Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 6

Dr. Leahy, in speaking of the way in which security policy changed following September 11, 2001, recognized that many of the students in the room at that moment may have been too young to remember the time prior to the start of what many Americans know as the Iraq war. For those of us who do remember that day, the memories of where precisely we were may be as fresh on our minds as though they had just occurred and one can see from her lecture, that Dr. Leahy is no exception to this. Our responses to this tragedy were quite different, however. Naturally, this is first due to the fact that at the time, I was in middle school and was only vaguely familiar "middle-eastern" geography. However, the adults around me at the time seemed no less terrified and no less confused as to why this was happening. While many grasped at what pieces of understanding they imagined they had, Dr. Leahy thought up what, to this day, seems a comprehensive strategy; and of coarse, not the one that the administration took at the time. Her comprehensive three step plan consisted of the following: 1. Cut off aid to Israel until they agree to return to the terms agreed upon in the Oslo Accords, 2. Establish a marshall fund (similar to that granted to Europe after World War II) for Afghanistan in order to help them rebuild and 3. Establish a Truth in Reconciliation Commission, in which the wrongs of the United States to the Arab World could be dealt with. It is important to note here that the original example of a Truth in Reconciliation Commission was established by President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, to be led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This was a way to bring healing to the wounds caused by apartheid in South Africa and was remarkably successful. Naturally, this was not the strategy of the United States and it would likely be laughed off, Dr. Leahy noted, were it not presented in an academic institution. Perhaps it is as Alcoholics Anonymous says: the first step in solving a problem is realizing that there is one.

I am sure that the question would be asked by some, "why should Israel have anything to do with the happenings between the United States and Iraq?" This may be asked due to the fact that many Americans are not family with the extenuating circumstances surrounding the tension between the United States and the Arab World. The United States has unconditionally supported Israel; to the tune of 40% of its foreign aid budget. This aid is not going to a third-world country who could desperately use such funds, but rather to a militaristic nation who have acted as brutal occupiers of Palestine, committing many human rights violations. And Israel, says Leahy, is not the only brutal government receiving funds and weapons from the united states. These themes as well as several others were spoken of in the News Week article by Fareed Zakaria entitled Why Do They Hate Us?.  Among other reasons in the cultural exposure that the United States id responsible for, causing a sort of relative deprivation; causing many to seek a "western" lifestyle, regardless of the possibility of achieving it. The decadence of the United States has greatly influenced the attitudes of those in the Arab World toward the west. Another very important, overlooked stressor to this relationship was the sanctions placed on Iraq after the first Gulf War. The problem with such sanctions is that most often, it effects the poorest among the population: non-combatants who should not be punished for the actions of any government. These are simply a few of the main factors in the strained relationship between the United States and the Arab World. I feel as though the three step approach proposed by Dr. Leahy would have been a position which would have begun to bring healing to the relationship between these nations. I absolutely agree that just as there are Israelis who love their country but disagree with its actions, so we must also be in references to the wrongs which, if not dealt with, will continue to cause problems into the future.  

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