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Archive for September, 2001

first “what the fuck!” expirience of the year.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2001

ok, so I have finally gotten settled in here at City… Dorms suck but whats new…?

Anyway, as the title of this post says, I had my first “what the fuck!” experience today. I was on my way out of the building to run some errands. I got into the elevator and pressed the button for the lobby (I am on the sixth floor), and down I went. The elevator stopped at another floor on the way down and the doors opened. A girl lugging a rather large, and rather empty by the sound of it suitcase clambered in.

“Hello, you a freshman too?” she asked.
“No, exchange student actually, in my last year.” I answered.
“Oh. What university you from?”
“George Mason, but the program is through Syra…”
“Oh, right, your Brian?”
“Yes…”
“Brendan told me about you, I was at the IMO.”
“Oh.”

This planet is too small, I’m going to Jupiter!

on a plane…

Sunday, September 23rd, 2001

[I wrote this while I was on my way to England]

At the moment I am thirty seven thousand feet in the air over Halifax, Nova Scotia going 630 miles an hour, one and a half hours into my six and a half hour flight to England. I have not had a chance to post in my journal in a few days, because I was very busy packing, unpacking and repacking my luggage. It amazing how much room a year?s supply of life takes up. I look at what I am taking and I don’t think I have too much, then I try to pack it and I find myself jumping up and down atop both of my suite cases.

Anyway, I wanted to post my thoughts on President Bush’s speech to the country Thursday night. My main thought on the speech was that the speech was too inflammatory and accusative. President Bush spent a significant portion of the speech vilifying the Taliban. Describing the religious laws imposed by a theocracy as oppressive and unjust does not seem to me to be the best way to encourage a diplomatic solution to the current situation. The Taliban have not bowed to the US demands to turn over Osama bin Laden, and by all appearances will not. I agree with the President saying that if they are not with us they are with the terrorist and therefore against us, but I do not think he should have go so far as to vilify them. This vilification of the Taliban seams to suggest that we are out to end their way of life; something that the President stated was not the case.

The one point of the speech that really angered me was the demand that the aid workers be set free. I see no connection between the terrorist acts and the aid workers. These eight people went to Afghanistan voluntarily and then broke the law. While we may not agree that apostatizing is an offense, the Taliban are a religious theocracy, and under their laws it is an offense, one that is punishable by death. The aid workers broke the law and should be held accountable. I do not believe they should be put to death but I am part of a different culture, and the Taliban control these peoples fate. There is legal precedence for the Taliban conviction and punishing these people. Anytime one travels to a foreign country one is subject to the laws of that country, and ignorance or a different way of life is no deference. Many of us remember the case of Michael Fay (sp?) Who was convicted of vandalism in Singapore. His punishment under the Singaporean laws was caning, and thought we in the US would define this as cruel and unusual we have no say in the matter because Fay broke the law and was convicted, there for subject to punishment. In the end he was caned and sent back to the US with a sore ass. I see no difference here, the Taliban have every right to punish people under their rule who break the law. The aid workers pleaded guilty to apostatizing and can only await their punishment.

It seems to me that now there is no chance that these eight people will ever be heard from again. By telling the Taliban to give them up, we are saying to the Taliban that they are not sovereign, (they did come to power in a coup, but since they control 95% of the country they have the power in Afghanistan. And remember the American government came to power in a coup. Who are we to say, that they are illegitimate?) We have guaranteed a sentence of death for the aid workers. I wonder if this was not calculated on the part of the government, if people who we, as Americans, see as innocent are put to death by a foreign government, many of who’s practices we do not agree with and who harbors the terrorist who committed the acts of September 11, 2001, the people of the US will, for the most part feel justified in declaring war on the people of Afghanistan, not just terrorism, because now we have made them one and the same.

war?

Friday, September 14th, 2001

I do not think that the term ‘War’ should be applied to the coming offensive against terrorism that the US government making plans for. In war one has a common enemy. If we approach the problem of terrorism like we approached the drug problem in the 1980’s we will again find ourselves in a war with no real battles, no victories and no chance for success, only casualties.

