|Haimo L. Handl
Questions of truth, trust, objectivity and courage concerning war
Recently I got involved in a discussion about the danger of the Islamists towards and within the Western World. My arguments of caution about disproportional projections and imaginations which are not accidental but follow a concerted strategy were dismissed. Instead the picture of infiltration and immediate danger was displayed. This impression of being endangered was fostered by the obvious difficulty to distinguish the "real enemy" from the possible one. Not all Arabs or Arab looking persons are terrorists or gruesome, brutal murderers. But many. How many? Since one can't judge on first sight, it seems proper to be cautious against all of them. Due to the terrorist events it seems justified to suspect any Moslem, which means mainly Arab-looking person as a potential terrorist.
I warned that this would open a new quasi racism similar to the Nazi politics: soon Moslem would have to wear a sign similar to the yellow star of David or have their passports marked for faster and easier "identification" etc.
That my warnings weren't just hot air showed the reporting about the publication of citizens data from Pakistan in the U.S. illustrated with photographs of persons who the FBI suspected as potential enemies. There are many other examples of problems Moslems run into when acting in public in the United States, especially if their outlook corresponds to the cliché of the Arab as portrayed by our mass media.
There are many other examples from European countries, especially Great Britain, were the Social democratic government is eager to "clean" the area, to prevent terror and sees almost any means justified: more and tighter observation of its population and tough scrutiny of suspects. And who are the most "prominent" suspects?
Warnings against war are generally rejected and labelled as betrayal of the true and just cause of the attacked West. Unconditional support of the leader, the U.S., must not be questioned: the German Kanzler's decision that Germany wouldn't support (directly) a war against Iraq has been criticized heavily and led almost to an isolation of Germany within the community of the "Free West" under the glorious and indispensable leadership of the U.S. and its leading leader G.W.B.
Most people believe what they read as long as it comes from trustworthy sources. The problem is: most of them never double-checked these sources and most of them never realize that they are uncritical followers, thereby fellow travellers.
In a media alert by a small but effective working group of media critics
in London (http://www.medialens.org) this problem of trust and servility
has been touched impressively: http://www.medialens.org/alerts/021217_Adjusted_Curiosity.htm
Another aspect is the opposition to war. By most Westerners this attitude is judged as cowardly. A surrender. Mostly never is asked what other means there are or would be to fight terrorism. Most concentrate on war as the only proper way to deal with. Most follow the leader. The leader follows certain interests: personal ones, of course, and others, those whose power brought himself into power as the figure head. The leader is the leader is the leader, but, different to Gertrude Stein, the leader is not the leader is not the leader, because the leader has leaders has leaders. The point is not to create another piece of literature but to question the contexts, the backgrounds of the current fields of conflict and communication.
There are times when war seems the only answer for defence. The Alliance against Nazi-Germany was such as case. Today we know that different policies years before the 2nd WW maybe would not have prevented the war but would have made it shorter and less "costly". The necessity to fight the war was the last remaining solution.
Today politicians of the West try to make us believe that the West is confronted by a similar danger and again the only proper way to act is to fight a war.
All this is phoney and false!
First: there would be many other means to fight terrorism. One, the most important, would be, not to foster and feed the conditions which lead towards terrorism because certain people find no other means to re-act, to resist, to survive (or to take revenge). Second: the mainly used concepts of "West", "free world", "democracies" etc. are not questioned. Yet they should be: who really is the West? Whose interest are endangered? Whose profit is at stake? Who wants to win? Who shall gain which profit? = Cui bono? Third: as the past has taught us: war changed things, of course, but didn't bring peace. Peace needs another kind of work. If the build-up of certain "partners" at one time hadn't been undertaken, there wouldn't be any need to disarm them at another time for another occasion. We must not forget that the West, especially the U.S. as largest and most successful arms producer and seller, has sold and distributed arms over arms to those parties who seemed suitable as "partners" for certain goals, and who, under slightly different settings, became "enemies". In both cases the business of armament was and is gigantic. But is it in the interest of the people? Whose and which people?
To be against the war doesn't mean to subscribe to dictatorships etc. It only means: war is not the right policy. We must solve conflicts in other ways. We should understand that the inability of international organisations in this business is not axiomatic but construed.
To enable such an understanding we should question much more. And demand answers beyond the clichéd slogans.