Wednesday, May 11, 2011

America Should Stop Scapegoating Pakistan for U.S. Blunders

Yes, it is true that Osama bin Laden has for the past eight years lived in a mansion, in an upscale Pakistani suburb, enjoying the luxuries of a harem, housing his three wives.   During those years, Americans, myself included, imagined the terrorist mastermind cowering in dank caves, subsisting on grubworms.  Even so, that should be no reason to scapegoat Pakistan for America's  unacknowledged "shame."  What I mean is this.   

In responding to the 9/11 attacks, then President George W. Bush made one of the most monumental foreign policy blunders in our nation's history.  Rather than criminalizing  the terrorist act of bin Laden and his minions, the President paid too much attention to ideologues in his administration, and too little attention to common sense.  What would have happened had Bush made it clear to the American public that terrorist criminals, not whole Middle East nations and the Islamic religion, were responsible for this heinous act?   In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the entire world, including the countries of the Middle East, sympathized sincerely and deeply with us.  Muslim nations wanted to help find the perpetrators, perhaps even more than the rest of the world, because they feared an anti-Islamic backlash. 

However Bush, egged on by the neo-conservatives in his Administration, like Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld decided to teach the world a lesson.  It was namely that the U.S. was still the world's only superpower, and it possessed the greatest military on the planet.   The Taliban had undoubtedly aided al-Qaeda, but apparently so had a host of others outside of  Afghanistan. 

The American public, getting no counter-arguments from the mainstream media, accepted two lies.  The first was that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were essentially the same movement.  Thus we had to invade Afghanistan.  But when that invasion got bogged down and did not provide the emotional catharsis the Bush Administration had expected it to give the American public, then the second lie took shape.  It was that America had to invade Iraq, leaving the public to believe that there was an ideological and tactical connection between the secular Saddam Hussein, and the Islamic fundamentalist, Osama bin Laden. 

Now that bin Laden is dead, the U.S. should stop blaming Pakistan or anyone else.  What we need to do collectively as a nation is "own our shame."   Islamabad may have been playing games with us.  But are the Pakistanis responsible for decisions made by the White House and Congress, which led us to waste three trillion dollars in unnecessary wars, depriving American citizens of 5,885 of their loved ones, and causing half a million civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan?  The greater part of this so-called collateral damage, involved women and children.  It is no wonder that even larger segments of the Islamic world hate us now then did before the 9/11 attacks.  If Americans don't feel shame, they should.
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