Volume 96, Issue 8
Wednesday, September 11, 2002

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Stranger in a strange land

Tess Hooks
Sociology and Women's Studies

To be a stranger in a strange land is an eerie feeling, especially when that strange land is the land of my birth.

In August, I drove through 15 American states while on vacation with my family. As we crossed the border, I was taken aback by the number of American soldiers searching cars in their camouflage uniforms.

I produced proof of my US birth and my Canadian citizenship card. Then I noticed the first of many cars with bumper stickers proclaiming "The Power of Pride" over a fluttering American flag. Patriotism and flag waving have always been a part of the US identity, but the reaction to the events of 9/11 have intensified the feelings of many Americans. Somewhere around Washington D.C., I saw a van with the image of a bald eagle biting Osama bin Laden's head. The caption read, "The Eagle is Pissed."

Indeed, the Eagle is pissed. Perhaps because the US felt immune to acts of violence and terrorism, the feeling conveyed by many bumper stickers is one of defiance, anger and righteous indignation. How dare they attack our country? What seemed to be missing was reflection – the kind of reflection which, a generation earlier, ultimately led to the US withdrawing from the awful and futile morass of Vietnam, a useless war which claimed 58,000 Americans and as many as two million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.

Let me be clear. The United States was violently attacked by a perverse group of individuals who have abused the Islamic faith in the service of their ideological and fanatical fascism. There can be no justification for the events of 9/11 – none.

But, let me be equally clear. American foreign policy, not only under the moronic George Bush Jr., but also his CIA daddy and Bubba Clinton in between, have done little to deflect the criticisms that have been launched against the United States. There are obviously many factors involved in every foreign policy, but one cannot help but come to the conclusion that such things as oil and business interests are paramount to US concerns. While mouthing platitudes about virtue and democracy, the US has financially and militarily supported some of the most corrupt, dictatorial, right wing regimes in the world.

American governmental arrogance has also been evident in other areas as well.

Washington has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. It has threatened the United Nations mission in Bosnia in an attempt to subvert the establishment of an International Criminal Court. Instead, Bush coerced a five-year exemption from the United Nations – just before word of atrocities toward Taliban prisoners of the war in Afghanistan leaked out. And now the US is threatening to go it alone in Iraq. The United States seems intent on starting a war with a country that has already been devastated by a 10-year international embargo.

In 1995, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization reported over a half million Iraqi children had died as a direct result of these sanctions. How many more men, women and children will die to satisfy the United States' need for vengeance in the War on Terrorism?

A year after Sept. 11, I do not feel safer. Instead, I feel unsettled and threatened, despite the soldiers dressed in army fatigues at the border. The War on Terrorism can not be won militarily or even with greater security. Yes, the perpetrators of 9/11 must be brought to justice, but justice must also be brought to the world by eliminating the global inequities that fan the flames of terrorism. A renewed and thoughtful US foreign policy could do much to alleviate global injustice and, hence, terrorism.


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