Who should we wage a war against?
By Ali Khalili
November 8, 2001
The "War Against Terrorism" must seem quite justified to many.
Afterall, America was attacked right at its heart and the theory withholds
that you have a right to self-defence. And I am sure, there are quite a
few who could tell you the reasons and the roots of the attack on America
and that America was merely ripping the seeds it sowed for so long.
And if we go back, there is maybe a way to justify Iraq's aggression
against Iran and Iran's prolongation of a futile war, if you look through
the eyes of either side. And I am sure, there must have been some conviction
in the hearts of the soldiers who fought the World War II or those who fought
the trench warfares of first war .
And maybe, the Arab invaders of Iran felt righteous about their cause
when they nearly wiped out the whole Persian Empire. And I am sure, had
we had the opportunity to get better news services, there was a way to reason
why Iran sent an army of forty odd nations to conquire Athens or why Nader
Shah made a rendez-vous attack on India and raped it of its riches and returned.
But at the end of the day, no matter which side we are on, no matter
how righteous we feel about our cause to wage war on another nation, another
people, or another group, whether they are the Americans, the Afghans, the
Christians, the Jews, the Muslims or whoever, we are not doing anything
more than beating a dead horse... a horse that has been beaten to death
more than just once.
The pundits would remember that World War I was supposed to be the war
to end all war. But isn't it ironic that after thousands of years, humanity
was thinking that a war and a bloody one in that, would end all wars? And
isn't it ironic that this is still our trend of thought?
Today, one group calls for a Islamic Jihad and the other is launching
a "war on terrorism". Both feel justified and victimized and argue
that the only way to treat their ill, is by running airplanes full of innocent
people into towers or by dropping bombs on the evil forces of Taliban. But
are we going to get anywhere from here? Is there any point to what we do?
I am sure that everyone in the history of mankind, felt an urgency, and
a need to impose their thoughts.
And look how far we have come? We are still fighting wars against one
another. We are still killing one another, in any name, for any cause. But
is the enemy really America or Osama Bin Laden? Are the Jews the culprits
of our pain? Are the Arabs these terrorist-minded people that bear the blame
for everything? Wasn't there pain and misery, before all these were even
relevant, for centuries after centuries?
Weren't the Arabs who feel victimized today, the same people who conquired
every piece of land from Afghanistan to Spain and showed no pity towards
their captivated Iranians? Or weren't the Iranians the same people who at
every opportune moment, ventured to other territories for a piece of land?
Or aren't the Jews, who are now in the giving end of things, the same people
who were living under Hitler and were at the receving end of things five
decades ago? Weren't the Romans, the Brits, the Mongols, the Russians, the
Japanese and the French, some of the most brutal conquirers ever?
So, who is to blame? who should we wage a war against? How long can we
blame America or Jews or muslims or this and that for? How many more wars
do we need to wage? How many enemies do we need to create? Will the war
against Taliban, be the war to end all wars? Will terror end, in all of
its forms after this day for everyone? Or would the destruction of America
at all cost, save our world and make life better?
When after September 11th, Colin Powell said that the "enemy is
within us", he was quite right. Except, for he didn't mean what I mean.
Humanbeings have fought one another for thousands of years, quite often
for causes that were at the time in the eyes of some justified. We have
looked to blame our miseries on others... sometimes justified and sometimes
nothing more than a way of taking the blame away from ourselves.
We have divided our world , by countless boundaries, whether in the form
of actual national borders that we kill and die for and have no idea who
has drawn them or the flags we so passionately wave but have no idea where
they actually come from or the religions who again we trust are coming from
these eternally righteous sources but can never be sure of or our pigmentation
and biology which quite often have no control over.
Yes, the enemy is within. The enemy is within us, all of us and if there
is one war worth fighting, is the war against all wars, the war within.
Centuries have gone by and still, very few people, if any at all, can truly
claim that they have managed to win this one, because hate is always easier
than love, because blaming others is always easier than forgiving and moving
on, because generalizing is always so much easier, because we are always
the right one, the good one or at least the better one.
It is ironic, because winning this war needs no fancy war tools, no suicide
bombers, no massive armies marching onwards towards the enemy and yet, we
are still fighting, everyday, more than five billion battles, in every corner
of the world. And more often than not, the battle is lost, because we choose
to hate this person for their color, religion, ethnicity, or whatever that
happens that differentiates them from us.
It's a tough war to fight... it's a tough war to win, as history could
tell you. So many other exterior wars have come and gone, but this one,
we still must fight... everyone of us, everyday, every waking hour and everywhere.
And whether we will have a better world tommorow will not depend on the
small words of a few self-centered politicians and hatemonging warriors,
who would do almost anything to guarantee an election or make sure that
their philosophy prevails.
The war against terrorism as Geroge W likes to call it or the war between
Muslims and America as Osama likes to call it, will come and go. Some will
lose their lives along the path and some will feel more pain, misery and
fear. But at the end of the day, it will be upto us, to fight the real fight;
to leave our comfort zones; to break the barriers; to push aside everything
that we were told was sacred enough to justify drawing lines between us
and others; to do our best to remove everything that makes our world, a
world of "us" and "them". And to forgive and forget,
when taking these steps feels a little bit too hard early on.
It may sound like a cliche... too easy to say and too hard for the hungary
or disposed. It definitely does not sound very glamerous. We all want to
be the one who will be remembered for ever, the freedom fighter, the liberator,
the icon. But we have had quite a few of those in history and obviously,
they were not the answer.
A few years ago, I received an annual letter from my Member of Parliament
for end of year reviews. At the end of it, there was a line that I will
always remember : "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with
me." Indeed, the problems of our world could only be fixed, if the
beast inside can be tamed and defeated.