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Veni, Vidi, Not Quite Vinci

Walk On!
Walk On!

Another bites the dust. Another Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, the 67th. Americans casualty ? 427 soldiers, if no one dies by tomorrow. Operation Enduring Freedom ? Yeah, right.

We somehow got used to it. I can’t remember a time when, flicking though the TV channels, I wouldn’t see fuzzy footage of cities covered by thick layer of dust, tanks, and suddenly a bomb explodes. Soldiers running away, picture of an hospital somewhere and some wounded kids laying on a bed, passerby testifying “the car just blew up” or “my house is destroyed“. Casualties. Such a modest word for so many deaths.

The war again terror. Gee, I wonder how they feel over there but I’m guessing anything but safe.

We all remember how it started. The World Trade Center attacks. “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world”, said Bush.

Al Quaeda and its leaders were to go down. Operation “infinite Justice”, as it was to be called in the aftermaths of 9/11. Sounds more like a revenge than a carefully designed plan. But who could blame the USA ? The attacks were sudden, shocking and full of hate. The USA looked like the idol with feet of clay and most of the world backed the mourning country. Terrorism isn’t fair. The world stared at the footage of the planes crashing into the WTC. Let’s catch the bad guys. Oh, sorry : let’s use the act of collective self-defense provided for under Article 51 of the UN Charter (sounds more proper this way).

But it didn’t go as planned. Osama was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, soldiers were killed, civilians were bombed (clean war is a nice concept on paper) and detainees were sent to Guantanamo Bay – not that we knew what was going on there. Tough beast. And we were the hunters.

And then it was Irak. All the pretexts were good : Irak was developing weapons of mass destruction, there were a strong bond between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Yipee comrade, the dictator is dead – where are the weapons, where is Osama ? Still looking for them. Man, the “axis of evil” was deceptive.

I can’t possibly support the terrorists nor I can support the Talibans, Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, North Korea’s hard liner system or religious zealots, whoever they are. But bombing countries hardly helps, especially when there are no post-invasion plans.

Here’s the deal we’re offering to most countries we don’t like : we were here first, we rule the world, we know what’s right and what’s wrong – deal with it. A few decades ago, it was perfectly fine for the USA, the USSR, the UK, France, China etc. to develop atomic weapons. Once we realized our stupidity (blowing the planet is basically a no-win situation, right ?) we all happily signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. The treaty mention complete disarmament that liquidates nuclear weapons but we didn’t read that line and failed to meet our obligations. Not that it matters, right ? The very same treaty entitles us to go to war against the countries who don’t respect it.We think we’re within our right. We think our civilization is more advanced, we think we are tolerant and open-minded. We believe in our democracy and freedom. Only problem is, we set the rules.

I was happy to see women voting during the Afghan presidential elections. I’m not happy to see Muslims targeted as terrorists all over the world. I was glad to see a dictatorship falling. I wasn’t happy when this same dictator was hanged, nor that I was happy to see human right abuses in Irak. War isn’t about bringing our wonderful civilization to a bunch of oppressed citizens. If war there is, it should be for the people and for their right to self-determination.

But it seems that recently, our personal interests collided a bit too much with the nation’s legitimate right to self-determination. I still remember when the Talibans ordered the demolition of the two statues of Buddhas at Bamiyan in March 2001. At the time, it was just a news briefs. No one cared about the Talibans, even though they had been in power for a few years already. Foreign powers were at first supportive of them as a matter of fact. It wouldn’t have been for 9/11, would have we gone at war against them ? Did we actually care about women’s right there ?

I’m not sure where we’re going with these wars. I’m hoping Iran won’t be next. I’m hoping we won’t go towards a war of civilization, because I can tell you fundamentalist Christians worry me as much as fundamentalist Muslim. I’m hoping for a better balance of power in this world because the western world also has a lot to learn. I’m hoping we won’t fight blindly against everything we don’t agree to or we don’t understand. I’m hoping we will stop using the force to push for our goals.

Basically, I’m an Utopian. Oh well.

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