Do We Blame America First?

It will not surprise our readers to learn that we here at Magniloquence Against War have received quite a bit of hate mail since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We've been accused of everything from being socialists to living in Berkeley (for the record, our contributors have never advocated socialism or even discussed socialism in any of their essays, and they live in Tennessee, North Carolina and Michigan, not Berkeley). My personal favorite arrived just this morning, accusing us of that grand old Cold War crime: blaming America first.

irregular actionYou socialists are just a bunch of wierdos that have no place in our country. Haven't you read history? You have to pledge allegience to the flag, and God to which it stands! Your always blaming America first for everything that happens - a bunch of blame-America-firsters. I hate you. God bless America! In God We Trust!

Wow. How does one argue against such emphatic eloquence? Well, let's give it a shot. First of all, let me admit that the people behind Irregular Times and Magniloquence Against War are indeed a bunch of wierdos, and proudly so. In fact, we think that our proclivity for the wierd makes the United States of America a perfect place for us to live. You see, in the United States, there's a Constitution that protects the right of all citizens to express their ideas, no matter how far outside the cultural mainstream those ideas are located. What is wierdness, after all, but the disagreement with those who prefer to blend into the crowd?

What about this reader's other accusation, that we blame America first for "everything that happens", especially the September 11 attacks? Bunk. We do not blame America first. In fact, we never blame America at all.

  1. We blame the hijackers first.
  2. We blame the organization that planned the attacks and prepared the hijackers for their mission second.
  3. We blame the supporters of that organization third.
  4. We blame the social and economic conditions that contribute to support for that organization fourth.
  5. We blame the aspects American foreign policy that contribute to those conditions fifth.
  6. We blame the American Central Intelligence Agency, who provided the leaders of the organization behind the attacks with high-tech weaponry and training in military strategy and sabotage sixth.
  7. We blame American politicians, including Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush, who approved the gifts of military training and weapons to the organization behind the attacks and developed the foreign policies that contribute to the social and economic conditions underlying support for that organization seventh.
  8. We blame the American citizens who voted for those politicians eighth.

Sociologists talk about how all humans on the face of the Earth are related by a maximum of 6 degrees of separation. We at Magniloquence Against War go even further than that in our chain of blame, with 8 degrees of blame separating a particular bloc of American voters from the September 11 attacks.

We never blame America in general, because that would be simplistic. Some aspects of American foreign policy, some American politicians, and some American voters share a part of the blame for the September 11 attacks. However, it's clear to us that the hijackers and their direct supporters carry the biggest share of the blame, and we believe that these people should be brought, in a lawful manner, to justice.

The American public will, however, share the ultimate blame for future attacks if it fails to learn from the mistakes of the past. Even now, the present Bush administration is planning to collaborate with what it admits are "shady characters" in Afghanistan, including the Northern Alliance rebels. The Northern Alliance has the virtue of opposing the repressive Taliban, infamous for their reign of terror. However, the Northern Alliance has a history of terror of its own, including mass rapes and murders of civilians during their occupation of Kabul a few years back. There's no reason to believe that the Afghans of the Northern Alliance would be any less likely to condone attacks against the United States than the Taliban are now. There is every reason to believe that the Northern Alliance would be as just as brutal in their rule of Afghanistan as the Taliban. Nonetheless, the current Bush administration plans to give the Northern Alliance military training and support, treating them as valued allies. It's quite likely that many eager anti-American militants will be nurtured through this plan.

There's nothing that we can do to correct the mistakes of the past. We can't bring the Twin Towers back, and we can't raise the victims from the dead. Nor can we retroactively rescind the military training the CIA provided to Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban back in the 1980s. Blame is irrelevant unless we learn from our mistakes. The American practice of strengthening dangerous militants around the world in order to further its short-term international interests must stop now, or new generations of enemies will emerge to threaten us for years to come.

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