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Beyond economic interests
America has a golden oppurtunity of implementing its true values of human rights and democracy in the Middle East

September 12, 2002
The Iranian

A year after 9/11, the world and the U.S. are celebrating this extremely sad anniversary. The images of the two airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers still seem unreal to me, as if directly coming out of a bad disaster film.

I discovered the images quite by chance on French television while turning on my TV set to watch the afternoon programs. My reaction was one of shear astonishment. I hardly cried or felt any emotion. It just seemed I was not living in a real world or that I had just woken up from a bad dream.

My first reaction was to send an email to the to announce what had happened. In parallel, the WTC attacks had happened shortly after the assassination of General Shah Massoud, the Afghan hero, the "Lion of Pashtun" who had left Paris a few days before after what appeared as a dissapointing diplomatic visit.

My first reaction was, "I just hope it's not us Iranians who have done this horrible thing." The souveniers of the American hostage crisis were still vivid in my memory and I couldn't think of a possible link between those who commited this horrible act and that of the leaders of the Islamic Regime. Fortunately no direct responsability of Iran was proven.

Now a year later, an obscure Osama bin Laden and a certain Mullah Omar have been accused of being directly responsible for the attacks and the US has freed Afghanistan from the Taliban regime. Yet both bin Laden and the Omar are still running free somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan or the neighbouring countries.

When the festivities of the Millennium wher over, people of the world certainly all wished and prayed for a more peaceful century. The previous one had carried its share of hate, war, revolution and injustice -- along with great human achievements. Why not hope for a more harmonious future in a world free from a nuclear race and ideological warfare?

The Cold War is over, and despite their shortcomings, the super powers of our time are democratic countries, the strongest being the United States of America.

The World Trade Center was what New York had offered the world as one of the greatest architectural achievements of the last quarter of the 20th century -- a building which not even King Kong was able to breakdown with his heavy weight in the 1976 version of the film with Beau Bridges and Jessica Lange.

Certainly after the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building, the WTC was standing proud and tall, reaching for the skies as a testimony to the American Dream.

Yet as much as America was seen as the Land of Freedom and Democracyafter World War II, today it is also accused of and envied by most third world countries as an imperialistic nation. A country whose foreign policy only benefited dictators or despots.

As true or false this conception may be, one can only condemn what happened a year ago in the largest cosmopolitan city in the world. As its name suggested, people of all nationalities were killed and this crime has joined the long list of crimes against humanity.

The millennium has once again dissapointed all those who believed humanity can change for the better. The consenquences of this truly inhuman act will resound for decades to come. It has already been responsible for the war in Afghanistan and may be responsible for finishing off Sadam Hussein.

Whether this will have positive consenquences in the Middle East, it is still too early to say. One thing is sure and that is that the "War on Terror" does not only concern America and the Free World but also any country which faces terrorism.

America has certainly payed a heavy price and probably learned through this worst terrorist attack on its territory, that it cannot just stand aside and look at the miseries of the world through its media. America cannot continue to carry on as if it is not concerned about the future.

A propaganda war carried out by CNN is not enough to solve the deep problems in Third World countries. A more long lasting and constructive solution must be found to deal with interracial and religious conflicts, power struggles between dictatorial regimes, poverty, the over galloping demography and the lack of human rights.

In the meantime, terrorists should not cry victory so soon. They are the true losers. In wanting to defend their version of Islam, they have in reality contributed in dooming their cause for good. They proved that they don't give the slightest value to human lives. Their heart is made of stone and they will never be considered as heroes of any nobel cause, let alone freedom.

The war in Afghanistan and, and the one that may be happening in Iraq in the near future, is far from being won. I was personally happy to see that finally America interfered in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban and install Hamid Karzai in power. The first images that struck me was young Afghans shaving and crying their joy on the departure of the Taliban.

The recent assassination attempts on Karzai and his ministers prove that the battle is far from being won. It should be a test for America as well as the Free World that it is not enough to oust terrorists as individuals but also that they must contribute in irradicating the roots of terrorism in the region.

I am in favor of an eventual attack on Iraq to oust Saddam, only if it means that America and Western forces will stay in the region and work on establishing a viable democracy. The same must be continued in Afghanistan.

Since September 11th, the world has entered a truly unpredictable era. If we want a democratic Middle East, both Iraq and Afghanistan can provide the best laboratories for a successful implementation. Japan and Germany were far from democratic and yet thanks to the Marshall Plan and American insistance, they become truly democratic. The establishment of Democracy needs planning and determination.

Leaving Afghanistan, a country totally devastated by 23 years of internal and external warfare would be a huge mistake. Attacking Iraq only to oust Saddam Hussein without the intention of implementing (be it by force) a democratic system would also be an error.

America has a golden oppurtunity of implementing in the region its true values of human rights and democracy beyond its economic interests. By doing so it would certainly gain in respectability and popularity among the people of the Middle East, who will no longer see America as a potential foe, but as a trustworthy and friendly partner and promoter of basic rights in the region.

It is by being true to the values of its founding fathers that America will win the battle against terrorism. It is by referring to Abraham Lincoln's political legacy of "a government of the people, by the people and for the people" that George W. Bush and his Administration will be able to breach the walls that have circled political life in the Middle East for centuries.

A modern Marshall Plan can be implemented, for example, based on a ten-year presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever the Arab World or the neighbouring theocracy in Iran may say or do, their people will come to the conclusion that their own systems must evolve towards a democracy.

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Darius Kadivar

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