Monday, September 20, 2021

Latest bombings will only enforce stereotype

February 21, 2001

Hypothetical question: What would you do if you had an area of the world seething with religious differences, military conflicts and resentment toward the United States?

If you said launch an unprovoked air strike and kill a few people, then you totally agree with our president and government.

The decision of our government, along with Britain, to send 24 warplanes to attack radar and air defense sites south of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, was hugely misguided.

This attack killed a woman, Ghayda Atshaan Abdullah, and a man, Khalil Hameed Alwash. Twenty more were wounded; two are said to be in critical condition. The planes’ missiles also caused costly property damage. What’s worse is that an agricultural village with no military sites, al-Hafriya, was struck.

Our government says the strike occurred to stop Iraq from improving its ability to target U.S. and British planes in the no-fly zone of Southern Iraq. These no-fly zones have also been questioned as to whether they actually have backing from the United Nations. France pulled its planes out of Iraq’s no-fly zones years ago.

I would question whether building up targeting systems is a sufficient reason to launch an attack in the Middle East, where diplomatic relations are extremely precarious. One sufficient reason for a U.S. attack on Iraq might be if Iraq had sent warplanes to launch missiles at us only for improving our military capabilities. Interestingly enough, that’s actually what the U.S. has just done and Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein are not happy.

Threats of retaliation have already sprung up. Iraq plans to take military action if another attack occurs, showing much more restraint than the U.S. did. Last Sunday, thousands gathered for a protest of the attack in Baghdad. Hussein seems to have a great deal of public support. The air strike has obviously exacerbated tensions and resentments in Iraq in a big way.

Furthermore, this stupid decision to attack occurs amidst the backdrop of war in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis over control of Jerusalem. Hussein has been increasing Iraq’s military strength in order to help the Palestinians take control of Jerusalem.

Granted, promoting a jihad (holy war) is definitely the wrong way to solve the dispute over Jerusalem, which would ideally be shared peaceably. Nor has Hussein’s oppression of Shiite Muslims and Kurds, minorities in Iraq, been excusable.

However, maiming and killing Iraqis is not going to improve diplomatic relations, peace talks or calm Iraq’s attitude toward the international community. President Bush and others in our government who supported this attack, both Democrats and Republicans, have now further endangered the peace process.

The international community has also condemned the U.S. and Britain’s actions toward Iraq. Political leaders and the media in a long list of nations including Jordan, Syria, Iran, India, Cuba, China, France, Russia, Turkey and Spain have decried the decision to attack. Many countries in the United Nations, including NATO allies, were quite angry they were not consulted at all about whether an air strike would be a good idea.

The attack looks even more inadvisable when one considers that important discussions were coming up in the United Nations over issues relevant to Iraq.

U.N. talks over whether to lift devastating economic sanctions on Iraq and getting Iraq to let weapons inspectors back into the country were soon to begin. It has been well-documented that those strong economic sanctions, set up after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, have led to widespread malnutrition and disease in Iraq.

The sanctions have drawn much criticism from many nations and organizations like the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International.

The weapons inspections are clearly also important to aid in ensuring the world’s safety and de-escalating conflict in the Middle East. How smoothly those negotiations will go now is highly questionable considering the U.S.’s aggressive, unprovoked attack.

Yet another likely negative consequence of this decision could arise in increased prejudice toward Arab Americans. In times of conflict between the U.S. and other nations, people in the U.S. and the government have typically turned against citizens whose ancestry is traced to the nation in conflict. Consider the placement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II or the panic over Russians in the U.S. during the Cold War.

Arab Americans already have to deal with the Muslim terrorist stereotype that I am sure will only intensify now, Arab Americans confront problems with racial profiling and harassment, especially airport passenger profiling. Additionally, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has used “secret evidence” to deny Arab Americans their Fifth Amendment right to due process of law.

This secret evidence does not have to be released to the accused or her/his lawyers and has included such things as inaccurate translations, rumors, prejudiced stereotyping and insinuations.

The INS has used secret evidence to deny political asylum, bond in cases of deportation and in some cases, Arab Americans have been held in solitary confinement for years. The usage of secret evidence was based upon the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996, which was passed during a paranoid illegal immigration scare. A repeal of the act has been introduced, but not yet passed.

With Bush stepping up the aggravation of Iraq, people of Arab descent are sure to suffer from the negative propaganda used to justify attacks. All of this despite the fact Oklahoma City and Unabomber-type psychos have proven far more dangerous than any minorities in this country.

Well, at least Bush has proven that he actually is good at foreign policy - as long as it includes launching missiles and ignoring the interests of other nations.

Brian Emerson Jones, an interdisciplinary studies in social science sophomore, can be reached at jonesb20@msu.edu.

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