The Mail

The Mail

October 22 2001
The Mail

The Mail

October 22 2001

The Mail

Many voices in the world blame America, or a general process of Western economic policy in a sweeping and non-specific way, for the destruction of the World Trade Center, but this is dangerously confusing the issue. We need to look at specific motivations at specific levels. At the top, it could be said that this was, for Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, all about power: political (to have followers), or economic (bin Ladens possible stock market speculations prior to the attack and his organizations ongoing drug and money-laundering operations). He is not the first ruthless man to wish to be a king. For the radical clerics of the Taliban, however, there is something personally dangerous about globalization: these clerics sense that their medievalism cannot long survive the onslaught of glob-

Looking for reasons alization, just as the grim Puritan clerics of the Salem witch trials in 17th-century America feared change. Make no mistake, there is a clash of cultures here, but it is not Christians against Muslims, it is the modern versus the medieval. ChristopherT. Cairney, Istanbul

Insisting on a connection between terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism conveniently clouds deeper issues, leaving globalization an innocent bystander. A religious approach simply feeds a Western desire to envision the East as exotic and primitive, justifying our dominance. The real issue is differential access to wealth and power. From Belfast to Beirut, we are witnessing class conflict couched in terms of ethnicity.

Chris Moxham, Grand Bend, Ont.

Muslim leaders here in Canada have complained of ostracism towards Muslim minorities. It is the same ostracism religious minorities (Christian or others) are victims of in Muslim countries. I know of a Salvation Army pastor having to flee a Muslim country, his life having been threatened. This is where our Western diplomacy fails.

Michel Gaudette, Trois Rivières, Que.

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When people use this terrorist attack as a pretext to blame all the worlds problems on religion, they denigrate Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. They overlook the genocidal acts perpetrated by atheistic communists that have impoverished, enslaved and slaughtered tens of millions; they ignore daily acts of theft, violence, rape and murder that have nothing to do with God or religion but everything to do with human selfishness. And they fail to acknowledge the amazing contributions others have made because of their faith in God, such as ending slavery and establishing schools and hospitals.

Joe Prochazka, Oshawa, Ont.

Is the cause good?

Alliances can appear misplaced from a future vantage point, as indicated by Barbara Amiel (“Terrorisms real ‘root cause,’ ” Oct. 8). But I take exception to the view that a cause should lose support because terrorism was used in its defence. If a terrorist act is committed in the name of democracy, does that mean democracy should not be supported? Motivation to commit a terrorist act must be targeted. If we subdue the extremist’s motivation to act, then we disarm the weapon at its real root.

Jack Kerkhof, Calgary

Military support

For eight years, Scott Taylor, editor of Esprit de Corps, has doggedly clung to the same message about corruption, neglect and rustout in the Canadian Forces. IfTaylor is as concerned about budgetary and recruiting shortfalls as he suggests in his article (“ ‘Threadbare and patched,’ ” Special Report, Oct. 8), perhaps he should take a look at his own role in shaping Canadian defence matters in the past decade. Taylors constant media barrage has done much to destroy any political will that may have existed to significantly increase the size and power of the Canadian Forces. His message has no doubt discouraged some young Canadians from entering into military service. If the Forces were in the kind of shape that Taylor suggests, they would not have been able to successfully accomplish the difficult and complex missions this nation has asked them to perform in the past 10 years. Perhaps if Taylor and the rest of the defence community spent more time celebrating those achievements, recruits and government spending would be more forthcoming.

Lee Windsor, Fredericton

The military personnel I have known are all professionals and proud of what they do. How disgraceful that they are representing our country on the world stage with equipment that is so decrepit that it is often more of a threat to the operators than to any potential enemy. I would like to see a box at the bottom of our tax returns that allows us to contribute all or part of our refunds to the armed forces. How ridiculous that we can receive tax credits for donating to a political party and not for a national institution that is in serious need of our help.

Gord Anderson, Waterdown, Ont.

