Pandora’s Box

The story goes: Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. Upon learning this, Zeus offered Pandora to Prometheus as a wife. Suspecting that it was trickery on the part of Zeus, he refused her. When she was created the gods had imbued her with certain attributes such as beauty, charm, cunning, wit, eloquence, deceit, skill, and curiosity. She was also told never to open a box that she was also given. Unbeknownst to her, this box contained all of the evils of the world such as hate, anger, sickness, poverty, and every bad thing in the world.

One of the latest sensational terrorist acts was perpetrated in Mumbai, India by a group of well trained commandos armed with deadly weapons, explosives and inexpensive technology. These individuals were able to paralyze one of the main cities in India and held at bay a large contingent of police and military units for days. This incident is just one more that points to the fact that the war on terror, espoused by some of the world’s richest and most prominent nations, is an utter failure from every perspective. The innocent Afghans, Iraqis, Indians, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and so many others that perish each day at the hands of the “glorious armed forces” or at the blazing, searing, site of an exploding guided missile or bomb; know all too well about terrorism.

When the USA government embarked on this ill conceived war, few must have realized that one can’t fight an idea. A brief review of American History could have confirmed this fact to our dim witted leaders. Long ago a few rag tag colonials armed with muskets, courage and a burning desire for freedom from King George’s oppression defeated one of the world’s best trained and equipped armies; and the mercenaries that worked for King George fared no better either.

Terrorism or Terror has been defined as:

“Reiterates that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them;”

This definition is found on the official UN website. [1]

It is item number 2 of the section: B. Draft resolutions A/C.6/52/L.21 and L.24 and draft decision A/C.6/52/L.22

In this document no difference is made of the individuals composing the terrorist side; which means that we could include IRA, Al Qaeda, IDF, US Army or any other armed unit, whenever they target civilians or when they ignore the different conventions of war, and in their campaigns harm civilians in any way or form. We must include government organized or sanctioned armed forces simply because they are merely an extension of the government. When the armed forces are utilized they are simply being used to further some political agenda; it does not matter if the beneficiaries are members of the government, the elite, or corporations or anyone else. At some point in the chain of command there is always a politico or a despot or a combination thereof giving the orders.

I realize that many of my fellow country men will question very vociferously my assertion above, but please wait a moment before you judge. Tell me how would you label the American soldiers under Lt. William Calley who on March 16, 1968 entered the village of My Lai in South Vietnam and proceeded to murder women, children and old men? It is clear that the men, in the midst of their martial madness were not considering the political ramifications while the torn flesh and exploding skulls painted a ghastly image on the canvas of My Lai. But they were still soldiers of the USA and hence represented it, while they were emptying their M16s on the hapless civilians. And since they had been sent there to enforce the political agenda of the United States government at the time, they can correctly be labeled as terrorists, no different from an Al-Qaeda operative that detonates a bomb in a crowded market or a Palestinian individual who destroys himself in a crowded bus, among civilians, or an Israeli soldier who shoots a young Palestinian girl and then empties his magazine on her bloodied body “just to make sure that she is dead”, as in the case of Iman al-Hams as reported on the BBC website.

Since one can not win a war against an idea, then it is ludicrous to stoke the fires of hatred by utilizing the very same thing that one is fighting. Every time one of our bombs falls on a wedding party in Afghanistan, this incites more young men to join the ranks of the guerillas. We may eliminate one fighter but in the process we may be creating tens or hundreds more. This is an untenable process, eventually we will run out of soldiers, money and resources. But the most important point is that by acting unilaterally and displaying such disrespect for the innocent lives we are taking each and every day, we have opened the Pandora box of terrorism.

Even after our armies leave Iraq and Afghanistan, in disgrace and defeat, the war will follow us home. We will welcome back sick young men, broken in body and mind. Many of these young warriors will need help throughout their lives, just to fit in to our society. And how many terrorists will we have created among them? Having forced them to perform unspeakable acts on their enemy, and worse, on innocent civilians? This is even before considering the huge numbers of terrorists that we will have created throughout the world, who will be planning new attacks such as the one in Mumbai, on American interests overseas. Let us not forget that American corporations utilize hotels, offices, and employees in many parts of the world. And just as the Israelis have learned that it is impossible to guard against every possible attack, so shall we. Sadly and inevitably, some attacks are bound to be successful.

But just like Pandora failed to let out that last one item; hope, we too still have hope to keep us working to reverse all the damage that our destructive wars are perpetrating on the people of Asia. The first step is to realize the damage that we are causing and then to work to change the system that made it possible. The second step is to realize that we need a new tack in order to reduce the violence, war is not the answer, in fact, it is extremely counterproductive. Violence and hatred begets the same, it is the same all over the world; after all we are all human beings, hostage to the same emotions, fears and triggers. Peace is the only solution.