War on terror renews cycle of violence

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 were atrocities of such an immense scale that they have left no lives untouched. Our deepest sympathies lie with the victims of the attacks and their families. Loss of innocent life is undeniably tragic and is never politically or religiously justifiable.

The fact of the matter, however, is that the cruelty and barbarism displayed in these attacks has not been remedied by a “war on terrorism.” The perpetrators of these crimes were killed in the attack, the mastermind is still at large, and while it has been repeatedly stated that al-Qaida has been severely weakened, it could hardly be said that terrorist actions against U.S. and Western targets have slackened. The source from which they emanate has merely shifted to other groups, which have formed and survived not just in spite of the war on terrorism but in certain cases because of it. This war has not brought about justice for the victims of the attacks. It has, and will continue to be, an ideological fan for the flames of hatred and destruction.

Despite the glossy image of an improved Afghanistan displayed by mainstream media, these improvements have been largely cosmetic. The people of Afghanistan still do not live within a democratic system. The situation of women, while marginally improved, is still abysmal, and even these meager gains are threatened by the imminent possibility of a return to chaos. The conflict in Afghanistan has also created its own set of victims, from those who suffered through starvation and malnutrition during the months when food and medical aid were cut off, to the numbers of civilian casualties at the hands of American military forces and their allies.

On the home front, we watch our fundamental constitutional rights slip away from us. First, there was the internment of hundreds, if not thousands, of “suspects” following Sept. 11 – the names of which were just recently released. The greatest crimes perpetrated by all but a tiny fraction of these people were immigration violations. This was followed by the FBI raids on the Somali communities, including one less than a block from our University. Not to mention the Patriot Act and Operation TIPS, both of which constitute grave encroachments on personal privacy and freedom.

As much as we grieve for victims of Sept. 11 and their families, there is a continuing sense of dismay at the manner in which their tragedies have been dealt with. The pleas for a just, peaceful and internationally sanctioned resolution, which came from many families of the victims, have remained unheard and unanswered by our government. Many of these people, the ones who have truly suffered from this crime against humanity, will tell us that their grief is not a call for war but for an end to this cycle of violence. This war has not made anyone safer. This war has not brought about justice for the victims of the attacks.

Despite these sobering facts, we do envision hope. If we closely examine the factors which brew war and terror, we can see what is necessary to bring them to an end. A first step must be to stop our weakly warranted attacks on other countries, including continued operations in Afghanistan and incursions into Iraq. We also must build a strong foreign policy that represents the needs of people, not of dictators or our exploitative economic policy, so that the impoverished conditions under which terrorists gain their inspiration and influence will not be nearly as prevalent.

Everything that has happened comes down to one fundamental issue: This cannot go on. This madness of humanity to wage war, to butcher and to kill, to exploit everything and everyone around it cannot be sustained, MUST not be sustained. War is not heroic. War is not fun or exciting or an acceptable distraction of the American people served to us by a corrupt administration embroiled in corporate scandal. We will not stand by and become casualties of the callousness of others. We refuse to grant our government the right to destroy and to kill. There is no right to instill fear in us. There is no right of war.

On this sad anniversary, may we mourn all victims of violence and may we search for truly effective ways to prevent more lives from being lost.

Emily Cox, Nathan Mittelstaedt, Katya Jenson, Jennie Eisert and Saroj Sharma are members of Students Against War, a University student group. Send comments to [email protected].