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March 25, 2002 - Image 4

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 25, 2002

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

JON SCHWARTZ
Editor in Chief
JOHANNA HANINK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
"There's a lot of
frustration in European
public opinion."
- European union trade commissioner
Pascal Lamy in a March 22 New York Times
story, referring to the tariffs that the EU is
placing on common U.S. imports in reaction
to the U.S. 's new steel trade restrictions.

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The U.S. vying for attention in the Middle East
JOHANNA HANINK PARLANCE OF OUR Ti Ms

4

n Thursday, Oct. 8,.
1998, the House of
Representatives
voted on an impeachment
inquiry resolution against
then-President Bill Clinton.
That same day, Clinton,
speaking at a health care
event in the White House's
Roosevelt room, announced,
"Yesterday I decided that the United States
would vote to give NATO the authority to carry
out military strikes against Serbia if President
Milosevic continues to defy the international
community."
Ten months earlier, on Jan. 9, New Line
Cinema had released "Wag the Dog," a fright-
eningly prophetic movie in which a Hollywood
producer (Dustin Hoffman) and a presidential
spin doctor (Robert DeNiro) concoct a war in
Albania - complete with refugees, a hero and a
theme-song - in order to take the heat off of a
presidential sex scandal.
The only significant difference between the
actions of the Clinton administration and the fic-
tion of the movie seems to be that President
Clinton's war wasn't against Albania, but on
behalf of ethnic Albanians residing in Kosovo.
The "wag the dog" phenomenon was noth-
ing new in 1998; every American military inter-
vention since the Vietnam War has arguably
displayed some symptoms. As the role of the
media in shaping public opinion, reporting on
- and to some extent creating - world events
has soared, political figures have responded by
wising up to ever-craftier methods of media-
manipulation. Take Dick Cheney and his
"bureau of misinformation" (gone now, he
promises) for starters. '
However, it seems that wagging the dog has
taken an accidental twist. Much to George W.

Bush and his administration's dismay, the esca-
lation of violence in the Middle East has sent
what should be an embarrassing war on terror-
ism to page two of the collective American
political consciousness. More importantly, it has
distracted the international community from
giving its full attention to America's PR-slash-
anti-terrorism rhetorical campaign.
Bush entered office intent on taking a far less
active role than his predecessor in mediating the
conflict in the Middle East. When the violence of
the second intifada would periodically escalate to
a level at which it would have been both ridicu-
lous and embarrassing for the President of the
United States to shy from comment, he made
half-hearted and disinterested calls for restraint
from Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The U.S. has now sent Gen. Anthony Zinni
back to Israel to help the negotiations process,
George Bush's next call in a confusing back and
forth policy dance. Left (Sept. 11 comes and
Bush deploys Zinni to push the Mitchell and
Tenet peace plans)-right (the violence increases
and Bush pulls Zinni out until the situation
grows quieter and safer)-left (the U.S. wants the
conflict solved and solved fast so the world can
get back to crying for our losses and backing the
war on terror).
Why is it that now Bush decides to pick up
the slack of a neglected responsibility to peace-
advocacy in the most volatile - and somehow,
the most symbolic - New Jersey-sized peace
of land in the world?
The answer is not about a lasting peace in
the Middle East. Somehow, the United States,
vying for international support, has selfishly
managed to make the Mideast peace process not
about peace, not about the lives of Palestinians
and Israelis, but about us.
The United States is playing the petulant and
ignored middle child.

A lot of it comes down to the reality (about
which Bush is unapologetic) that we want to
settle our scores against Iraq. We want to bomb
them but we want to bomb them with interna-
tional support. After we've taken care of
Afghanistan, it would be an even uglier move in
the eyes of Arab states to attack Iraq and contin-
ue to hate on or simply ignore the Palestinians at
the same time.
But the irony is that Arab states aren't pay-
ing that much attention to us at the moment -
and neither are European ones. The world has
found something more important to worry about
in the Arab-Israeli conflict than the United
States' vengeful and arbitrary war on terrorism.
Reentering the negotiations process serves
two purposes. We look good to the interna-
tional community; we look like we care about
the security issues that countries other than
ourselves face.
Second, we move along a peace process so
the world can get back to caring about what
we wish it were focused on right now: Throw-
ing support behind the impending attacks on
the axis of evil. Supporting continued attacks
on Afghanistan and the Philippines. Support-
-ing our own terrorism in the name of extin-
guishing terror.
Last week, Vice President Cheney conclud-
ed an 11-country grand tour of the Middle East
and North Africa. A very real piece of news has
interfered with the spotlight on the United States
and Cheney was out there making sure to get it
turned back on.
We won't let anyone forget what the United
States suffered one Tuesday in September. Even
if it means pretending like we genuinely care
about someone else.

