Haiti and the 'Global War on Terror'
Over two weeks after a boyish looking Nigerian, trained in Yemen, attempted to blow up an airliner with his underwear, the failed terrorist attempt was only driven from the top of the news in the United States by the flattening of Haiti.
Reality has a way of intruding. As of this writing, the scale of the devastation in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is not known; some estimates place deaths in the hundreds of thousands. It boggles the mind and staggers the heart.
To my surprise, over 50,000 US citizens live in Haiti. But so far, to their credit, the US media, either evincing an exception that proves the rule of focusing on Americans above all others, or indicating the beginning of a genuine world-view in America, has told the story in terms of the perennially battered Haitian people.
The contrast could not be more painful. The wealthiest people in the world insist on complete security in a fabricated 'war against global terror,' while millions of people living just beyond their shores have no security whatsoever, and thousands are crushed by structures without building codes, and stranded by infrastructure that isn't worthy of the name.
An earthquake of less magnitude than the one that just hit Haiti, the Loma Prieta quake in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989, killed 65 people. I was living at the epicenter of the 7.1 shaker at the time, and though the apartment building rolled like a ship on high seas for an interminable half minute, all it did was empty the refrigerator and cupboards of their contents, and knock me and the bookshelves to the floor.
The initial ground and aerial scenes from Haiti are almost too much to watch. Mile after mile of pancaked buildings, where untold numbers of people still alive in the rubble writhe in pain and agony next to the dead bodies of family members, co-workers, and friends.
How can we go back to the sickeningly neurotic 'war on terror' after this? I didn't think it was possible for the alternate reality of America's world war with a disparate band of terrorists to be sillier than it became with the illustrious shoe bomber, who also failed to ignite his absurd, if lethal, device. But packing explosives into a boy's underwear (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is 23, but he's physically and emotionally still a boy), and then obsessing over the near miss for two weeks takes the cake.
Now we have another miserably poor country, Yemen, a desert backwater on the Arabian Peninsula, to add to the list of states the United States is on the verge of invading in this insane 'war.' Abdulmutallab told interrogators that there were 20 more young men like him being trained in Yemen. Twenty confused boys with underwear bombs, and the Republicans whine so loudly that President Obama has to repeatedly assure the nation that he is indeed the Father of the Homeland in Charge of the Situation.
America's infamous former vice-president, Dick Cheney, waded into the Christmas terrorist attack that wasn't by saying, "Obama seems to think if he gets rid of the words 'war on terror,' we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe.''
Some days later, President Obama took the bait, saying, again and again, "we are at war."
There are immense challenges facing the global society. Some of the most pressing problems have been brought to the fore by the man-made disaster of Haiti compounded by the devastating temblor that just occurred there. As world citizens, we cannot begin to redress the grotesque disparity between Haiti and California as long as we think first in terms of our own nations, and are manipulated by fear.
The 'war on terror' is about the uses of fear, both by Al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers, and America and its 'allies'. The complicity of the news media in this program of fear is not conspiratorial, but financial. It's about ratings, which means money.
As more and more Americans turn off their tubes, the 'reporting' is getting more and more shrill. But it's all just filler until reality rears its head.
'The Islamic enemy' is small and fragmented in number. Al-Qaeda has not been able to mount anything like the attacks of 9.11 in the eight years since twenty-minus-one insane boy-men with box cutters brought down the World Trade Towers. But a few thousand hard-core al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan have succeeded, with the US government's help, in raising their stature to that of a superpower.
The purpose of terrorism is, obviously, to inspire fear in a populace in order to impose an agenda. From a deeper psychological and metaphysical perspective, al-Qaeda and the American government are therefore working together. They have different ends, but are using the same means- the exploitation and manipulation of irrational fear.
If the underwear bomber incident happened tomorrow, the earthquake in Haiti would be shoved from the headlines, even if a million died there. And if another Abdulmutallab were to bring down a US airliner, the cries and moans of Haiti wouldn't even be heard. Let's get our priorities straight.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years.
Topics: Barack Obama, Conflicts And War, Haiti, United States Of America, Yemen Channel: Opinion