Wisdom, Not Rage

It depends on the United States of America to see that Black Tuesday is the last of such cataclysms and not the first of many even blacker Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays being feared around the world, given the dark hints about a retribution comparable to that for Pearl Harbour and the cauldrons of despair our planet is host to.

In this extremely trying hour, when the US – and the rest of the world – battles grief at the immense loss of life in Manhattan and justly wants the perpetrators punished, it shall have to rise to the onerous responsibilities that devolve on a power aspiring to world leadership. It owes it to itself to demonstrate once and for all that its legitimate quest for pre-eminence is not contaminated with the desire for world domination; that even as it seeks justice for itself, it has an equal concern for justice to others.

For a long time, such an opportunity shall not come its way again. No one could have put it better than George W Bush, the president of the grievously wounded nation: “It was one of those moments in which history splits, and we define the world as `before’ and `after.'” The course that the US chooses to take will define what the “after” is going to be.é

The world today is pock-marked with pockets of unrest and cauldrons of despair and frustration. Economic and political injustice coupled with repressive counter-measures have spawned myriad desperate groups that are prepared to go to any lengths to undo what they perceive as wrongs committed on them. Cynical maneuverings by major world powers, who can’t see beyond their short-and-long-term interests, have made the situation incredibly complex for a black and white value judgment. And these groups are not confined to specific territories, but scattered throughout the world, particularly in countries where they wish to strike. Can indiscriminate and disproportionate reprisals not generate counter-reprisals and set into motion a cycle of violence that will lead to the kind of innocent casualties that the US wants to avenge?

The US – deriving its power largely from its ability to wreak precisely the kind of mayhem witnessed in Manhattan and Washington (millions of times over) – should not be seen to be acting out of rage at the challenge to its invincibility. The spirits of thousands of people – American, Arab, European, Asian – who were killed in the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon will not wish such calamity to visit the world again.

Mr. Sajjad Haider is the editor-in-chief of the daily Kashmir Observer.

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