Booknut

Booknut
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I am a social activist (not afraid to call myself LIBERAL in capital letters) who is passionate about peace and loves to read, travel to developing countries, listen to/see provocative lectures and plays -- and drink mojitos!

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OCTOBER 23, 2012 3:05PM

Pakistan: A land of competing narratives

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After a horrifically interminable 48 hours of traveling, I am at home, and looking back at my trip to Pakistan with a bit more distance and perspective. If there is a unifying theme as my thoughts crystallize it is this: There is always more than one narrative, and it is incumbent upon us to seek them out as we travel.  As a journalist and an activist, I see my challenge as to always remain in the listening mode – taking a stand, yes – because “balance” can be the enemy of justice – but also remaining ready and able to adjust to the true realities on the ground.

Competing narratives: Malala and the Taliban

The global media coverage of the shooting of Malala Yousufzai continues to expand and attract major players of all stripes, including Madonna, who stripped down at a Los Angeles concert to expose a “Malala” tattoo on her back.  Unfortunately, almost from the very beginning, various parties have either sought to avoid the broader challenges highlighted by the crime against her or to use it to shove a competing narrative off the public agenda.

In my last blog post, I noted the false choice that seemed to be emerging amidst all the outpouring of grief (and a certain amount of hoopla) surrounding the shooting of Malala: In other words, stop the U.S. drone attacks or the Taliban.  Since then, that debate has now come front and center, along with a growing suspicion among sectors of the public of everyone involved.  Two narratives. Two agendas. Both have merit, but instead of the parties working together for mutual good, an epic battle is shaping up.

One of the parties caught in the crosshairs is the charismatic politician Imran Khan, who hopes to become Pakistan’s next prime minister in 2013 – in part based on a  campaign against the U.S. drone attacks that regularly kill civilians as well as “militants” in the border regions of his country. Although Khan has clearly come out against the shooting, he has disappointed many by avoiding any direct criticism of the Taliban faction that has reportedly claimed credit for the crime. He fears, Kahn has said, for the safety of his party’s workers in the region.

Fahd Husain, host of “Tonight with Fahd” on Pakistan’s Waqt News, eloquently expressed his feeling of betrayal at this weak response:

You are the fountain from which your followers drink their political nectar. They parrot you (often nauseatingly on social media), they regurgitate your arguments and they peddle your logic. Your party leadership pushes your line on TV and defends your rationale on public forums.

In the last week or so, they have fallen flat on their faces. The reason: your ideas are not fully fleshed out.

Is it so because, a) Pakistani Taliban are our people, who are misguided and can be reformed? b) They have killed forty thousand other Pakistanis because we are fighting America’s war and so they do, err… kind of, have a point? c) If the drones would stop, they would stop attacking Malalas and Kainats and Shazias, and stop dynamiting girls’ schools and stop demanding their version of the Sharia for the entire Pakistani society? Or Mr Khan, is it what you have said in your Economist interview, that if you condemn them who will protect your party workers from them?

The last one has left me at a loss of words. Are you saying, Mr Khan, that you will not condemn them, not out of conviction and power of logic, but because of – horror of horrors – fear?

I can be fearful. Your supporters can be fearful. Even your detractors can be fearful. But none of us, Mr Khan, are claiming the leadership of this country; a bold and courageous leadership, I may add.

Make no mistake, sir. This fight against extremism is an existential one. Think it through. Your words matter. Your ideas matter. Your thoughts matter. People believe you. And they want to believe in you. Do not let them down like you have the past week.

You may ask, why am I addressing this to you and not the others. It’s actually pretty simple: I don’t have many expectations from others. The politico-religious leaders are a write-off when it comes to this issue. They are muddled, befuddled, Extremist-Lites. Pakistanis have seen through them. The other politicians sway with the wind and lack spine. They are the reason this country is where it is. The armed forces created these extremists in the first place, and perhaps they will now atone for their sins by going after them.

But you, Mr Khan, claim to be the ‘Great Big Hope’. I, for one, hope that you are. God knows, we need hope. But hope is not a plan of action. Clear-headed thinking, leading to clear-headed action, is. Which is why, if you are confused, so are we.

