War On Terrorism Are We Guilty Ourselves?
What is Terrorism?
There are many different interpretations of the word 'terrorism' if you look it up. In this day of war and more war, it is becoming harder and harder to define. On recently viewing a video on YouTube by Michael Prysner who is part of the movement called Iraq Veterans Against The War, I have to say I'm starting to reevaluate this term myself.
According to wikipedia.com, one definition of terrorism refers to violent acts intended to create fear, perpetrated by an ideological goal and deliberately targeting or disregarding the safety of non-combatants (civilians). The definition includes acts of unlawful violence and war.
Watching history unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan, I've begun to ask myself if we are not perpetrating terrorism ourselves in these countries - the very act that we are supposedly there to stamp out and the very act that our government claims to be eradicating. I can see why Mike Prysner said he felt like a terrorist.
Who is the Enemy?
Mike Prysner is part of the movement called IVAW and while I do not claim to be a political analyst or understand the 'economy' of war, listening to his video on Youtube really makes me wonder what we are doing as a nation. When will this end?
As we seem to spread our military tentacles into more and more countries and submerge ourselves in occupations of more and more countries, our own people are being left behind. The quote on the video is that we are spending $450 million a day on this war, which is really an occupation of other countries. How can we continue to afford this while our own people go without jobs, without health care, without homes?
He points out that he feels like a terrorist and I can empathize with his feelings. The men and women who serve in our military are pawns in a deadly game. They go where and when at our government's behest and expose themselves to situations unimaginable. They must deal with fear and tragedy on a daily basis all in the name of our freedom. My question is though - Is this the only way we can exist as a nation? Is this the only revenue that our government can generate? One that is built on the deaths of our own men and women and one that is built on the deaths of other nations and their people.
I cringe at the thought that we are indeed thought of as Ugly Americans. There can be nothing positive from wars that beat other races into the ground. There can be nothing positive from a situation that is really based on 'payback's a bitch'. Because we suffered terrorism in our own country, how are we justified in going into other countries and destroying civilians, destroying their heritage, making them hate us? If they did not hate us 'enough' already, in my humble opinion, they will hate us even more and the revenge cycle will continue.
We owe our military men and women so very much and we can never repay them for their sacrifices. I do believe, however, that we should listen to them and we should at least give credence to their claims. We should not label them as anti-war demonstrators or consider them any less patriotic for their candor. They have 'been there and done that' and I believe we owe it to them to listen. They after all are the only people in a position to tell us what war is truly like and what these wars and occupations are doing to these countries we claim to be saving.
I applaud the support that Americans give to our troops - sadly that was missing when the troops came home from Vietnam. However, I think we can do more. I think we can stop turning our heads and ignoring what is going on. I think we can start to ask questions and make demands about why we are jumping from one country into another and another with our brave men and women leading the way and why this is escalating rather than ending.
What is needed is more involvement and less passive ignorance. 'What we don't know can't hurt us' is developing into a global trend and I believe that needs to stop. We are all like ostriches burying our head in the sand when in fact, we are all accountable if we turn a blind eye to injustice, if we as individuals do not question what our government is doing in our name. I don't want to be a terrorist by default. I don't want anyone else's blood on my hands just because I am an American.
James Madison, our 4th president, is quoted at the end of this video as saying the following: 'If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy....the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad'.
I have to believe that as a nation, we need to start focusing on what is right here under our noses and fix that before we continue to try and tell others around the world how to live. That old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones somehow seems to fit. Telling ourselves as well that freedom comes with a price and that price is human suffering in other countries as some of us grow richer and others die personifies the idea of sacrificing many for the benefit of a few.
Lastly, America was built on equality for all and I think it is high time as Americans we thought about that kernel of wisdom and examined what our country is doing in these other lands. To me, many of our actions could be construed as racism and terrorism to these people. How can we live with that if we continue to perpetuate the exact thing we say we stand against?
In this plummeting economy, what amazes me most is that our government officials continue to flourish and vote themselves raises, benefits, etc. that none of us have. We are all scraping by trying to make sense of an economy totally out of control in a downward spiral while our government officials are billionaires. Meanwhile, they have no qualms at sending innocent men and women overseas to die on battlefields that have nothing to do with them. The idea of fighting for freedom is ambiguous in this sense to me. It doesn't make sense!
Freedom should not come at the price of other races. Freedom should not come at the price of innocent women and children in foreign countries who have done nothing save be born there. They cannot escape, they have no choices, and our men and women have no choices either except to follow orders and kill or be killed. Would we like to view our children's deaths as part of 'collateral damage' if the shoe were on the other foot?
This so reminds me of the Vietnam era that it is frightening. We stood by and watched people being massacred, the Vietnamese and our soldiers as we sat around our dinner tables. If that is the price of 'freedom' I think something is wrong. When we have to go tramping into other countries around the world and set up bases from which to control these other countries, what is this saying? We are superior and we will rule. In my humble opinion, this is a dangerous position to be putting ourselves in because when other peoples or races have nothing to lose, we will be their first target and as they have shown over and over, they are not afraid to die in killing our people.
How many more men and women can we send into harm's way before we all shout 'enough'? Our government officials do not have to face the enemy because they send our young and our brave to do it for them. I think that is the worst tragedy - people who never will get to realize their dreams or live out their lives, their lives sacrificed on the altar of putting money in politicians' pockets. How can these lives be justifiably lost?
- If all of this 'terrorism' around the world was such a threat, why are our politicians not tightening their belts and trying to turn things around in this country to protect our future?
- Why are there so many rich politicians in our country that are profiting from all of these overseas venues all linked to war and occupation?
- Why is our government not concentrating their efforts on rebuilding our economy and finding jobs for our own people?
- Why are we not creating 'green jobs' or concentrating on ways not to use foreign resources?
I believe it is because there is too much money to be made from these wars and these occupations of other nations; there are too many profits to be made from continuing the bloodshed.
In the meantime, I feel the Iraq War soldiers' pain; I imagine I would feel the same way. Prysner said he felt like a terrorist because of the things he was required to do to innocent people and how he was forced to mistreat them, all in the name of freedom, a freedom those people did not seem to gain. Freedom fighters do not hurt other people to make them free. Freedom fighters do not beat other people into the ground to show them a 'better way'. I believe that in taking a stand, these men and women deserve at least our attention and an ear.
Speech By Mike Prysner
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