Every morning on my way into work I pass several newspaper stands, with headlines fanning the war fervor flames. Whether its Iraq or North Korea’s latest mess, or Powell’s attempts to sway the UN, our front pages swarm the rhetorical; engaging our fears of an uncertain world that exists beyond our superficial borders.
The headlines that I glance at typically say more about our foreign policy than I ever realized. If one only read such headings they would have to wonder how Iraq could be more dangerous than North Korea, seeing as how their missiles can't reach us. Or despite U.N. member countries and NATO splitting on war, why Iraq is still the only country in Bush’s cross hairs?
But headlines are only meant to provoke the reader into a deeper personal dialogue with perpetual fear. Much of which is completely justified. We truly are not safer than we were prior to those horrible attacks on New York in 2001. But what the headlines won’t encourage us to question is whether going to war will actually make our homeland more secure.
Just last Friday President Bush raised the Homeland Security threat level to Orange, the highest level we've seen since New York was attacked. Raising the level may be justified, but does the level really say anything to civilians other than, “be afraid?” If anything it should raise the questions as to why we are not attempting harder to rid the US of terrorists. More specifically, how attacking Iraq will make our homeland safer, when common sense, as well as the CIA, tells us that such an attack may well spark more terror on Americans at home and abroad.
The perpetuated status-quo pressed by our daily news pundits reflects a common misnomer among the masses in America- that we can do no wrong, that our leaders know best, that terrorists are simply religious fanatics who are jealous of our freedoms. Those headlines do not question policy, or lay out probable reasons for anti-American sentiment that much of the world fosters.
For example no major headlines spouted the horrific Clinton bombings in 1998 of a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, which was destroyed in retaliation for the alleged Bin Laden car bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Clinton’s rationale fed right into Bin Laden’s hands- and only escalated hatred for the US in the region. The plant was supposedly producing chemical weapons, but it only was the producer of drugs that the Sudan desperately needed- the toll of victims still unknown. Did the headlines read, “US Bombs Pharmaceutical Plant, Bin Laden's Jihad Against US Immanent?” Of course not. Our leaders know best. Clinton knew best.
Retaliation was necessary. Right? Unfortunately this well-known example is only one of many our history offers, where violence and terror are cyclical malfunctions of US policy, never questioned unless we could be the victims.
I believe these questions must be raised and debated. Will bombing Iraq, which will inevitably kill innocents, make us safer? Will Jihad against US citizens end once we oust Saddam? Is Bin Laden no longer a threat? Or will the headlines continue to convert the Westerners who will never be spoon-fed the underbelly of United States empirical policy. The headlines will only draw on notions that others are fanatical, religiously at that, angry at our freedoms, not our policy that often involves bombing innocents by mistake.
The headlines will keep the fires of war burning- our fears escalating- hotter with every new alert level.
We are no safer. No less hated than before.
It just all seems like a calamity to me.
We better start stocking our shelves.
Josh Frank is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org