Meanwhile, there is a parallel rumbling, noted today in an article in the New York Times on the “Malala Moment,” from individuals who are no longer hiding their suspicion that the Taliban might not have been the real mastermind behind the shooting. This op-ed by Dr. Shahida Wizaratin the Frontier Post is representative:

“It is  intriguing to note that after the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the casualties from drone attacks increased to 18 and 27 the day before and yesterday respectively. This precious loss of life and the crimes against humanity committed by the US against these innocents is now not drawing any attention in the international media…

It needs to be remembered that… the US will try to accelerate the killings of innocent Pakistanis both through drone attacks and by orchestrating Malala-type incidents, designed to draw attention to the seriousness of the threats from the ‘militants’ (and justify attacks against them). The hidden agenda behind the do-more admonitions is to accelerate the pace towards the predictions of the CIA report, Global Trends in 2015, which state that KPK and Balochistan (territories on the border with Afghanistan) will not be in the control of the government of Pakistan by the year 2015.”

I must confess that I am one of those individuals who believes that Americans have not been told the full story of what happened on 9/11 and why, and thus I cannot rule out Wizarat’s speculations. We may not ever know the truth. What I do know is that both the shooting of Malala (who thankfully is now reported to be standing with assistance) and the innocents killed by drones (who rarely if ever get anywhere near the publicity accorded this 14-year-old girl) are tragic, and whatever role the U.S. plays in these crimes – directly or indirectly -- must end. It is time to stop treating these troubled countries like pieces in an imperialist chess game.

Postscript: One of the saddest outcomes of the latest events has been the decision by Khan's party, PTI, to cancel a rally outside the UN next week.  “Unfortunately,” wrote Dr. Arif Alvi, PTI General Secretary, “the attack on Malala, which is very condemnable itself, has taken the anti-terror war in a different direction.” Khan’s convoy into the drone-ravaged KPK region and the participation of the Codepink delegation had generated unprecedented U.S. media analysis of American drone policy. Taking the debate to the streets outside of the UN would have kept the heat on.  One does have to ask the question, “Who is really profiting from the crime against Malala?”

Meanwhile, this news item appeared in the Washington Post on Oct. 18:

The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.

The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and be able, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots, officials said.

If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.

The outcome has broad implications for counterterrorism policy and whether the CIA gradually returns to an organization focused mainly on gathering intelligence, or remains a central player in the targeted killing of terrorism suspects abroad.

Competing narratives: Pakistani sovereignty vs. drones

Within the left-leaning groups opposing U.S. drone strikes, a debate is emerging.

In early October, RT (Russia Television) reported that Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik  had urged the U.S. to share drone technology with his country’s government, explaining that Islamabad could put it to better, more legitimate use against terrorism.

“They have given us F-16s, and we haven’t used them against India. Instead, they were used in [the] War against Terror. Now [the] United States should provide drones to Pakistan in order to target militants in areas bordering Afghanistan,” he said. Pakistan, he explained, has no objection to using drones against militants; rather, anti-American hostility is fueled when the United States acts unilaterally as an imperialist power.

Where should we, as anti-war activists who on the one hand oppose imperialistic interference and on the other, remote-controlled murder, stand on this issue?

Within the Codepink delegation, two opposing points of view have emerged. One side was eloquently expressed this way: "I thought one of the issues regarding drones is the impossibility to surrender, have a trial, and protect the basic rights of citizens and soldiers at war.  It does not matter who is steering (a drone – the U.S. or Pakistan).  It is still wrong.”

Others take a more pragmatic, opposing view, adhering narrowly to international law:  “If the Pakistani government is explicitly involved, then I think the question of extrajudicial killing is not so clear. There are areas of Pakistan where the Pakistani state is not exercising total authority and cannot necessarily make arrests and carry out legal functions. I don't think you could find international law experts who would say that the Pakistani state doesn't have authority to use force to reestablish its control over its national territory.  That doesn't make it wonderful, but wonderful and lawful are not the same thing.”

Where do I stand? I believe that returning the power to make and carry out these types of decisions and actions to Pakistani sovereignty is a good and necessary step.  Beyond that, we have no say (other than deciding whether to give or sell drone technology to Pakistan). However, my personal opinion continues to be that drones pre-empt due process and kill innocents no matter who operates them.

