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Fred's Views

September 11, 2001

The recent events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania have had me pretty much glued to the TV. What can one say beyond the obvious: we grieve with those who have lost loved ones, we suffer with those who have been injured, and we long for justice to prevail.

Such a detestable and senseless act can not go unpunished. But let's make sure we punish those responsible. And let's at least try and do it through appropriate judicial channels. After all, to strike back in anger is to reduce ourselves to the level of these terrorists.

Revenge and Vigilantism are not tolerated in a democratic justice system. They should not be tolerated in the international arena either. Unfortunately, the policing and the judicial systems required may not be in place, internationally. Ideally, this should come under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, but unfortunately, the UN doesn't have the resources to find and arrest the terrorists and the World Court may or may not be able to dispense justice.

I believe the United States should at least approach whatever country may currently be harboring the terrorists and attempt to have the terrorists extradited to the U.S. (or some other agreed upon country who would serve as host for the trial). I believe the U.S. should do whatever it can reasonably do (including promises of economic and other aid, if appropriate) to persuade this government that it would not only be in their interest but in the interest of all the world to cooperate. It probably won't work, unfortunately, but it is important that the US be seen as at least attempting to work out a solution with the harboring government rather than going in and attacking first and asking questions later.

It is essential that terrorists be eliminated. These tragic events may provide the catalyst to spark the U.S. and all other responsible governments to ferret out this evil. However, this will not end the underlying hate and frustration. Rightly or wrongly there are people in this world who believe their problems were/are caused by the U.S. Obviously, their problems are much more complex than that, but the U.S. (and many other countries) is not blameless. Some of these ills are directly or indirectly linked to U.S. (and others) actions (or lack of action). The time has come to make a united and concerted effort not only to eradicate terrorism, but to eradicate its underlying causes: hunger, want, illiteracy, lack of opportunity, tyranny, inequality, and more. What body or organization can take on this role? Can the UN be resurrected and empowered as it has never been before? Or do we need a new organization, an organization with teeth, an organization that is limited to those nations who give democracy more than just lip service, but who practice it daily. Here, too, the United States must take some blame. It has traditionally been reluctant to submit its autonomy to any international organization. It's understandable, but it's antiquated. We live in a global community.

The sooner we start building global institutions the better. The US can not police the whole world, but the US can be a major player in a global institution with policing powers. Our global community also must address the horrific disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots". That may well mean that many of us will have to learn to live with a lower standard of living so that others can raise theirs. And it's only fair.

As a famous "W" likes to say, "make no mistake", I have no sympathy whatsoever for the evil minds that contemplated and carried out the unthinkable and senseless acts of September 11, 2001. This evil must be stopped. But that is only half the war. If we don't attack the underlying causes as well, new and more frightening terror will spring up. Let's fight the whole war, not just the battle.

The horrific events of September 11, 2001 have brought devastation and grief to thousands of people and have created a financial disruption that will take months or years to heal, but they might also be the catalyst to real, meaningful world change, a change for the better. If so, then these lives will not have been lost in vain.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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