War On Terrorism Begins With U.S.A.

To the Editors:

This letter is addressed to the authors who advocated for war in last week’s letters to the Review. You want to erradicate terrorism in the world, but it lies within your own borders, too. McVeigh was American, did you start a war on America? He who gunned down those children in the school was a classmate, did you wage war on classmates?
You claim the Taliban holds its population hostage, while in your own country black American males are more likely to be incarcerated than their African counterparts were in South Africa under apartheid.
You cry freedom and democracy, freedom and democracy, while your government continues to train assassins in the School of the Americas, and has in recent history installed military dictators over democratically elected governments in Latin American countries such as Chile, Bolivia and Guatemala, among others.
You target nations harbouring “terrorists” as enemies, and forget that the U.S. military aid package to Colombian security forces reach 1.3 billion dollars. These security forces have been repeatedly charged with human rights violations in a country where at least 35,000 non-combatants have disappeared or been murdered since 1987. It is known that they coordinate operations with paramilitary forces, which were recently placed on the American government’s blacklist of terrorist networks. Do you dare tell a displaced Colombian citizen that this isn’t terror?
My intention is not to offend you. These are not theories, or opinions, merely facts. Well-documented facts of history, and of the present day. It is important to remember and refer to them because they show us that terror isn’t only the Taliban, or bin Laden. Many Americans, with the most powerful military in history, give themselves the privilege of defining what terrorism is for the rest of the world. But Sept. 11 is terror that happens in very different ways, in different time frames, in many nations around the globe, including my own.
The realistic solutions (since one of you cared to ask for one), from the point of view of actions that this nation can take, lie only partly in the CIA, FBI and the military. Much more lies in our long term foreign and domestic policy revisions. In our schools and prisons, factories and parks, homes and communities. In our relationships among ourselves, with our environment and with other nations. This may take hundreds of years, but it takes that long to work through the conflicts we face. These conflicts have been thousands of years in the making. No amount of stealth fighters, laser-guided bombs, long-range cruise missiles, intelligence agents or highly trained special-ops forces will ever solve such deep-rooted conflicts. It is childish of any government, or any human being for that matter, to declare Infinite Justice.
You want to insist on war, at the cost of more innocent deaths? Fine, I don’t see how that will be avoided at this point. I will do my part to stop it, as will many others. But please, do address the underlying issues. As mobilization for war continues, I challenge you, as a responsible citizen and human being, to look within your own nation and community, and make an honest effort to eradicate the terror that surrounds you.

–Nicolas Stahelin
College junior

October 5
October 12

site designed and maintained by jon macdonald and ben alschuler :::