Side notes: 1) The news we learned while in Pakistan that the U.S. is expanding its embassy there by 84 acres, while beefing up the barricades around it, does not bode well for any lessening of anti-American sentiment. Does anyone in the State Department even take that into account? 2) There is often talk of providing compensation to the families of drone victims. However, we received a clear message from those with whom we talked: You can’t compensate for loss of life! The only redress is to stop the attacks.

Competing narratives: ‘Oppressed Islamist women’ vs. strength expressed in different ways

One of the most common disconnects I encounter when I visit Gaza, Palestine, as well as other Islamic countries such as Pakistan, is between liberal/leftist Western women and the females they meet who actively practice the dictates of their religion and culture in terms of dress, separation between men and women, etc.

There is this almost automatic assumption on the part of Western women that any female who wears the hijab, stays indoors after 6 p.m. or obeys other practices that are perceived as restricting the freedom of women is oppressed and deserves our pity.  However, I have continually been reminded that many of these women do not feel oppressed, and see our attitudes as just another form of orientalism.

The first such woman to eloquently express this point of view was Sameeha Elwan, a beautiful and highly intelligent teacher from Gaza. In her blog, “Here, I was Born,” she once wrote: “Internationals should really respect cultural differences. I’m from a different culture. If your parents allow you to go out alone after midnight, mine do not. Has this affected me in any way possible? Not in the least. That’s it. Period.”

In Pakistan, where people in the tribal regions practice “purda” – total separation of men and women – my wake-up call came from Shaista Tabussam Khan Sultanpuri, a young woman from South Waziristan who became the first female member of the Islamabad Bar Association, and now is running to be vice president of the group. “Yes, we have our own customs,” she told me with a big smile. “But you know, the women are stronger than the men! 


Shaista is the smiling one on the left

Competing narratives: Dangerous Pakistan vs. a place one chooses for home

Like many participants in the Codepink delegation, many people questioned my decision to travel to Pakistan, fearing that I was endangering my life by merely stepping foot into the country. In fact, the mother of one of our delegates offered to pay her $1,000 (the cost of her airfare) if she agreed to stay home. 

Some of that fear was based on the anti-U.S. sentiment that is indeed widespread within the country – and understandably so.  However, all of the individuals I met were very able and willing to separate Americans from U.S. policy, and were simply thrilled that we cared enough to learn more about their country for ourselves.

There is also the perception that Pakistan as a country is inhabited mostly by “militants” (however one defines that) – a stereotype common to Gaza as well.  For those who harbor this misconception, my prescription is to spend a few days in Lahore with my friend Waqas, who – after spending a year attending high school in the United States – has decided that while he may return to America to earn his master’s degree, he wants to live and work in Pakistan. “Americans live to work,” he explained.  “I want to work to live.”

The other side of Pakistan

 

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Of course, the government's "official report" on 9/11 leads many including me to question the veracity of the report. Who would be in a better position to believe that a deliberate effort at deceit is in play here, than "the widows of 9/11," who complain bitterly at the heavily redacted report.

It took decades to get the government to come clean on the Bay of Tonkin "Incident." It will likely take more than that; much more than that for full disclosure of 9/11. As the war on terror is designed to be never-ending, the truth of 9/11 may never be revealed.

I mention Pakistan often in my blogs, which I am more and more disinclined to post, because open sewer has so radically changed, since You first begun posting here.

The claque of the willfully ignorant has grown exponentially through the years. They talk in sports metaphors to describe an election, so they can disabuse themselves of complicity in the daily carnage carried out in their names AND paid for with their tax dollars.

I can only hope that some of Your family and friends appreciate Your courage to put Yourself in harm's way in search of truth. I know I do. You will receive no accolades from the Neanderthal's who have seized control of the site.

In fact, if they even read You, they will search for reasons to vilify You. open sewer is now open for business and with increasingly rare exception, facts are unwelcome in the discourse.


