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Letter to NZ Herald
14 September 2001
I find it amazing that recent correspondents to you newspaper can believe that increasing our defence forces and defence spending is going to protect us from the sort of terrible tragedy that has just occurred in the United States. That country has probably the largest defence force in the world but that has not protected them from attack.
There is an article in the Herald of 14 September about the Bush leadership in which the writer points out that at the time of crisis the President was being flown around the country and not standing with the people and directing operations. The President had himself streamlined the administrative structures but there was little trace of this when the need arose. As the article points out the attack should also serve as a lesson to governments everywhere -there are disasters so far beyond comprehension that they cannot be prepared for.
That is one lesson that can be learnt. Another, I believe, is to ask why the United States should have been attacked in such a devastating way, and how a re-occurrence can be prevented. The best hope for a de-escalation of this sort of terrorism is to try and understand the possible reasons why it is happening. One reason is that there are many people in many countries of the world who have been affected by the US policy of bombing rather than negotiation. China, Cambodia, Korea, Guatemala, Congo, Peru, Indonesia, Cuba, Vietnam, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan among them. Former President Jimmy Carter stated "We have only to go to Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan to witness first hand the intense hatred among many people for the United States, because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers..as a result we have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitates the taking of hostages and terrorist attacks"
If we sincerely want a more peaceful and secure world, those countries and corporations which hold the power need to find a better way of enabling us all to live together on this planet. It is not only the bombing that causes resentment, it is also the economic control, another form of violence, that is exerted on the many by the few. It does not seem to matter how the message is given about this by the all those who are expressing concern and asking for change, no notice seems to be taken.
The United States with the support of the member states of the United Nations should have the courage to find ways to break the cycle of violence and retribution and to help achieve a more equitable sharing of the worlds resources. Otherwise I fear that the violence will be even more devastating. Missile Defence Systems and bombing are not the way to go.