Get the facts, then make an educated decision
Tuesday October 9, 2001
As Americans, we should reserve the right to criticize the recent attacks on Afghanistan. It is a mistake of the highest order to close our eyes and blindly accept our administration's decisions concerning retaliation. It is not only our right, but our duty to consider, judge, approve or criticize every move our nation makes.
It is also our right to praise the government for its actions if we have reason to do so. As Americans, we should neither condemn nor praise the government's actions without first informing ourselves of the reasoning behind its actions. We must not ally ourselves along social, religious or political party lines for purposes of solidarity only. This is not a local election, where taking the party line is acceptable.
Rather, we must prove ourselves to be educated, wise and practical in a time when emotion tends to get the best of many of us.
The United States originally labeled its retaliation "Infinite Justice." It quickly rescinded the decision and renamed it "Enduring Freedom." This was the right move. "Infinite Justice," as the Muslim-Americans who complained said, suggests that our nation arrogantly believes that every action it makes is just; it also suggests that the American people believe that our nation's actions are just - even though, according to the Koran, only God judges what is justice.
Assuming that America is the judge of justice is an infinitely terrible mistake to make.
Without a doubt, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks deserved a response. The most intelligent statement made recently about the situation came from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said, "The world understands that whilst, of course, there are dangers in acting, the dangers of inaction are far, far greater."
A response is necessary. Retaliation is necessary.
But to what degree?
The current situation draws comparison to World War II. The attack on the World Trade Center has been compared, logically, to Pearl Harbor, and the ensuing war and ethical issues have drawn forced parallels to the American response to Axis powers. It is too soon to make these parallels. World War II was a just war because nations - entire nations - were determined to see America and its allies fall. These nations dedicated their efforts to genocide and totalitarianism. The American response to Hitler's aggression was just, and that statement is historically supportable.
Only history will decide if this war is just.
This war brims with contradiction. It is not a war of good against evil, although our government says otherwise. It is about the scared and angry against the demented fearless. President George W. Bush said, "We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail."
These are words of strength, patriotism and determination, but we need to realize that we may waiver, we are already tired, we may falter and - if our objective is to save our country from another terrorist attack - we may indeed fail.
We must realize that by dropping bombs and invading third-world nations, we create the atmosphere of terror, hate and hopelessness that fuels those who would strike our country.
On the other hand, pacifism is not a realistic policy either. Appeasement has proven itself to be a terrible mistake that allows for more aggression, while unchecked rage and blind acceptance are mistakes just as damaging to our nation.
The decision to go to war polarized our nation, and it may polarize the University of Arizona campus. Extreme stances at either pole, no matter the argument, are unwarranted and counterproductive. As college students, the educated youth of this country, we have an obligation to analyze this situation independently. Unbridled patriotism and uninformed pacifism do nothing to help this country.
The best way to support this nation is to inform yourself. Do not let others inform you. Judge for yourself. And do not blindly accept the judgments of others. We should be able to hear and understand the plurality of opinions before we decide on our own.
As the nation's educated people, it is our duty to obtain the facts and then make our decisions - not the other way around.
Staff editorials are the collaborative stance of the Arizona Daily Wildcat opinions board.