Dealing with ‘Terror’

Why has US Foreign Policy an intervention bias? The patriot act ushered in a new era of foreign policy for the US, as it is now illegal for any American citizen to interact with any group labeled as ‘terrorist,’ as this might lead to being accused of collaboration etc. What about peacemakers hoping to create avenues for dialogue? If conflict erupts in foreign nations, what about NGOs, anthropologists, or individual actors who are familiar with the region or have experience working with actors on either side of the conflict? What this means is that the US limits its creative problem solving options as we have cut off all means for meaningful dialogue.  War and military solutions have usurped the place of dialogue.  If we have no means for dialogue how do we expect anything to change? Not even allowing peacebuilders or academics to forge pathways for peace?! What are the authors of this patriot act so afraid of, what are they thinking? Reframe this situation as a family dialogue and imagine your mother said that no one could talk to your older brother because he was deemed a trouble-maker, and the only way to deal with him would be through ignoring him or violence – how do you think the situation would play out? Not to good for family relations; and not too englightened for international relations either.

Thus, in this post-patriot act situation, asking the US for advice how to fight terrorists is like asking a used car salesman about buying cars – the intent to sell the product trumps all else.  Fighting terror has become the business. What happened to leaving a space for critical debate about alternative solutions? We call ourselves the most advanced human society, but yet we still resort to these primitive measures of trying to destroy each other.  Haven’t we come yet to realizing we need to move beyond the naïve and unexamined pitting of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’? Like the war on drugs that has only increased since its inception, isn’t it ironic how the war on terror has only created more terror?  The ongoing search of the US (hammer) continues to find more terror (nails). If we seek the negative, we will always find ‘it.’   What if we turned policy around and actually tried to look for what we want to see vs. the opposite?  “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other,” said Mother Teresa. Time to remember our roots.  We belong to each other, and we should be actively working towards creating peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, but the awakened understanding of our interdependent humanity.


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