4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 21, 2003
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outraged by this
SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX
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- Community High School student Ben Ayer,
who protested against the war yesterday in Ann
Arbor, as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.
Liberation, second chances and dark days ahead
DAVID ENDERS WEIRD SCIENCE
BEIRUT, Lebanon -
had a wonderful
dream last night.
agreed to go into exile
in order to save his
' people from death and
f Bush the Lesser called
off his war, saying his
belligerence and crusader zeal were all part
of a brilliant ruse.
"We just wanted to liberate the people of
Iraq without bloodshed," he said from the
White House Rose Garden. "The only way to
do that was to look real serious. Cold War-style
brinksmanship. I've been practicin' my poker
face. Me and Colin were the only ones in on it!
We fooled ya! And all these months Dick
Cheney has been in an 'undisclosed location?'
He's been working on a comprehensive and
responsible plan to rebuild the Iraqi infrastruc-
ture. Halliburton's even gonna donate the
money to do it."
Waking up these days is more depressing
Now that the "liberation" of Iraq's oil -
uh, people - has begun, it's time for the Bush
junta to make good on the promise that all the
United States wants is to spread democracy and
make the world safer for everyone. But there
are better ways to promote those ideals. For
example, there is Kirsten Scheid, a Princeton
graduate student living in Beirut who attended
an anti-war demonstration in front of the
American Embassy here earlier this month.
The embassy, a compound in one of the sub-
urbs, is guarded by Lebanese soldiers and
demonstrators are often met with tear gas and
Scheid arrived at the embassy carrying a
sign identifying her (in Arabic and English) as
an American against the war. She noticed that at
this particular protest, the alleys into which peo-
ple normally escaped when they were gassed or
hosed were blocked by barbed wire. As the sol-
diers appeared to be preparing to use the water,
she was hurried to the front by the mostly Arab
protesters. The police told her it wasn't safe to
be there, but she stayed put. No one was hosed,
no gas was used and the protest stayed peaceful.
Sheid is convinced she was a major reason - if
not the only one - this was the case. One
American, living abroad, seeing her citizenship
as a way to help other people instead of a reason
to be scared. International Solidarity Movement
activist Rachel Corrie, murdered last week in
Gaza, was following the same sort of logic.
Losing people who are waging the fight for
civil liberties with civil disobedience is tragic,
but we'll lose far fewer people that way than we
will by bombing.
Direct action isn't the only way to spread
American ideals. Every morning, on my way
down the street to pick up a newspaper, I have
to sidestep the Kalishnikov barrels of
Lebanese soldiers assigned to protect the near-
by McDonald's. I'm not a big fan of burger
and fries diplomacy, but it beats bombing.
Export your consumer culture and their politi-
cal thought will follow. Granted, this and the
aforementioned process are slower than the
shock therapy of war, but strong-arming peo-
ple just makes them resentful. Ground-level
methods for introducing American culture
(and in theory, democracy along with it) have
much longer-lasting effects. Perhaps if U.S.
policymakers worked along those lines,
McDonald's wouldn't need armed guards.
After Sept. 11, the optimistic side of me pre-
dicted Americans would be imbued with a new
interest in understanding world affairs, specifi-
cally how and why American foreign policy
often causes resentment from those on the short
end of it. The pessimistic side of me predicted
Sept. 11 would be hijacked as specious reason-
ing for killing people in foreign countries. Now
that we're giving people all over the world
another reason to resent the United States,
here's your next big opportunity to learn about
why they don't like us very much. This time,
please pay attention. Things are going to get
worse before they get better.
It has been over a day since the first mis-
siles were fired into Iraq and I just returned
from a demonstration at the British Embassy.
The overwhelming sentiment in the streets is
one of futility. After the police turned the
water cannons on the protesters (who in this
case provoked the police by trying to remove a
barrier blocking the road to the embassy), two
men picked up an Iraqi flag, stood defiantly in
the stream of water and hoisted it above their
heads. They looked rather ... liberated. For my
part, I was the only obvious foreigner present
(I, don't exactly blend in when standing in a
crowd of Arabs) besides a pair of European
students who were with me. We weathered a
few "aren't you guys on the wrong side of the
fence?" looks before we began talking to some
of the protesters, who expressed gratitude
instead of animosity that we had stayed. Some
came up and shook our hands.
"You, you and you! You are the good
ones!" one guy said.
It doesn't just have to be us.
Enders can be reached at
EXCLUSIVE OPINION INTERVIEW
The Michigan Daily's Neal Pais recently inter-
viewed journalist Simon Reeve on the repercussions
of war in Iraq. Reeve is an expert on al-Qaida,
author of The New York Times' bestseller "The
New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and
the Future of Terrorism" and a former staff writer
for The Sunday Times of London.
The Michigan Daily: Is Saddam as danger-
ous to global security as the media purports him
Simon Reeve: Yes, I think he is an extraordi-
narily dangerous individual who could launch
forces against his neighbors in the future just as
he has done in the past. Trouble is, like any
wounded animal, he'll be most dangerous when
cornered. So the United States and its allies
could now be provoking him into using weapons
of mass destruction.
