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March 20, 2005

Using Compassion, Not Guns to Stop Terrorism

After 911, the world loved Americans out of sympathy for our loss. And then we started invading countries, legalizing torture, and pulling out of every international convention we could, leading to a far higher level of dislike for the US than before 911. People who can kill using only boxcutters are not opponents that can be destroyed by military means.

Which makes the initiative by families of 911 victims to build international solidarity among different groups of terror victims around the world so encouraging. In one sense, it approaches the world with a bit of humility that our suffering on 911 was not unique:

"It would be the height of arrogance for the 9/11 families to think that our experience is so unique that it isn't connected to victims beyond our borders," said Thomas Rogér, one of the founders of Families of September 11, whose daughter Jean was a flight attendant on the hijacked plane that hit the north tower.
But such a movement of solidarity inevitably forces people to deal with how the rest of the world sees US actions that kill civilians-- as a form of state terrorism meant to force those populations to do our country's will. The US government wants to hold out for a definition of "terrorism" that includes only those who kill American civilians or its allied populations, but a more global view demands that we address chronic violence fed also by US force. As long as double standards on violence are promoted by the US and its allies, so too will extremist Islamic terrorists find sympathy for their actions as only returning violence for violence.

Posted by Nathan at March 20, 2005 08:34 AM