Does anyone believe war will stop acts of terror? Won’t an attack on Iraq breed only more humiliated and hate-filled terrorists? Even if we hide every plastic knife in Europe and America, will it stop an attack from a man who is desperate enough to commit suicide? Isn’t it time we addressed the grievances that are generating so much hostility and hopelessness - the suffering of the larger world community whose misery we so coldly dismiss as of little consequence? Whose God ordained that a privileged few may pamper ourselves in luxurious underwear, while millions in Afghanistan and Angola can’t even get ill-fitting artificial limbs?
If history teaches anything it is that the outcomes of war are unpredictable. How many of us remember the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 that eventually led to the startling collapse of the Soviet empire twelve years later? Would Adolf Hitler have launched his war for world dominance had he known the outcome? Or, for that matter, would the US have fought its war in Vietnam had it foreseen the humiliating outcome of that adventure?
In America, the past is not only relegated to history but is often banished even from memory. Countries have histories, and events their consequences. It is dangerous to disregard the past; if we don’t learn from history, the future will come back to haunt us. Some aspect of it already has, in the shape of the biggest terrorist attack of all time, on the Twin Towers in New York.
©Bapsi Sidhwa 2003
Originally published as part of a debate on 6 February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. IISee also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.
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