-R-
Fascinating post. I think there is no question that the official version of 9-11 has been totally debunked by serious professional architects and demolition experts. Ryan Dawson summarizes all this evidence in a comprehensive way in his documentary "9-11 and the Cover-up" at
http://www.rys2sense.com/anti-neocons/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=28820

Since you have been traveling, you are probably unaware of the current court case, which is expected to result in the arrest of 2 former CIA officials for their involvement in the drone strikes. The British press has been following this, and I summarize a Mail Online article at http://open.salon.com/blog/stuartbramhall/2012/10/21/cia_officials_face_arrest_in_pakistan

I share your concerns (I suspect Imran Khan does as well) that the CIA played some role in the Malala shooting. More and more is coming out about the CIA funding, arming and training so-called al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists (the Taliban was a CIA creation after all) - particularly after the arrest of CIA agent Raymond Davis in Feb (his cellphone was full of Taliban contacts, and it turned out he was supplying them weapons. This arrest resulted in the Pakistani government ordering the immediate expulsion of all CIA operatives.

On the surface, it seems totally nonsensical for the US government to be funding both terrorism and anti-terrorism simultaneously. Yet it clearly accomplishes its purpose - it justifies America's continuing (undeclared) war on Pakistan.

One important fact totally overlooked by the US media is the "strategic" purpose of US military intervention in Pakistan. The policy makes a lot of sense from the perspective Obama's foreign policy mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski lays out in "The Grand Chessboard".

The US war with Pakistan is really a proxy war against China, just as many third world interventions during the Cold War were proxy wars against the Soviet Union.

Also rarely mentioned in the mainstream media is the massive economic and military aid Pakistan receives from China. China has built them a deep water port in Gwadar and constructed a massive superhighway system connecting to the port and is in the process of constructing a massive Iran-Pakistan-India-China oil/gas pipeline to transport the oil and gas transhipped through the Gwadar Port.

The war against Pakistan isn't about terrorism - it's just a pretext for a US military presence there. And the threatened war against Iran isn't about nuclear weapons Iran isn't building. It's about whether the US or China gets control over major energy resources they both regard essential to future economic growth.

All this receives good coverage in the international press and the blogosphere. If people don't believe me, check out some of the links in an article I wrote last year at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/07/20/americas-proxy-energy-wars/

None of this is about terrorism or women's rights any more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were. It's about strategic control over the world's dwindling fossil fuel resources.
Dr. the perspectives You perceive offer dwarf mine. As I read Your words concerning a proxy play against China and economic dominance, something clicks in my mind, and I say to myself, why wasn't I smart enough to know that.

Whether it be Your comments or Your blog, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that I have much to learn from You, and I thank You for Your insights.
pakistani 'sovereignty ' is of utmost importance.
we here in the land of make believe
(cnn msnbc fox)
see Pakistan as a pressing problem , knowing zippo
about it. it is how we americans run
our Empire. blissful ignorance..
~
beatiful pictures of the real stuff. the peepul!
Provocative and thoughtful, thank you. As someone who has lost six friends to a terrorist attack and another to a rogue Taliban hijacking and murder there is a part of me which absolutely condones and supports the use of drones. The other part of me which is the louder voice screams that violence cannot be stopped with more violent acts and that if we waged peace with the same ferocity and resources as we do war we would be living in a different world. Thank you again.
Provocative and thoughtful, thank you. As someone who has lost six friends to a terrorist attack and another to a rogue Taliban hijacking and murder there is a part of me which absolutely condones and supports the use of drones. The other part of me which is the louder voice screams that violence cannot be stopped with more violent acts and that if we waged peace with the same ferocity and resources as we do war we would be living in a different world. Thank you again.
Mark, has it really gotten that bad here at OS? And why do you think that is? (But then, hey, you're here! So it's not all bad!) Stuart -- you are quite right to point out the other agendas that exist and that MSM journalists rarely try to reveal. It is those agendas from the past, along with our attempt to manipulate the chessboard, that is causing such massive blowback today. Yet we blissfully bemoan "the crazies" in countries like Pakistan -- refusing to remember that we created them.
What a wonderful trip! I am so lucky to read this great piece. PLEASE permit me to translate it into my native African language in order to share it with my facebook friends.
Dear Booknut, May your ink never dry till you visit Africa my Continent.
Booknut, a cursory glance at the front page where You'll find kosh and cordle should make You want to vomit. They both advocate that we haven't yet killed enough babies.

