Tunnel vision

Read the first comment on this entry – the writer seems to think that the higher your academic qualifications, the more entitled you are to voice your opinion.
I might have thought he was one of the stodgier members of the Singaporean civil service, except that he calls terrorists freedom-haters. I don’t think it’s as straightforward as that. I think they want freedom themselves, and see the US as a source of oppression for their people.
And contrary to what many Americans think, the violence in the Middle East is not the product of sheer jealousy, as prosperous and democratic as America is. Instead, its roots are religious and cultural, and go way back – centuries, even a millennium or two – before the United States was founded.
An increasing number of journalists point out that the US is seen by many in the Middle East as a supporter of Israel, turning a blind eye to its territorial infringements in breach of UN resolutions. Yet, the breach of resolutions is one reason given by the US to justify the latest Iraqi ‘liberation’. To pro-war advocates who still feel that UN resolutions should be respected – wouldn’t this imply that other countries in breach of such resolutions should also be dealt with accordingly?
I am not anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim or against any particular race of people in this world. It is saddening however to see one race destroy another, be it the Nazis against Jews, the Hutus against the Tutsis (remember that one?) and the Israelis (military) versus the Palestinians (suicide bombers). Maybe it is human nature that when you yourself are maligned and abused, that when you become more powerful you return the favour to other people. Hate usually begets more hate, not love.
While in Saudi Arabia on a business trip, my mother and her entourage were entertained by some Saudi businessmen. They were polite, even urbane, and all were _educated_ overseas. However after several rounds of drink, they started to rant about America – and she was stunned to hear them recalling every single wrong that the US had inflicted on them and their brothers. It was a very deep-set resentment which I think many Americans – many of whom have not actually had the opportunity to live in another country and experience how America is perceived from another nation’s point of view – should bear in mind the next time they simplify it down to a case of ‘freedom-hating’.
Lastly, I am sorry to hear that both coalition, Iraqi troops and innocent civilians have been killed in the war so far. I am disappointed that some of you feel that the UN’s authority can be disregarded. Ironically it is powerless when it is needed most. But note that America sets the example for others to follow – and Turkey is taking advantage of that.
[ Update: Read what Albert Einsten himself had to say in a speech supporting the United Nations back in 1947. Link from Kottke. ]


  1. Salma

    If you think about it. Isreal stands to benefit from the whole Iraq attack. To say that America is attacking Iraq for the benefit of Israel is far fetched. If only things were this clear. But like you mentioned in an earlier entry, Osama was hardly mentioned when terrorists/911 was mentioned.Is it for certain thta Osama is behind those attacks?One wonders.America has become highly paranoid after 911.understandably so.
    These are hard times.For muslims.Its not small wonder for muslim sentiments like the current war being one “against” islam.

  2. vantan

    I think no one person or group can wholly be blamed for the turmoil going on in the world today. It is the result of centuries of political corruption, incompetence and selfish interests – at the sacrifice of peace and stability.
    However, in the immediacy of our lives it is easy to single out individuals and organisations behind a cause – especially if violence is used to grab our attention. The killing of innocent civilians – be they in Dublin, New York, Baghdad or Tel Aviv – is uncalled for. But as long as we adopt an ‘eye for an eye’ mentality, the conflict will never end.
    Lastly, I doubt if Israel will be a safer place after this war 🙁

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