Letter to the Editor: How Can We Heal?

To the editor:

A pair of opinions articles published in a recent issue of The Bucknellian reflecting on the legacy and lessons of the attacks of Sept. 11 touched on an issue that, in my opinion, is the most critical to the future security of our country—the deep flaws in our nation’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes the remembrance of an event as tragic as the attacks 10 years ago to call attention to the matter. After reading Gabriella’s piece and Amanda’s response, I’d like to address a fundamental disagreement I have with the Editor.

The view that the true motivation for our involvement in the Middle East was “to ensure the future domestic security of our nation from extremists … that espouse beliefs that are fundamentally in opposition to the United States and the American way of life” may very well have been the intention of some policy makers, but the results of our actions could not bring us further from such a goal. For the better part of the 20th century to the modern day, our actions in the Middle East have led to the region’s instability and only serves to make us less secure. I’d like to cite our history with Iran as a prominent example of such unsound policy that will be extremely relevant to the future of our own generation.

The 1979 hostage crisis in which Islamist students took control of the American Embassy in Tehran, holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days marks what many people view as the beginning of our acerbic relationship with Iran. It was 26 years earlier, however, that conflict began. It was in this year that Operation Ajax, a coup d’état orchestrated by the American CIA and British MI6, overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed Mohammad Shāh Pahlavi, a pro-U.S. dictator. It was during the Shah’s 25-year rule (upheld by U.S. support) that anti-American resentment throughout the Middle East was cultivated. Our CIA helped to create SAVAK, an Iranian secret police that was used to instill fear in the hearts of dissenting Iranians. SAVAK imprisoned and tortured the Shah’s political enemies. Near the end of his reign, the Shah ordered troops to massacre protesters, an event that would spark the fire of the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis a year later.

Though it would be horrible to suggest that we were responsible for the attacks on our fellow Americans then or 10 years ago, or somehow invited or deserved them, it is no great mystery why radical Islamists are upset. They do not hate us because we are free or because they oppose our “way of life.” They target us because our government has meddled in their nation’s affairs and sovereignty for over a half century with often-injurious results to both sides. It’s time we looked seriously at the justifications given for our action in the Middle East and realize that we are no safer for it. We are only more endangered as we continue to invade, bomb and intervene in the Middle East. Every day our actions produce more extremist militants who see our actions as an attack on their way of life and independence. We must realize even as we celebrate the murder (Gabriella was right here) of Osama bin Laden, he has in several ways accomplished exactly what he wanted. Our government’s faulty response to the attacks on our country has led us to spend a total of $1.2 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the unconstitutional “time-limited, scope-limited military action” under our newest war president. Just as militant Islamists sought to bleed-out the Soviets in Afghanistan, they now seek to have us spend our way into financial ruin in several unsustainable wars. The attacks have frenzied us so that we are now starting to give up what makes America truly great—our founding principles. We turn the rule of law on its head by giving our president the authority to decide who deserves to die and order an operation to kill rather than capture and give due process to a criminal. What would have been so horrible about executing bin Laden after a trial that would have surely found him guilty? Instead we delve deeper into a foreign policy that may well lead us into a sixth needless war in the Middle East. Our generation should be concerned. There is still time to show the world how great America truly is. There is still time to heal.

–Scott Lunde

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