Barking At Terrorists
By Mike Ghouse
10 May, 2007
me in the ditch for the crimes I commit, inflict the punishment I deserve,
but please do not unleash your fury on my family, my parents, my town
or my religion. I should be responsible for my acts, and no one else.
This should be a common principal and norm we all should abide with.
There is always a reaction
to the biased phrase when some one is addressed as, “You people”.
We have seen reactions by Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus or African
Americans, Arabs, Caucasians and others when they hear that phrase,
“you people” in that particular tone. For the wrongs I do,
it should be, “Mike you goofed up” and not, “you guys”.
When a Jewish councilman was addressed in that fashion in Dallas in
2006, all of us were offended, and I took the step to condemn the sayer
of such a phrase through Dallas Morning News. I also make no exception
if my fellow Muslims speak in that tone.
You face the battle with
your kids when they go nuts, you do the best in disciplining them, and
when they are cranky, they will do the thing they know how; to be unruly,
challenging and sometimes even destructive. When you push a wild animal
to the corner, he knows he is done with, but before he crumbles, he
will charge on you and attempt to inflict whatever damage it can.
While the analogy of wild
animal in the case of terrorists may not be perfect, more often than
not we use an approach in delineating and classifying terrorists. We
have to develop a nuanced and conscientious approach in dealing with
terrorism. Some groups, such as al-Qaeda, are aimless in the sense,
there is no negotiable goals or agendas that be meaningfully contended
with. Therefore, there is not much room for flexibility. However, there
are many movement that engage in terrorism have legitimate and genuine
grievances as part of national resistance movement. Without addressing
those grievances, no preaching or pressure would eliminate such terrorism,
especially when many among these people have lost all hope for any solution
or resolution and have been pushed to the wall.
While we must not condone
any terrorism, we must also take the moral high ground by addressing
the underlying grievances and problems and avoid pursuing policies,
and undertaking ventures that provide new impetus to the terrorists,
as it has unfolded in Iraq. We have to figure in the frustration game
of new ones popping up and avoiding them. Pounding them with mega bombs
will not cut it, we do not have a record in history of such successes;
the Taliban’s are popping again. To create a just world for our
own peace and peace for others requires giving due attention to their
concerns without compromising our own deeply held values. We cannot
become oppressors ourselves in the pursuit of peace. The world communities
will be with us, with their hearts, in fighting the menace of terrorism,
if we go after the individuals responsible for the crimes and not their
families, not their nation or their religion. We will achieve far greater
success, if we learn to laser bark at the right criminals, instead of
barking at the universe. Others need to sense in our actions that we
are not barking at them, and then they will be with us.
"If you want to make
peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."
There is no saner advice than Mother Theresa’s, and when we are
overwhelmed with badness around, “The only weapon against bad
ideas is better ideas” Alfred Griswold.
The business of Terrorism
has been around for a long time, however in the last century, the Haganah
began its operations in the 20’s, then came the Irgunists and
after Stern died in a shoot-out with British police in 1942, the mantle
was picked up by future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, then
in November 1944, Lord Moyne, the British minister was assassinated
in Cairo by the stern Gang. Once, Israel was established in 1948, the
tables turned, the Palestinians were displaced and the PLO came into
being and started their acts of terrorizing the innocent. The 1971 Munich
Massacre was the ugliest one followed by the plane hijackings and other
activities. While IRA continued terrorizing in Northern part of UK,
the Tamil Tigers were wreaking havoc in Sri Lanka. By the way, we never
called them Christian, Hindu or Buddhist Terrorists, why do we call
Muslim Terrorists then? That is plain stupid and counter-productive,
if our goal is peaceful co-existence.
Now, the International terrorism
has become a daily affair. President Reagan made hero out of Osama,
instead of being grateful, the ugly traitor turned the guns against
us. He has done a lot of damage to us; The 1992 Bombing of WTC, the
Embassy in Kenya, the Cole and the 9/11. Regionally, the Beirut Bombardment
created Hezbollah in Lebanon and the political imbroglio generated Hamas
in Palestine. While other outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-a-Mohammad
got going in South Asia. Intoxicated with our might, we extended the
invitation “Bring on” to those al-Qaeda terrorists and they
are multiplying in Iraq now, aren’t they?
have pondered over our situation in Iraq and mused about telling this
to our President Years ago, “Conquer your foe by force, you increase
his enmity; conquer by love, and you will reap no after-sorrow.”
We completely violated the teaching of Jesus, Luke 6: 27, 28 –
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those
who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."
We did not believe in this wisdom and decided not to deal with the terrorists,
who would we deal with then? They are the ones who are disruptive. We
always have the last option available to us, but our first choice should
have been to engage them into a dialogue, we can certainly laugh about
it, but looking at the results we have achieved, the dialogue option
would have been more fruitful and less destructive. Our insolence in
not engaging them as a part of a broader approach has produced more
of them, than we can conquer.