I also agree with the Bush administration that
there are links between Iraq and terrorist groups.
But there are links between several countries,
such as Pakistan and Qatar, and terrorist groups
including al-Qaida, and nobody is talking about
I simply don't accept the basic notion that
tackling Iraq in this fashion will help to prevent
future terrorist attacks and will save American
and Western lives. I think this war will achieve
the opposite, and in the longterm could be disas-
trous for the United States and its Western allies.
TMD: How credible is the threat of imminent
terrorist attack upon U.S. soil?
SR: There is a strong likelihood that terrorists
will try to launch another major apocalyptic ter-
ror attack in the United States within the next
few years. I cannot tell you exactly when it will
occur, but I don't think anyone should doubt that
even now al-Qaida will be plotting more atroci-
TMD: Do you feel that the Bush administra-
tion had Iraq on its agenda before Sept. 11?
-SR: I don't think the Bush administration was
taking any interest in Iraq at all before Septem-
ber 11. But those attacks have made the U.S.
government realize that it can't just isolate the
country from the rest of the world. The United
States needs to engage with troubled countries,
get involved and make a difference.
TMD: Precisely what type of reaction is to be
expected from the Arab world?
SR: The Arab world is already reacting
extremely negatively to the invasion of Iraq. The
British government are finally realizing that
resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict is the single
most effective step they could take to discourage
and prevent terrorist attacks on the West by al-
Qaida and affiliated groups.
I believe they will have to launch a major new
initiative to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict
when the fighting ends in Iraq.
Currently, the West is still not doing enough
to address this cancerous conflict. Europeans
were prime movers in creating the problem in
the first place (by annihilating European Jewry
and thus encouraging the creation of the Israeli
state in 1948), and yet they are doing nothing to
force the two sides to the negotiating table. It is
an utter disgrace and a criminal neglect of duty.
TMD: Is there any substantial proof that war
in the Gulf will be waged in order to protect
Israel from Saddam?
SR: I don't think America is going after Sad-
dam to protect Israel. America is going after
Saddam to protect America. And that's perfectly
normal behavior for a major power.
However Israel has certainly been talking up
the dangers posed by Saddam to encourage the
West to tackle him.
TMD: In your view, what are the true motives
that are propelling this war?
SR: I think most of the powers involved truly
believe that Saddam and the Iraqi regime poses a
threat to them now or in the future. But that
doesn't mean they are right. And of course there
are other issues involved, including oil, xenopho-
bic fear and distrust of Islam.
TMD: How does this campaign fit in with the
war on terror and Sept. 11?
SR: It is hard to see how Gulf War II is an
integral part of the war on terror. The Iraqi
regime certainly has links to terrorists and in the
future it may pose a threat to the West. But Sad-
dam has been successfully contained for several
years, and other countries also have strong links
to terror groups including al-Qaida.
A full-scale invasion of Iraq is exceptionally
dangerous and could result in a wave of massive
terror strikes on the West. One of my main prob-
lems with this war is that it is simply not the best
way of saving innocent lives by stopping future
There should be a much greater emphasis on
resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the most
important cause of international terrorism, before
recruits for their cause.
Even in Europe, hardline preachers are deliv-
ering increasingly fiery sermons about Iraq
which are drawing young men into the arms of
terror groups such as al-Qaida.
Al-Qaida and other militant organizations
ignore the atrocities perpetrated by Saddam
against his own people, and instead see this as
yet another example of the West attacking Mus-
lims. It will be very hard to counter that view,
particularly if the war is not over in a couple of
weeks, or if there are heavy civilian casualties.
In many ways, a new war in the Gulf will be a
win-win situation for Osama bin Laden and his
men. I think Gulf War II could be just what al-
Qaida needs to attract new recruits and regener-
ate itself after a series of setbacks for the group
and after a number of its senior operatives have
TMD: How is the Middle East divided over
SR: The Middle East is always hopelessly
divided at the best of times.
Most leaders in the region are now afraid that
if they fail to support the United States in the war
on terror they could be next for the chop. But
they also fear the reaction from their people if
they are seen to be helping the United States
wage war on a Muslim nation.
Most people in the Middle East recognize that
Saddam is an evil dictator, but they also believe
the West is hypocritical and targeting Muslims.
And they are furious that nobody is doing any-
thing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
including their own leaders.
TMD: What would be the likely conse-
quences if American and British troops occupied
Iraq during the installation of a new govern-
SR: It all depends how long the war lasts and
how U.S. and British troops are seen by the Iraqi
people. If they are seen as invaders bent on
destroying Iraq then clearly there is going to be
anger and hatred. It would be far better if the
"invading" army was withdrawn as quickly as
possible and replaced by peace-keepers who
could ensure there were free and fair elections.
TMD: Will American and British troops face
armed resistance from Iraqis and any anti-Amer-
SR: Quite possibly. The Iraqi people are
heavily armed, and it is likely there will be
r" _~ -