Saving the World to Death From Itself

iraq_20060804_funeralprocession_2For some reason we Americans often feel the need to forcibly save people in third world countries from their religions or cultural beliefs and traditions by imposing our Christian-Judaic values and form of government, which even fails us, upon them.  It seems deeply engrained in our foreign policy.  We too often view their social and moral values as barbaric, morally corrupt, and inhumane.  Even in our own country we likewise view religious practices that do not conform to our social standards and moral beliefs as cults, not to be tolerated.

An example of this is our conquest of Iraq in 2002 when U.S. troops defeating Saddam Hussein’s army under the guise he posed a nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons threat to the world.  Our subsequent attempts at nation-building by democratization and imposing our form of human rights and laws upon them remains incomplete 12 years later.  Yet most Muslims want to maintain their traditional ways of life, government, customs, and beliefs.  Of course protecting commercial oil interests in the Mideast is our real agenda.

I am a strong advocate of human rights but I am opposed to changes under military threats or any forced action.  Human rights must be dispensed with the same humanity, human rights practices, compassion, and respect that is being espoused.  Otherwise it is hypocritically forced upon the unwilling vanquished with no consideration of their feelings or culture.  Change always takes time.  After all it took almost 100 years to free Blacks from slavery and another 100 years before they got equal legal civil rights.  Yet we still struggle socially to treat them as equals.

We have other examples in America where our government attempted to impose social and religious standards upon other citizens.  The Branch Davidians lead by David Koresh near Waco Texas comes to mind when the siege, by the ATF, FBI, and National Guard resulted in the deaths of 83 men, women, and children in 1993 because they were considered a dangerous Christian like cult.  It was rumored that David Koresh was having sex with children as young as 12 which is considered illegal.  I am not condoning sex with children but in ancient times it was not uncommon for 12 year old children to marry and have kids and there are still cultures where this is an accepted practice.

Another example is Jonestown formed by the Peoples Temple, considered another dangerous religious cult under the leadership of Jim Jones which settled in northwestern Guyana to escape persecution by the government in America.  This resulted in the mass murder/suicide of over 900 members in 1978 when Congressman Leo Ryan went there to investigate them.

One must wonder how different thing might be today had we simply left them alone.  It is likely most of the people who died would still be alive today especially the children who would have raised their own children by now.  According to most accounts the vast majority of people in both communities were there of their free will.

One must wonder how many more people would be alive today had the U.S. not attacked Iraq.  Iraqis are people just like us who suffer, have feelings, dreams, and aspirations.  How many innocent civilians died directly or indirectly as a result of U.S. presence in Iraq?  Perhaps tens of thousands would not have been displaced or would still be alive and whole had we not invaded their country.  How many thousands of American troops would not have died or been permanently maimed or mentally damaged had they not been placed in harms way there?

It is astounding the toll in death and destruction we have wreaked in order to save people from themselves.  Can we clam to have accomplished any lasting good?  Was all the loss of life, pain and disruptions really worth the cost and sacrifice?

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.  Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.  Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.” – Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

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