It would be nice if You visit my blog, too, and contrast their gibberish with my posts..
[r] accessing open salon has been a struggle the past 24 hours especially. I am so grateful to have read this blog and about your politics of courage. such a rich blog. glad you commented on mark's. the Pakistani leader and the fear factor.

we do need leaderships of people with character, serious reformers who are willing to honor a moral compass and sacrifice for their beliefs and their country. to role model the politics of courage (Jill Stein's label). To help us all make that paradigm shift to cultivate global partnership and cooperation. We need to unite to deal with mass global challenges like from climate change.

I read that the CIA are gonna get their 10 more drones on wsws, which is chilling. They really are a paramilitary army unto themselves.

the pictures are wonderful. we are all citizens without borders. another four years of war mongering either from Obama or Romney. How long will other countries, the average citizens, separate the average Americans from their murdering leaders and have such good will? I know I am having trouble myself lately dealing with and forgiving the passivity of average Americans enabling such policies once again this election cycle!

I remember meeting American tourists in Europe years and years ago pretending they were Canadians because of the Vietnam War shame!

best, libby
Libby..Yes, that is what I found myself doing! I introduced myself to Pakistanis by saying, "I'm American and I am so sorry!"
Booknut, here is a blog I did a while back about a brave journalist in the MidEast named Megan Stack. She wrote a terrific book, "Every Man in this Village is a Liar." Fascinating take she has from her first hand experience especially focusing on the women issue!

http://open.salon.com/blog/libbyliberalnyc/2011/02/22/megan_stack_on_ussaudi_arabias_moral_myopia_re_women

best, libby
America is on the warpath against Al Qaida and the Taliban and any other such terrorist groups, wherever they are. We said right from the beginning we were coming after them and anyone who harbors them. Pakistan is currently harboring them in their mountain regions.

We would absolutely love to see the Pakistani people go after the Taliban and the Al Qaida terrorists hiding in their country. In fact, we desperately need them to help us win the war against terrorists. Until they do, we will continue to press our offensive against the terrorists, wherever they are.

After we pull out of Afghanistan we should be ready to return when the Taliban invades Afghanistan from their hideouts in Pakistan. Seal off the border and trap them in Afghanistan and wipe them out.

In Denver during the 1990s we had the rapid deployment anti-gang task force that would respond with overwhelming force against the slightest incident of gang activity. The United Nations, including the USA, should have a similar world wide rapid deployment anti-terrorist task force that can respond to the resurgent terrorist networks wherever they show up, such as Nigeria and Mali.
Earthling, the problem with your reasoning is that it is very short sighted. We may kill a few militants along with civilians today, but the anti-American sentiment created will only provide the fuel to replace them tomorrow. Look at Afghanistan! We've been there how long? And can you truly say we have eradicated either the Taliban or Al-Qaeda?
Libby, the book sounds very interesting. It sounds similar to one I just finished, called the "Taliban Shuffle" by Kim Barker. Interestingly, Barker wrote for the Chicago Tribune, which has the same "parent" as the Los Angeles Times. She writes about a bit of unintentional "competition" with her sister paper.
Like I said on another one of your posts, by the way, thanks for your reports, while i do not agree with your ideology, I am thankful to get on the ground reports. Anyway, like I said I believe we should use our military force aggressively against the terrorists. I also think we should rally the United Nations and develop a permanent military force under the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations that includes a rapid deployment anti-gang/anti-terrorist task force that will respond with overwhelming force against any terrorist organizations or any nation that violates international law or disturbs the peace. You get the point? Permanent capabilities to fight these extremists wherever they are until the world is safe, clean and decent society for everyone. The USA is not perfect, we are fighting tooth and nail to make the world fair and safe and democratic, with universal human rights for all people everywhere.
Thanks for at least reading my reports, Earthling, since you don't agree with them. Most people only seek out perspectives they already agree with. We DO disagree though. You have by far more confidence than I think is justified in both the true motives of the United States and our ability to be a peacemaker. In my mind, we are more like the proverbial bull in the china shop.
earth to earthling! you unbelievably write:

"The USA is not perfect, we are fighting tooth and nail to make the world fair and safe and democratic, with universal human rights for all people everywhere."

