potshots at the ankles of that Western world.
To be sure, American fears seem to be real. It was only five months ago that two of its major cities suffered attacks that killed thousands of people. Iran, Iraq and North Korea all have or are close to having, long-range missile capability, they are seeking nuclear weapons capability, and Iran and Iraq have chemical weapons. Why any of them would be so foolish as to use those weapons against the United States is a question that has not been answered.
"The civilized world faces unprecedented dangers," Bush argues. It is not at all clear that this is the case. To suggest that the dangers are no different than they have been for the past 10 years is not an argument for appeasement. It is a call for building bridges where they can be built and being realistic about the dangers that do exist.
Pope John Paul has asked us all to pray for peace. This advice will mean nothing to those eager to prepare for war, but it remains the most sage advice a human can give. There are forces for good that need to be unleashed and which can make this a safer, more friendly world. Prayer counts.
Still, the most puzzling follow-up to the Sept. 11 terrorism is the U.S.'s failure to investigate its own security failures. How can a country as powerful as the U.S., with as complex a foreign security system, have failed to prevent this massive loss of life? And why is it failing to examine what mistakes it made and how those mistakes can be avoided in the future?
Nor have there been any reports of reprimands to anyone in authority regarding the failure of U.S. fighter jets to get off the ground on Sept. 11 in response to well-known information about large commercial aircraft being wildly off course. These were, of course, the jets that ploughed into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
Established procedure would have military planes off the ground within minutes of an aircraft controller noticing such bizarre behaviour by commercial aircraft. In this case, it took almost two hours for the first military plane to take flight.
It is questions like these that the U.S. administration ought to be pursuing with great vigour, Instead, the president is rattling his sabres about attacking three nations that no one is suggesting are connected with the Sept. 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden has been summarily tried and convicted without a trial and without any evidence other than a highly questionable video of his supposedly having admitted to masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks. Al-Qaeda members are being detained far from the press in a manner defying the Geneva Convention and with no civil rights being allowed them.
While all this is going on, the U.S. ponders further invasions against hapless nations. This ought to be a cause of great concern. If the safety of innocent Americans is at stake then so is the safety of much greater numbers of the innocent in other nations. Heaven help us all.
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