4

I
I

Johanna Hanink can be reached
atjhanink@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

It takes an American to
criticize America
To THE DAILY:
Sean Caron managed to pique my curiosity
several times in his letter regarding Yael Kohen's
column (Kohen's column displayed ignorance of
international affairs; United States' role, 3/22/02).
First, I'd love to know whether Caron has ever
apologized for his nationality. Here's how my typi-
cal greeting went upon meeting a new European:
"Hi, I'm Dana, I'm American and I'm sorry." This
was how I let people know that, although I'm from
the States, that doesn't mean that I agree with nor
am I proud of the SUV/Survivor/bombs/Christian
tyranny degeneration that's become our culture.
But an apology is unnecessary, because it's not I
who commits the acts that deserve apology.
Secondly, Kohen stated that "even the most
liberal and the most critical of Americans" get
sick of being told we're wrong. Being a liberal,
critical American, I agree with Caron that Ameri-
ca's neo-imperialism is an unnecessary display of
our absurdly overdeveloped military muscles -
but it's entirely different to hear it from foreigners.
One can't smile and admit the errors of her
country's idiot leaders (not her errors) for long
before she gets sick of it and wishes they would
leave her damn country alone. I wonder how

Caron would feel, for example, if his grandfather
blew up the Cube and everyone he met on campus
told him he sucks because he's related to the man
who blew up the Cube.
So. Our country is unrefined; our Constitution
is slowly being undermined; we're constantly
overstepping our boundaries; and even I plan to
move to Canada after college to get out of this
land of the "free." However, I do not like receiv-
ing all blame and no credit.
I entirely agree with Caron's letter, with the
exception of Kohen's "disregard for international
sentiment." I just wish he'd traveled a bit so he
could perhaps know what Kohen, and thus him-
self, was talking about.
DANA HEITZ
LSA junior
RA to Jeremy Peters: 'Bravo
on your exit from couth'
To THE DAILY:
I'm glad Jeremy Peters' editorial concerning
Residential Assistants was printed in the Daily on
Friday (RA's: There are better ways to spend tuition
dollars). Someday, when he sends his equally dis-
dainful and solipsistic children to college (should
he unfortunately procreate), he should have a
chance to re-read and re-think his short-sighted

and mean-spirited comments.
I was an RA at the University of New Hamp-
shire (1990-92). Though you're asked to imple-
ment social programs, hall activities, etc., an RA
quickly finds himself assisting in the problems of
their residents. That is the main reason RAs are
put in place at a university: They are often a stu-
dent's best nonjudgemental source for help when
they need (or want) it.
That includes assistance with understanding
course registration, getting counseling, receiving
medical attention, or simply having a shoulder to
cry on. If you've served a tour as an RA, you've
seen and smelled just about everything; and I
would encourage students to ask their RAs about
their experiences and to support them.
I had residents with attitudes similar to Jere-
my's, usually males suffering from a protracted
case of "Tough Guy Syndrome." Some realized
over time that I wasn't their enemy, just a student
like them who was willing to make sacrifices to
help them and to listen. Others never came around
(e.g. Jeremy), never missing an opportunity to
ridicule me or other RAs with silly, unsubstantiat-
ed, and just plain mean comments. I applaud Jere-
my for taking it to the next level and publicizing
his carelessly flippant remarks in the Daily. Bravo
Jeremy, on your exit from couth.
KENNETH LONGO
Medical School postdoctoral fellow

I

VIEWPOINT
The real problems with the case of Rabih Haddad

I

by Jim Secreto
As Americans, we tend to think of our
democracy as open and our freedoms as, well,
free. We relish the idea - as abstract as it may
seem - that a Constitution exists to protect us
from any right-infringing evil that may rear its
ugly head toward our collective civil liberties. We
like the thought that our government is account-
able, accessible, approachable and, you better
believe, we are accustomed to these beliefs.
Yet, as the impact of Sept. 11 continues to
manifest itself months after the initial terrorist
attacks, we are coming to the sad realization that
our assumptions about American democracy,
openness and freedom are just that - assump-
tions. While democracy and openness have yet to
achieve a relationship defined by mutual exclu-
sivity, neo-America seems all too willing to

evidence of, funding terrorist organizations.
But the openness in American democracy has
little to do with the status of Haddad's visa, his
nationality or whether his group funds terrorists;
it has everything to do with his ability to have a
fair and open trial in a country we assume values
its own constitutional rights.
Specifically, Haddad has faced three hearings
in immigration court thus far and all have been
closed to the public. This closure is what prompt-
ed the American Civil Liberties Union of Michi-
gan to file a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of
the Detroit News, the Metrotimes and U.S. Rep.
John Conyers (D-Mich.) asserting that the public
and press have First Amendment and due process
rights to attend Haddad's hearings. The lawsuit
hearings, which begin tomorrow morning in fed-
eral court in Detroit, are the first in the nation
challenging the U.S. Patriot Act and the govern-
ment's policies since Sept. 11.

The public has a constitutional right to a judi-
cial system that is accessible and open. As
David Cole of the Center for Constitutional
Rights put it, "Open trials are the bedrock of
our justice system. Secret trials are the hallmark
of totalitarian societies."
Admittedly, in times of crisis, there is a natur-
al push towards stiffening those protections
already in place to protect law-abiding Ameri-
cans. Theoretically, closed trails can protect
American lives by keeping sensitive information
on national security away from those who would
use it violently and unlawfully. However, the
essence of a closed trail does not allow for the
public to know if a trial really is sensitive to
national security. Hence, closed trails eliminate
any checks on governmental power, forcing us to
trust the government.
But it is not the best idea to assume the gov-

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