Monday’s act of cowardice in Boston provided us all a snapshot of many things wrong with America. Within moments of the second explosion, social media began its inevitable avalanche of remorse, sorrow and generally understandable responses.
But there’s a breakdown in the logic demonstrated by Americans, which we’ve witnessed multiple times through one tragedy or another. When Sandy Hook happened, the news coverage was unquestionably sensationalist.
The nation collectively mourned the innocent lives lost. Yet when the foreign press reported a loss of innocent children caused by an American drone as “collateral damage” we collectively ignore it and move on. How is that empathetic?
On the same day Americans were horrified by the loss of a dozen American lives, the UK’s Daily Mail reported a US bomb dropped on an Afghani wedding killed 30 innocent men, women and children.
These types of stories are related. There’s simply no question the foreign policy acts of the last several administrations have sown the seeds of venom in the Middle East toward Americans, but this isn’t presented to the American public because it means taking accountability for the past acts of government that occurred with consent of the people.
So it becomes an endless cycle of violence in the name of the collective. It’s so muddled at this point, it’s impossible to figure out who made the first move. For instance, there’s Afghanistan.
We engaged in a covert war with the Soviet Union arming and training Islamic Fundamentalist Jihadists in their fight against the Red Army.
Let me say that again. We trained and armed Islamic Fundamentalist Jihadists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.
When they left, so did the US support, leaving two power vacuums. Apparently no one thought that was going to create a problem.
We know now the decision to train Usama Bin Laden then leave him to his laurels was a mistake which cost the lives of 3000 Americans. But do we ever take the next step and ask ourselves what effect our response has had and will have on the Afghani, Pakistani and Iraqi people in the wars which followed?
Not often enough.
By undertaking the wars with the methods we used, we unquestionably created more future enemies for ourselves. And I do say ‘we’ because when the American people allow two presidents in a row to do the things Bush and Obama have. We have to assume some of the responsibility.
If we’d spent the same amount of money we did on the aggregate costs of Operation Enduring Freedom and later Operation Iraqi Freedom – estimated by Harvard to be as high as $6 trillion – to pay every Iraqi (33 million) and Afghani (36 million), they have each received over $85,000.00.
You know what you’re not going to be to the people who give you the better part of a hundred large? An enemy. The Bush Administration famously blamed America’s freedom for the attacks 12 years ago, apparently attempting to rectify that issue, the Bush Administration then repealed the 4th Amendment to the Constitution with the Patriot Act. Double irony.
What can we take from this? In my perception, due to the perverted view of patriotism the country believes today.
The unintended consequences of that foreign policy lead to attacks on the American people who are then frightened into paralysis by the media taking advantage of a captive audience, the audience understandably supports the “common sense” measures suggested by the political leaders who indirectly inspired the incident.
The people then willingly watch their rights erode before their eyes, believing they will now be safer from attack. But the attacks keep coming. The circle hasn’t yet been broken.
If the American people want these attacks on innocent Americans to stop, it’s not going to happen from more guards at the airport, cavity searches, more cops, fewer rights or more tyranny. We have to stop solving our problems overseas with violence against innocent men, women and children.
S. Jacob Stern is a retired USAF combat veteran and former columnist for the Collegian.