12 years later: On Arab strategy, 9/11 and the “war on terror”

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POST_17-IMG0Today marks the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 New York twin towers terrorist attacks that shook the world’s views on national security, safety, Islam, and the Middle East. Today, Islam remains tainted by terroristic definitions, and the Middle East as a whole, is still a threat to National security.

Since then, the US has attacked Afghanistan, Iraq and was getting ready for Syria.

The US’ defense mechanism has become to attack those who might threaten their national security and their economy, all the while hiding behind an initiative to spread democracy and rid people in emerging markets from things like oppression, injustice, but also loved ones and dignity.

There are people dying, all over my region. They are not dying for a reason, they are not Martyrs, but they are victims of an endless chess game. Their death did not help a cause, just like the 9/11 victims, they died simply because we failed to communicate otherwise, because we discriminate, because we separate, and because we hate. (i)

Fellow Arabs, we are not so different from the United States. Take for example us Lebanese who have been fighting each other for so long that we are not sure what we are fighting for anymore. We’ve used religion, political parties, and opinions as an excuse to be separated. We hate as passionately as we love, without realizing that all war is civil because we are all brothers and sisters. We use terror to get a message across; we punch holes into our national security forgetting that it is our only shield against international interference. All the lives, money, time, opportunities forgone, discrimination and hatred are the real costs of the war on terror, regardless of where it is. Is it efficient? No, it is counter productive because wars have only made a difference once the doors of communications are open. Let’s just skip to that part; let’s communicate because only the dead have seen the end of war. (ii)

Maybe there is a reason the US has left us alone… and it isn’t because we don’t have enough oil, because the country has a relatively high percentage of Christians compared to the rest of the region or because we are feared. After all the United States’ natural resources are not significant enough to attract terrorist attempts but their global power and actions are. So it must be because the US is confident that we will always do a better job fighting amongst ourselves than they would fighting us. Basically, we are so weak as a nation that we cannot cause any threat to another, how bad of a reputation is that? We can’t even play “chess” because we don’t have foresight, only bitterness from a past that should have been re-written on a fresh white page a long time ago, and it sits there in the forefront of our minds, dictating our future.

We need to think more strategically, and less emotionally. We have to be more rational and be held accountable for what we DON’T do just like we are for the things we DO. We need to evaluate the risks before we make a move and we need to take risks only when the opportunity it reveals is worthwhile. We must become more educated in the way we make our political decisions, and most importantly we have to learn from our mistakes.  Through proper risk management we can use past history to make better decisions for the future, we can insure it does not repeat itself, and we can work on doing it all with the least possible damage to security, society, infrastructure and economy. It is great to have passion and love for your country, but when people are dying, nations are weakening, and economies are hurting, what’s love got to do with it? (iii)

In remembering the 9/11 victims, I hope the US remembers victims of their own terror on the Middle East and learn to draw a new page. I hope that the Lebanese too, can remember theirs, and maybe finally admit that those who died were victims, not martyrs and that it didn’t help THE cause, because we don’t know what that cause is and if you ask around about it, chances are we don’t all agree on the same one.

(i) Inspired by my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King quote “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”
(ii) “only the dead have seen the end of war” – Plato
(iii) “what’s love got to do with it?” – Tina Turner
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