Physicians' Perspective: Tolerance - a Fundemental Issue by Dr. Rick Bayer
How can we win this “war on terrorism”?
Before September 11th, we were spending over 300 billion dollars each year on the military. Now we are spending more. Are we safer? We need to ask some fundamental questions about continued military action by the Bush Administration.
- To win this war, must we kill every terrorist in Afghanistan, or the whole world? Is there an alternative to killing others? Pragmatically, can we kill terrorists faster than they are produced? (Realistically, is it even sane to think such thoughts?)
Have we once again substituted military power for justice? If we’d pursue justice in an international court of law, we’d support international institutions we helped create as an alternative to war.
Could we lose this war and make things worse? If the military effort is not combined with humanitarian aid, there will be wmass starvation in Afghanistan, fomenting more hatred and terrorism against the US from many corners of the Earth.
By allying with despots, how can we really help Afghanis and prevent terrorism? Our “allies” in Afghanistan, the so-called Northern Alliance, have a very poor record of human rights.
Is the so-called War on Terror an endless geopolitical adventure to impose a Pax Americana on the world? American troops are already garrisoned in 60 of some180 countries worldwide. Will we invade Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Sudan?
On the home front, civil liberties continue to be eroded while frightened non-Republicans fear being labeled unpatriotic if they disagree with Bush. The public relations mantra of the Bush Admi-nistration focuses on the violence of the 911 attack while ignoring geopolitical history; labels peacemakers as traitors; and continues “business as usual” behind the smoke screen of national security.
Since Sept. 11th, it is easy for many to forget the huge tax cuts for the wealthy, efforts to discard the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to purse “Star Wars”, efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, refusal to participate in the Kyoto agreement to prevent global warming, airline industry corporate bailouts while ignoring laid off workers, passage of the Patriot Act dealing a huge blow to American civil liberties, aggressive attacks on medical marijuana distribution efforts in California, or US Attorney General Ashcroft’s crusade against Oregon’s Death With Dignity Law.
Fundamental Observations In the last nine months I’ve observed a deranged fundamentalist Muslim criminal escalating his “holy war” against the infidel Christians. Fundamentalist Christian Reverend Falwell says god punished America because of pagans, gays, lesbians, liberals, abortionists, and the ACLU. Fundamentalist Jew, Prime Minister Sharon of Israel, uses the war as an opportunity to pursue efforts to expand borders and exterminate Palestinians. The intolerance isn’t only religious, since the single-minded pursuit of unregulated wealth, regardless of outcomes, is another type of fundamentalism —called greed. The real enemy of peace is fundamentalism.
The military-only solution risks winning a battle against Osama Bin Laden only to lose the war against terrorism. Our goal should be security for all instead of killing the latest most violent terrorist criminal. Security doesn’t begin or end with dropping bombs.
We must re-examine our foreign and domestic policy. We must prevent starvation in Afghanistan. We must end our dependence on foreign oil, remove US troops from Saudi Arabia, and end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians in a just manner. We must give hope to people stuck in refugee camps tempted to seek revenge. We must spread compassionate secular democracy that provides tolerance and respect for all religious and non-religious people. Only by following these paths can we seek true safety and security for Americans and all global citizens.
Let us not get suckered into the propaganda of the war hawks from the Bush Administration. It is patriotic to think our country is better off seeking tolerance than encouraging blind faith and fundamentalism. It is patriotic to pursue peace rather than war. It is patriotic to build rather than destroy. It is patriotic to defend civil liberties and protect our environment. In addition, it is OK for an American to disagree with his/her President.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Rick Bayer, MD is a board certified internal medicine physician who lives in Portland, OR. Check websites of Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org), Portland Peaceful Response Coalition (www.portland911.tripod.com), and American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org).