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April 18, 2003

Murdering our Own Safety Globally

Along with destroying the legacy of 7000 years of history in Iraq, the war is also decimating the ability of American researchers to study history worldwide. Hostility to Americans has risen to such a point that ordinary scientists and scholars are now unwelcome in countries around the world:

Experts say the war has caused the greatest interruption of overseas study since World War II, forcing the cancellation or postponement of hundreds of expeditions researching everything from Islamic law to the bone knives used by ancient butchers.

"I can't remember when research has been disrupted across such a wide region," said Dr. Stone, who teaches at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "The war has left a very wide footprint."

Many professors with long experience in the region fear it could be years before hostilities subside enough to allow researchers from the United States to operate overseas as they have in the past.

"Only in the best case will conditions for research ever be as good as in the past," said Philip D. Gingerich, a University of Michigan paleontologist who has dug for ancient whale skeletons in Pakistan since the early 1970's. "Anti-American feelings have grown so strong in these populations that unquestionably it will now be more dangerous to work in many areas."

In the wake of 911, there were tentative questions asked about "Why do they hate us?" in the simplistic phrase of the day, but in the name of the "war on terrorism", we have made every day life more dangerous for Americans at home and abroad by stoking more hate against the US.

In recent weeks, no doubt responding to rising terror alerts, I've been disconcerted to see army soldiers standing guard with full weaponry at my local subway. At home and abroad, Bush is plunging us into a militarized world where Americans will only be safe under armed guard. It's hard to believe that back in 1999 I wandered for eight weeks on the streets of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Egypt without feeling a twinge of fear or hostility from the people I met. I remember the friendly shopkeepers of Aleppo in Syria inviting me in for a small meal or the school kid in Damascus wanting to practice his English with me, meeting with Fatah unionists in Nablus or other random folks in Cairo-- all were so friendly and welcoming.

And now ordinary scientists fear to work with colleagues of decades around the world. This is the idiocy of unilateral militarism.

Posted by Nathan at April 18, 2003 02:34 PM

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I've actually decided they want turn us into Sharon's Israel. Hell, it worked for Sharon.

Posted by: John Isbell at April 18, 2003 04:06 PM

"This is the idiocy of unilateral militarism."
-Nathan Newman

Everytime I hear you say this I just laugh. Ever heard of Poland, England, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, etc.? I think its officially 49-lateral now, isn't it?
-Robert S. Morgan

Posted by: Robert S. Morgan at April 18, 2003 10:29 PM

Yeah, don't forget Micronesia!

Posted by: Harold at April 18, 2003 11:15 PM

Robert, the only nations truly committed to the war effort with us are Great Britain and Australia. Trilateralism (does that work?) may be a more accurate term regarding Iraq, but the arrogance of the Bush administration is simply its own. The leaders of those nations do not nearly match the mentality of many in the US. The rest of the world just wishes us well and realizes that if war is going to happen, we might as well not mess things up too badly. Hell, 49 nations isn't even the rest of the world, and that doesn't even consider the actual opinions of citizens. For the sake of accuracy, approximately 4.97 billion people aren't represented by these countries if we assume a world population of 6.2 billion. You can bet Dubya appreciates the support from the 207,000 residents of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands though. If we can get Tuvalu, Nauru, and San Marino onboard we've got governments representing 49,000 more people ready to make the world safe from such hideous weapons of mass...oh wait...nevermind.

Posted by: Micah Lanier at April 19, 2003 04:58 AM

To claim this war is multi-lateral is literally true, as it was literally true for Clinton to say "There IS no relationship." But it is equally misleading.

Micah's point is accurate. In addition, it's worth noting that no nation outside of the UK and US is providing anything more than token assistance. Australia, led by a Rupert Murdoch prodigy and over the objections of the vast majority of it's populace, provided only a small number of troops. Others have provided air travel rights or perhaps the use of their air bases. None have provided money, in direct contrast to GW1 where billions ($70B? I can't remember exactly) was transferred to the US to support the war.

Of the countries listed in the coalition, many simply don't belong. New Zealand, for example, does NOT support the war without UN authorization, but has offered to assist with reconstruction. Most of the countries listed gave only tepid meaningless support out of fear of retribution from the US.

Furthermore, it takes little digging into the politics of Spain, Bulgaria, or Poland to figure out that their support of the war is based entirely on the expectation of rewards from the US.

Posted by: Z at April 19, 2003 05:55 PM

Bush's base generally does not much care for science or travel, so this means nothing to them.

It *could* get interesting when the one group that does wish to leave Mother America's borders, the proselytizing fundies, find themselves in an environment where their worldview is articulately challenged. An exchange about Operation Iraqi "Freedom" between a fresh-faced Baptist youth and a Middle Eastern Christian would be quite fascinating.

Posted by: doesn't matter at April 22, 2003 09:54 AM

Yes, it is shocking. That US people studying overseas should be inconvenienced is far too high a price to pay for ending the Ba'athist Socialist regime which gassed the people of Halabja and murdered hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis, not to mentions the Kuwaitis and Iranians killed in Saddam Hussain's wars. Is there no end to the Bushite-Blairite evil?

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at April 29, 2003 05:55 AM

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