Friday, November 5, 2010

thoughts on a very tough question

Some concerned people, mostly of the politically liberal persuasion, say that the wars this country is currently involved in are wrong, the growth and spread of terrorist groups is largely our fault by being there and creating a class of dispossessed to be lulled into violence, that we should just leave and maybe then they wouldn't have as much reason hate us so much.  The global reach of our policies, our mass consumption of resources, our witness and participation in torture in wrongful civilian death is evil, we have nothing clear and right to fight for, and we need to just stop it.  Plus it's a huge money drain.

Sometimes I have thought this, but as I hash it out I find that I actually disagree.

What we have done as a country, directly or not, has often been harmful to people of other nations. Climate change is the one example I keep coming back to.  It was us who put the Taliban in power, not noticing the ticking time bomb that was, not recognizing or acknowledging or caring that some things that aren't communist are also pretty evil.

We will never fully match our ideals, and I doubt any human civilization ever can.

But we shouldn't forget what separates us from the people we are fighting these wars to stand against. The individual leaders of terrorist glorify in violence in the name of religion, use fear and control among their own people to grab and hold on to power, violently oppress the female half of their society.

I want my country to truly exemplify the ideals I've no doubt had brainwashed into me, and I know that it falls pitifully short of doing so sometimes.  We do seek to spread our ideals into the rest of the world--and you know what I would rather live in a world where a woman I disagree with on pretty much everything can run for vice president and I can just vote against her than in a world where little girls are doused with acid for committing the crime of trying to go to school despite being female.   I don't particularly want to be ashamed of a system that works however imperfectly to prevent violence in the face of a group of people who glorify in it.

If we cut our losses and leave those wars, we'd start being able to make some dents in the deficit, for one.  Our troops would be safe, for the meantime anyway, and pressure on civilians in those countries caught in the middle might be eased.  They could decide on their own then, if they would oppose radicalized Islam or tolerate and potentially be subsumed by it.  It many ways they have the right to that decision.   Perhaps there would be less terrorist recruitment, as war-torn, jobless, angry young men would not so readily be given reason and opportunity to blow themselves up for Al Queida.

But at this point, I doubt our withdrawal would stop any of it.  The leaders want what we hold up as good about our society to burn along with the greed and corruption they so protest.

Does our presence there or not make a different anymore?  Does it make it better or worse for the people living there?  Does it make us safer from terrorism? I don't know what we should do, and I don't know how to fix it.  But I know it's dead wrong to think that if we just leave them alone they'll suddenly stop attacking us.  They probably won't even stop harming the civilians around them.

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