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Blame vs. Responsibility
Learning something from terrorist attacks

By Mario Giardiello
mario@politicalusa.com

3/11/2002

 
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I have been accused of being anti-American and a traitor because of my opinions expressed on television opinion shows about the responsibility America has to the world and to itself to reevaluate its foreign policy. Many people do not understand the difference between blaming American foreign policy for the terrorist attacks in September, and taking some responsibility for creating a world that can breed such cowardly, desperate acts.

To make the distinction between blame and responsibility clearer, I have chosen an analogy that is easier to imagine. Suppose you are walking through a city park, in a "bad" part of town at night and get mugged. It is not your fault you got mugged. In fact, it is 100% the fault of the person who mugged you. Nonetheless, the next time you need to get home late at night you might think of safer ways to get home, including a taxi or another route. 

Understanding that walking through the park in the middle of the night wasn’t the smartest thing to do would prove you learned something. Likewise, we must understand that there are many desperate, poverty-stricken people with nothing to lose and who do not see themselves as terrorists, but as people who are fighting for their country, God and families. Accepting the fact that these people are not madmen in their own minds, but human beings with real purpose and rationale for their acts is an important step in understanding that we can do something to prevent the types of act that occurred on September 11. 

As long as we label them madmen and terrorist, we will continue to see this problem in black and white, and we will fail to ever reach a solution. We do not have to view the acceptance for some responsibility in the worlds’ problems and blaming our country for the deeds of a few terrorists as the same thing. It is time to take some responsibility for the world's troubles and help come up with some real solutions.

The United States of America, the greatest country in the world in many aspects, has expanded its isolationist politics to a dangerous level. In the past two years, we have been unwilling to even discuss issues that concern the world. ABM Treaty, Kyoto, Durban, are just a few of the names that are associated with our continuing isolationist politics. Now, the latest in our maverick style foreign policy is "if you do not help us, we’ll do it alone." We are constantly refusing to sit at the table of the world and hear the concerns of our global neighbors. You can debate point by point these concerns as Hannity tried to do on his "praise more bombs" radio show, but the rest of the world sees a country that only cares about itself.

In many of the countries that are incubators for terrorism, there is a vast discrepancy of wealth between them and the United States. Some of the tensions that arise from this fact may well be merely envy and disdain, but we must look deeper to see if there are other reasons for this hate for our country that is brewing in the poorest corners of the world. In many countries that harbor or train terrorists, the poverty is overwhelming. The life style of people in the Mideast differs drastically from that of ours. Sure there are pockets of riches in the area, but less than a quarter of the people living in the Mideast can read and write, less than 20% have phone lines and less than 10% have TV’s. 

In our country, even the poorest families own two or three televisions. Even in most of our allies’ countries that boast of a higher literacy rate than the U.S. there are less than 50% of the household have television and phone lines. Great Britain, our closest ally, with an almost 100% literacy rate, can only claim half of its population owning televisions and slightly higher than that have telephone lines. These statistics show the vast discrepancy between the wealth we enjoy in this country and the poverty that the rest of the world endures.

It is hard not to take our wealth in America for granted. Since WWII we controlled over 50% of the entire wealth in the world and our leaders have done everything they could to increase that percentage. Is this an inherently evil goal? I would say not, but the rest of the world sees this incessant need for more and more, as selfish and egocentric at the least, and terrorism at its worst. 

How can capitalism possibly be associated with terrorism? It isn’t, unless the greed fostered by America’s biggest companies inhibit other countries to be independent and self-sufficient which we have seen in Central American, South America, and Southeast Asia. Our government must begin to foster a global economy or the ills of the world will soon be visiting our own doors. I do believe in the ability of capitalism to increase the riches of the world. There is a benefit to the entire world when we create, invent, and spread our wealth, but we must take into account the inherent greed that is associated with capitalism and create more regulations on big businesses. The first step to overcoming this problem is admitting that there is a problem, and it appears we do not have an administration that is willing to take that very courageous first step.

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