We falsely believed, and
still do, that our gunpowder can subdue everything in the world. I hope
we realize that we have always won the right battles and the right wars,
and have certainly lost the wrong ones in Vietnam and other places.
We forget that dear God is mightier than our gunpowder. We have also
forgotten making distinctions between movements of national resistance
and groups given to apocalyptic-type agenda for destruction.
The wrong wars did not have
a clear objective, nor did we know where to point the gun. We were trigger
happy to destroy what we did not like. The way we have gone about in
dealing with Terrorism is pathetic. Shame on us, we were scared to speak
up until November 7th, 2006.
Thanks God, we are speaking
up now, and at least our mistakes are surfacing. “When we took
over Baghdad, we had plans to rebuild Iraq, but wasted out time for
over a year in preparing the blueprints, while we let the un-employed
and the youth rot with nothing to hope for,” Rajiv Chandrashekharan
from Washington post reported. Our strategy was wrong and planning was
helter skelter. It is easier to blame on a host of things on our failure
than to acknowledge our mistakes. That is the first thing we have to
do, to know where we were wrong, then figure it out how to fix them.
We can consider the following
approach; i) Announcing the troop withdrawal date gives a clarity to
all parties, ii) asking a non-party to the war like Indonesia, Malaysia,
India, Brazil or Japan to call on a summit of key Arab leaders including
the leaders, and opposition leaders of the three factions in Iraq, iii)
asking each one to prepare a wish list that would stop the bloodshed
iv) monthly withdrawal of our troops replaced by troops of their choice
to maintain law and order. This may dampen the Al-Qaeda presence.
Hope is the most important
ingredient of life, without which life is utterly meaningless. It is
the hope that determines destiny and fuels the drive towards it. A normal
youth aspires to go to school, get the education, fall in love, have
job, get married, have a house and raise children who would live a life
better than himself or herself. Most people learn to live and be content
with accomplishing any part of that elusive hope. Snatch all of it from
a human being, what is left to derive satisfaction? Have we thought
seriously and empathically about it?
It is wrong to assume that Muslims support terrorism. Why should they?
They are getting the shaft triply because of the terrorists; i) they
are blamed iii) their religion is maligned and iii) the world looks
at them maliciously. Muslims are as terrorized by the terrorists as
anyone else is. Heck, Muslims condemn terrorism three times as strong.
The media does not put the Muslim voice out; heck the Muslims are frustrated
with this situation. But condemn they do, more so than others. It is
just not Muslims, you will find that the Jews, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists
and others also condemn the atrocities committed in their names, but
their voices are drowned as well. The bullies on both sides continue
to reign. It has got to change, and the moderates need to speak up and
the media ought to oblige to give the space, even if it is not sensational.
Once we are committed to
a peaceful world of co-existence, we will start seeing the issues in
more focused way. Dalai Lama says, “Because we all share this
planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each
other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity”.
If we see the problems of the world as problems that need resolution
- then our approach will crystallize and start thinking of solutions.
Let’s start with the
war on Terror.
Osama Bin Laden and his gang
destroyed our symbol of freedom and prosperity on 9/11, we screamed,
“You people” implying Muslims. We also said, “Muslim
Terrorists” and a whole lot of other phrases to “Islamofascist”.
The right phrase would have been “Osama, you screwed up”.
Whose rears should we have
hauled? To the world, we looked like maniacs with a cocked gun running
amuck with no particular place to point it towards; anything that moved
got bombed out, including a wedding party. We were shooting everywhere,
and destroyed every thing in our reach. This is the wrong way to get
the terrorists; Osama is still on the loose.
If we can laser shoot the
tiny object 3000 miles away, we can get the six footer and his cronies.
We can laser bark at the right tree and quit barking at the universe.
We have excuses for our failure, and have sacrificed over 3000 of our
sons and daughters and a million plus Iraqis, and the latter simply
We could have done the right
thing, but we did not have the guts to do it. When people cannot face
things squarely, they go the route of “you people” and shoot
in darkness hoping we would shoot some at least, what a delusion! The
American people, generally caring and empathic, understand now that
we didn’t go to Iraq with pure and sincere motivations to help
them, rather with our own grandiose interest in mind, where the Iraqi
people would be guinea pigs. That’s why the support for the war
has disappeared so visibly. It is time to admit our mistakes and undo
those by disengaging from Iraq; they will probably not do as much of
damage as we have done
Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer, speaker and a pluralist
with the aptitude [you might like to use a different word] to find solutions.
He believes that if we can learn to accept and respect the God given
uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, conflicts fade and
solutions emerge. Mike can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com
and at the websites www.MikeGhouse.net and www.FoundationforPluralism.com
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