2001, An-Nahar, Articles

Americans: Judges of the earth? / 22.09.2001

We were among those who sincerely mourned the thousands of victims that felled on the 11th of September, an absurd death, similar to the daily death of Iraqi children. This death comes as a result of abhorrence to the “Absolute Giant”, and paid its consequence those innocents living in the Giant’s land. This absurd death saddened me, and soon turned to become an alarming fear for the fate of threatened family members and friends living there. I prayed that a death like this might die forever. Mayhap America can now dream of a new life for its own and for others too.

Since I wrote this article and meanwhile it will be published, this nation might choose to go the way of vengeance. If it were proven, that vengeance could stop violence, then, this should have been obvious since Cain killed his brother in the beginning of history. Collective death could result, since it shall be almost impossible for the US to arrest the perpetrator, in that thousands of innocents could soon be exterminated, to say what? And if the regime, where the perpetrator is hiding, is found to be responsible for hosting him, can the US annihilate the people of that hosting country; does America want to do that? Is it possible for a great nation, a nation absolute in its greatness, to avenge, in its bitterness, by wiping innocent peoples? Is this a justice or a reaction? Isn’t this same reaction that is generating the forces of revolt in the weakened nations – who will try some day to break their way out of their miserable situation through what is called terrorism – trying to avenge their wounded dignity? Is a dialogue still possible between the strong and the miserable of the earth? Who did arm, in the first place, those miserable that the US is going to annihilate? Does the destruction of the poor produce peace?

It seems now that the “Clash of civilizations”, as depicted by Samuel Huntington, is underway. The problem of such terminology is that, that terrorism is not restricted to one civilization: it was German, Japanese, and for a period of time American (within America itself), Muslims then, do not monopolize terrorism. But why the US is not asking itself for the reasons that pushed those miserable to what it identifies as terrorism? Aren’t prejudice, depravedness, and political oppression behind these actions, even though wars have become impossible between the earth’s nations? Since the little aspire to be liberated from dominion, and since their means of liberty are in the hands of the big, why then doesn’t these strong hands stretch out for sincere cooperation and help, free from all forms of humiliation, until the groan of the miserable is appeased?

America may lead an overwhelming campaign for a while, but how can it eradicate the spots of terrorism all over the planet? Will it strike all nations it categorized as exporters of terrorism? Will it not consider that these same nations will come out again from the rubbles, their greave multiplied and their hatred concentrated, re-entering in a vicious and diabolical unbreakable cycle of violence?

And if “terrorism”, “Arabs”, and “Muslims” have become synonyms in western mind, aren’t we re-entering a renewed and endless Crusade, based upon two fairytales? First, that the West is Christian, and second, that Islam, in its essence, is exporter of war and terror. Will not this lead to the belief, among Muslim groups, that Christians (wherever they might reside) are allies of the west and therefore friends of the state of Israel? Political and cultural Islam must stand on its feet through understanding, creativity and prosperity in all their aspects, in order to eliminate the danger of Crusades; because its continuing path, of poverty and feebleness, is triggering its counter-Crusade path or Jihad in Muslim terminology, and of which, Islam is not capable. And if Islam was humiliated beyond reason, it will be pressed to suicidal stands, which, in its own terminology, is called martyrdom. In front of such a predictable madness, the West may prove to be fragile and impatient, contrary to Islam, and this Crusade will soon abolish itself in the same manner the Crusades of the Middle Ages were overthrown from our countries. The Western European alliance with the US, in addition to Russia, is enough to permanently convince all Muslims (not only conservatives) that Christianity, in its essence, is enemy of Islam and opposed to the freedom of Moslem nations, then we shall witness a renewed colonialism, even after that the forms of the old one have vanished.

Before World War Two, we believed, in a way or another, in the missionary role of the US calling for freedom and democracy. This picture has been shaken a lot, and possibly terminally, in Palestine, Africa and former Yugoslavia—we now witness the nations of Lincoln and Yeltsin employing Realpolitik—not shying from disclosing that they look after their foreign interests and, consequently, they enter this or that conflict accordingly. The scale of justice is no longer supported and even this doesn’t need to be proved in historical Palestine. Will the US feel that it is called to change its stand, after the last tragedy, to become anew a judge not a party in the conflict? Will not this make of it stronger and more respectable and a hope for the nations of the earth?

This “burst of vengeance” may be excused if it is limited in space, this may limit some terrorists for a while. But anger shouldn’t last, because, in a later stage, it consumes itself. For America’s sake, I think it better looks to conclude a new era of world peace. The truly great nation can conclude such peace, through justice and help.

Perhaps, the American behavior in the world is inspired by the second verse of the 26th chapter of Isaiah, as inscribed on the entrance of Harvard University: “Open the gates, that the righteous nation… may enter in”, but the full verse continues: “which keeps the truth”. America is convinced that it holds the “truth”, or what it claims to be its truth, enabling it to enter the gates of knowledge to rule the world. I even remember that President Clinton stating something in this context. Power facilitates such a rule, with or without truth. It is obvious that the founding fathers [of America] believed that the New World, which they immigrated to, is their second Promised Land, a land of blessings; and most Americans today, still believe, that financial riches are divine blessings.

It is not evident that American rulers have read the gospel, which strictly cautions against mammon and foremost against dominion. Most assuredly, typical Americans did not read ascetic literature, which cautions us from monopolizing wealth. Which leads us to the American world philosophy: “if a powerful authority can be successfully overlaid in an American context, why can’t this authority, be overlaid in a worldwide context? All sorts of protest and revolution can be subdued through pro-US regimes, who benefit originally from oppressing their own peoples and who continue exiting through American supportive politics.”

But one must read history and learn how kingdoms have felled: “Say: O Allah, Master of the Kingdom! Thou givest the kingdom to whomsoever Thou pleasest and takest away the kingdom from whomsoever Thou pleasest, and Thou exaltest whom Thou pleasest and abasest whom Thou pleasest in Thine hand is the good; surety, Thou hast power over all things” (The Family of Imran verse 26). It seems Americans didn’t read the Koran verse. But they must have read the psalms: “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth” (Ps 2:10). The problem is that Americans have set themselves “judges of the earth”, establishing their own custom justice, not the_Justice, whenever they wanted and referring solely to themselves. The missionary days of President Roosevelt are gone when Americans believed they needed to establish a United Nations organization, responsible for achieving world justice, until, they discovered they can do without it whenever it was necessary; Moreover, they also decided that Israel can dismiss all UN resolutions, because Israel too, has set itself, or was appointed by the Americans, “judge of the Middle East”.

I beseech God, for the US to continue prospering in wealth, science and technology which it promotes, and for God to lead it to the true path of meekness, in which it may discover that no one has appointed it “judge of the earth”. Mayhap this terrible catastrophe, which hurt us as well, inspires it the wisdom of modesty, and mayhap it commences counting itself along the same line of other nations, without haughtiness, and may it start restraining from punishing others, lest punishment may fell upon it.

May America keep its wealth and may God increase its riches, but may it never become prideful. May it prosper and may we prosper too, which requires from it a great deal of self-restraint while employing its power. No one is expecting the US to become a charitable organization, but we expect from it not to underestimate our right to existence and that, we too, have the right to live. We don’t want to humiliate the US, because this is called hatred, but what benefit the US shall gain if it “shall gain the whole world, and lose its own soul?”

If on the contrary, America begins employing all its might in the service of the miserable of the earth, terrorism shall vanish and, God grant, love shall reign.

Translated by Father Symeon AbouHaidar

Original Text: “الأميركيون قضاة الأرض؟ ” – 22.09.2001

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