America must confront mistakes made in the war against terrorism

Recently, Yahoo News published an article on the crash of a marine plane in Afghanistan. Seven marines, aged 21 to 37, died when their plane mysteriously collided with a mountain while attempting to land at Shamsi, Pakistan, around 25 miles northeast of Panjur, Pakistan.

The marines were based in Miramar, Calif., making the tragedy hit a bit closer to home for some of us. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in his down-to-earth way, was quoted as saying, “”It just breaks your heart.””

President Bush commented as well, mentioning the prayers offered to the families of the marines, but he also concluded that the cause we are now engaged in is just and noble. The cause is freedom and this nation will not rest until it has achieved its objective.

However touching this may be to those disconnected to the wars raging in the world today, no cause can be noble and just when it costs the lives of so many others along the way. The death toll is still being tallied for the World Trade Center catastrophe, and so far it has reached nearly 3,000.

Bush seems to have a major grudge about this, and rightly so. Nevertheless, the retaliation against the infamous Taliban forces has brought more sketchy situations than solutions. There have been more than 200 deaths directly related to explosions, gunfire and raids in Afghanistan, the list consisting of civilians as well as fighting forces. The United States consistently backs itself up with reasonable suspicion regarding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and the Al Queda network.

Tony Blair, the prime minister of Great Britain, has promised the United States strong support in the efforts to bring bin Laden to justice and find an end to world terrorism, but he himself has admitted to a lack of supplies for the poor families in the war zones for the winter.

In fact, it is estimated that there is a need for more than half the current supply in order to see more than 100,000 people through the rough season ahead. Food is not the only necessity; shelter from the sub-zero temperatures might be hard to come by for those who have had their homes destroyed by misguided bombs.

This holy war seems to be drifting farther from the definition of “”holy”” every day. Americans often forget that billions of people do not have the freedoms they do as outlined in the Bill of Rights, and one may not protest discrimination as easily in places such as Somalia and India, where 12-year-old girls and younger are sold into prostitution to feed their families. These atrocities have been happening for thousands of years while Americans sit in their kitchens complaining that they want chicken instead of beef. And suddenly, when their peace is threatened, they send young marines out to track down and capture or kill the offender.

The truth is that America has had its nose in the Middle East since the early 1950s when U.S. intelligence assisted in deposing Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadeq, one of the leading advocates of nationalizing the oil industry.

The Gulf War of 1991 and Operation Desert Fox raise serious questions of purpose concerning whether our troops entered Kuwait to protect the people or more to protect our assets in the oil field. Kuwait exports $13.5 billion, mainly in petroleum. The United States is one of its main trading partners.

Politics in Israel raise issues as well; America and Israel have been allies for over 50 years. When Arab-Israeli peace negotiations became supervised by the United States in 1980-1982, Sinai settlements were the main topic of discussion. The United States urged land settlements to halt, but having assets in Israel curbed any action that might have occurred.

Settlement-building continued, and still continues today. We often lash out at the Palestinian retaliation of Jewish leadership even in the face of violent attacks by the Jews toward Palestine. Instead, a slap on the hand and a stern talking-to ensues.

What will happen now that America has called for a stop on terrorism? Of course this is a good idea, and America has done a fairly good job at calling for peace in fighting countries. With the support of our military and presidential authority, however, there can be no clear definition of what punishable terrorist acts are. A retaliation against a dominating and threatening regime might be considered terrorism to the government in question. And the United States has given quite an impression as to how leadership should treat those who have different ideas of running things.

To refer back to the war in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance is said to have killed 300 to 400 prisoners of war in Mazir-i-Sharif on Nov. 25 with the aid of U.S. air raids. The prisoners had supposedly taken over stored weapons and began to fight their way out of the fortress.

One may see the need for defending oneself against a trained, armed militant, and the call for backup from America seems reasonable.

However, a few things do not add up. First, the large number of killed prisoners could not have all gotten weapons from one storage facility. The break-in would have been too obvious, and guns are not all stored in the same room allowing for easy access. Secondly, if there were such great amounts of weaponry in the room, why was it being guarded by one Northern Alliance soldier? Thirdly, there also are accounts of some of the prisoners being tied up, so those fighting to escape couldn’t have numbered 400. The evidence toward a strong revolt is a bit shady.

As a side note, there is some question as to the unconfirmed confession of a senior officer who reportedly executed 160 Taliban captives by lining them up in groups of six and using light machine guns on them.

There has been no more word on the subject from American Intelligence. Was any of the killing done with a good reason? The stories are too weak to say either way. It seems that evidence against a massacre of the prisoners is lacking.

Are we a country responsible for freedom or fear?

Most recently, the latter has been ranking highest as families are turned from their homes and bombs explode in the dead of night.

The double standard has stood for a long time. We want to help other people and yet continue to turn them away at our borders. Empty words grow old, and citizens of this country are numb to the news of the growing number of deaths.

At this point in the game it is becoming more difficult to determine what is “”just and noble.””

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