I think that while there is a common cause and a feeling of unity among most of the countries of the world we should seek to set a new international precedent. The United States should not take one the responsibility of riding the world of terrorism through a war of vengeance. This is a situation where the workings of a small number of people and countries are acting against other countries, a situation for which one organization needs to step up and perform the tasks for which it was meant. The US should not lead a war against terrorism, the United Nations should enforce it’s jurisdiction. The United Nations was designed to deal with international problems, and acts of systematic violence by citizens or nationals of one country against the people and territory of another sovereign country are international acts.

Here is a chance to set a true international precedent for the UN. Now while most of the member countries agree on a problem, the United Nations should come together to form a unified stance against international terrorism. While civil unrest and violence within the borders of a country by citizens of that country (rebellion & revolution) is something outside the jurisdiction of the UN (unless the people and sovereignty of another country is threatened) true international terrorism is outside the jurisdiction of any one country and the only organization which is in a position to deal with a problem like this is the United Nations.

Up till now the United Nations has been more of a policing agency over civil wars. While I agree that when a civil war threatens the lives of people in many countries the world should intervene, I think that a country should be allowed to deal with most of it’s own internal strife (not to say that there are not situations where the international community should not step in, things like systematic human rights violations, or genocide, et cetera.) Now is where the UN should take a more proactive roll in the world, instead of ‘peace keepers’ a military task force under the flag and control of the UN could be used to hunt down and eliminate (through arrests or violence if needed) international terrorist.

where to now…

Thursday, September 13th, 2001

Now that the initial shock of Tuesdays events have passed, we must ask ourselves what to do now. The outpouring of support around the world has been amazing. Stories of the unity and desire to help among Americans who would not normally give each other the time of day are encouraging. In Russia, people gathered outside the American Embassy with candles to show their sorrow and support for America. Many of the leaders of the world have cried out and placed their support behind America. I admire the leaders of America, who have not taken any rash action. Many bigoted and angry people in America have cried out for all out war on Afghanistan, even before the identities or nationalities of the perpetrators of this act where known. The short term solution to terrorism may well be a military one, but in the end, only education and understanding will put a stop to terrorism which depends on misunderstanding and misinformation to survive.

A good friend of mine is from Afghanistan, and she spent the past two days holed up in her house because of the uneducated bigots who attacked ethnic Arabs in the aftermath of the tragedy. Along a road in Northern Virginia where a mosque is to be built to serve the ever growing number of Muslims who live here (Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world!) a billboard marking the site was marred by graffiti Wednesday morning, saying “Fuck you!” The individual, or individuals who wrote that have shown themselves to be no better than those who fan the flame of hate in the hearts of the terrorist who hijacked the planes Tuesday. America is supposed to be better than that. These people came to America to live because they wanted to be a part of it.

It is unfortunate that when we think of terrorist we think of an Arabian man with a turban on his head and a flaming Molotov in his hand screaming about America, the ‘Great Satan.’ It is unfortunate because we identify this man as being a Muslim, and nothing else. Terrorism is not so one sided. For years catholics and protestant alike have been blowing each other up in Ireland and England over a 400 year old dispute. Timothy McVeigh was a corn feed white American, and till Tuesday he was the most successful terrorist in American history. The reason many Arabs in the middle east do not like America is not religious it is political, they believe it is wrong of us to support Israel. The Muslim faith expressly forbids violence against the young, the old, women, and the infirmed; against any innocents. Terrorism is a few misguided people of all religions and all nationalities, it is not the product of any one society, religious of otherwise, and hate and violence will only make it worse.

the meaning of the national antham

Wednesday, September 12th, 2001

A friend of mine at work said today that on his way home yesterday he heard the Star Spangled Banner on the radio. He said that for the first time he understood it on an emotional level. For the first time he understood what it means to be be an American. He said he cried.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?