Pacifism’s dangers

Were no history lessons learned from the horrific events of the past century? “Pacifism and dialogue,” as proclaimed by contributor Ali Hossaini (“At war with oneself,” Over to You, Oct. 1), was epitomized by Britain’s prime minister Neville Chamberlain in that now-infamous statement “peace for our time.” Millions of people were killed in the years prior to and during the Second World War. Among others, at least 12 million Jewish and non-Jewish innocents were murdered by the Nazis before Europe’s war ended. And approximately eight million civilian Chinese were killed, often brutally tortured beforehand, by Imperial Japanese soldiers in the late 1930s, while the world stood by. Pacifism, along with ignorance and denial, allowed Stalin to starve to death a similar number of Ukrainians in the early to mid-1930s. Did all those Canadian soldiers who were killed in the Second World War die in vain? No, they died so that Canadian pacifists could organize rallies extolling the virtues of pacifism and dialogue.

M. J. Drozd, Edmonton

Ready for what?

The cover of your Oct. 1 issue proclaims loudly “America’s ready. Are the rest of us?” Without trying to belittle the tragedy in New York City and Washington, I would ask exactly what is America ready for? Was America prepared on Sept. 11 when it allowed 19 terrorists to board U.S. flights within the space of a few minutes? Was America prepared over the previous several months when these terrorists routinely travelled in and out of the United States, attended flight schools and participated in other activities preparing themselves for their mission? America had let its guard down. The terrorists didn’t slip through the Canadian immigration system, which is so often likened to a sieve by some American politicians and others. They went straight through the American sieve. America may find that the only way to combat this menace effectively will be to eliminate the root cause, which to many in the underdeveloped world is American foreign policy. I don’t see a lot of indication that America is even beginning to recognize that fact.

Stan Shepherd, North Vancouver

Here in our area of Saskatchewan, we regularly have hunters from the United States at this time of the year. Those with whom we have spoken have, in explanation of the massive deployment of regular troops against a country still in the Stone Age, responded with: “Well, we have to do something, we can’t just sit there and take it.” We should not be locked into accepting the response of a country that can’t take the time to strategize a reasoned and thoughtful approach before launching into war. How does a bully come to terms with himself? How can the world “bell the cat”?

Dale Dewar, Wynyard, Sask.

Although he was a Liberal, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau knew how to deal with terrorists and cowards (or bleeding hearts). As much as some of us hated him, he had good old-fashioned guts. Our current Prime Minister, with his wimpy foreign policy, has shown us over and over that he has no guts at all.

Corey Caponera, Calgary

Terrorism and Israel

I am amazed at the ease with which Barbara Amiel managed to dismiss the role that terrorism played in the creation of the state of Israel (“Terrorism’s real ‘root cause,’ ” Oct. 8). So, the Haganah “fought the Jewish terrorists who were using violence to try and get the British out of Palestine.” Interesting. Has Amiel heard of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir? They were two successful Jewish terrorists whose activities hastened the departure of the British from Palestine. Incidentally, both later became prime ministers of Israel.

Anahid Melikian, Winnipeg

People who say the U.S. helped to create Osama bin Laden do not, as Barbara Amiel claims, think America should “shut up and reap what it sows.” We do, however, think in the future the U.S. should look beyond its immediate goals when dealing with politically volatile nations like Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps some good can come out of this abominable tragedy if America remembers there are serious consequences to choosing sides in a foreign conflict between cultures it doesn’t know or understand.

Curtis Harvie, Ottawa

A matter of perspective

Columnist Donald Coxe has been infected by George W. Bush’s black-andwhite rhetoric of “you are either with us, or with the terrorists” (“Scenario A, or worse,” Oct. 8). He suggests that anyone who will not thank the U.S. and its allied “good guys” when they eventually claim victory must be a supporter of the terrorists. It is scary to see how the events of Sept. 11 and the ensuing media campaign have turned any criticism directed towards the U.S. into a sacrilege. In claiming “the 1990s were the longest period of good times” since the First World War, Coxe might be right from the view of most Western nations. However, if he asked Afghanistan, Rwanda or Sudan, to name only a few, he might get a different answer. Sabine Schuerholz-Lehr, Duncan, B.C.

Measuring up to Foth

So, “the government is stupid and the public is naïve,” according to Allan Fotheringham (“One is a lonely number,” Oct. 8). If the media would do a better job of informing the public about this stupidity instead of endeavouring to present their actions so they appear stupid, perhaps we might measure up to Fotheringham’s high level of perception.

Ben Fear, Guelph, Ont.

“One is a lonely number” setdes it: Fotheringham for prime minister. Or would he be allergic to loneliness?

D.T. Bath, Peterborough, Ont.