Holy Shit. if only that were true!!! Orwellian American government -- humanitarian intervention means we are about to bomb the shit out of your country and make you a failed state. We are about to enable terrorists to topple your regime and we really don't give a crap about the welfare of anyone, including children! We will sanction you all to death maybe first. R2P means according to escobar "the right to plunder". the US has jumped the shark. Where have you been? Even David Brooks says we live in Post-Morality America. Common good, public trust, Geneva Conventions, due process, ... they no longer exist for our corporate-captured American government. Wake up and smell the drone exhaust!

best, libby
Booknut, will check out Taliban Shuffle. Stack has a lot to say but when she calls out American businessmen and vips who over in Saudi Arabia go along with cultural misogyny for their own opportunistic needs, let her as a woman be treated second class without a peep out of them in respect of her because, after all, profit uber alles. that is what especially got to me. maybe it calls on a deeper misogyny that is called out in these western men. the boys' club of power and control and patriarchy! best, libby
earthling, you aren't buying all the crap propaganda about Iran are you? Please don't!!!!
Earthling, one other response to your argument about our right to "self-defense":

It's certainly true that the U.S. has claimed that its attacks on people in Pakistan alleged to be involved in attacks on US troops in Afghanistan is self-defense. But it's important to be aware that such a right to self-defense across an international border, outside of the immediate context of responding to an armed attack, has never been recognized in international law.

There's no question that if someone comes across an international border to attack you, you have the right to hit back.

There's also no question that if they run away, you can chase them, including across the international border. This is called "hot pursuit."

But what the U.S. is doing in Pakistan is something else. It might be called "cold pursuit," attacking people suspected of attacking you across the international border in the past and intending to do so in the future. This has never been recognized in international law. Everyone facing an insurgency which has bases across an international border would like to do this. But the right to do so has never been recognized in international law..

For example, in March 2008 Colombia attacked a FARC camp in Ecuador. This sparked a major diplomatic crisis. Ecuador broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia and said it would regard a repeat of the attack as an act of war. Diplomatic relations were not restored until November 2010. Colombia never repeated the offense, in large measure because of the fierce and negative regional diplomatic reaction, which explicitly regarded the attack as a violation of Ecuadoran sovereignty.
Yes, I do think the USA is the good guys in the war on terrorists. I am not a supporter of the corporate hegemony that has replaced our government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a corruption of the American civilization. I also advocate that we do something about it. Corporations should pay no income taxes and be forbidden to interfere in our government. They would pay user fees and severance taxes, etc.

Bali, Madrid, London, Mumbai were all terrorist attacks launched from Pakistan. The people of Pakistan need to decide what side they are on. We will be fighting against the terrorists until they are extinct.

The United Nations Military Staff Committee should develop that rapid deployment anti-gang/anti-terrorist task force ASAP. The drug cartels and other international organized crime syndicates are another problem that we should use military force against.

I am all for world unity and peace and prosperity for everyone. The Arab people have benefited as much as anyone from American economic prosperity. You'd think they would be grateful instead of hostile.

America is like the Phoenicians, we like to trade and play with everyone, we don't like to fight, but we can if we have to.

We do not want to rule Afghanistan or Pakistan or anyone else, other than ourselves, we fight for self-government. We stand for democracy and human rights and we are not ashamed of that and we do not apologize for that.

Peace be with you.
And actually, the USA is the only institution strong enough to stand up to the terrorists. I do suggest the we develop a United Nations military capability. That is a very complicated issue that must be accomplished very carefully. We need to be sure the United Nations is going to protect our unalienable human rights or violate them. Many of the nations in the world today routinely violate our universal human rights. The USA is even getting worse and worse in that regard, primarily because the Supreme Court has declared that corporation are people with the same rights as people, which is just not accurate. The court has also been overruling the people in our cultural values repeatedly. Just like Jefferson mentioned in the Declaration of Independence about the king preventing the colonists from passing necessary laws to safeguard the people. Our supreme court is doing the same thing in regard the marriage of one man with one woman is an ancient religious institution far older than any state and abortion is murdering an innocent rational soul, and other such cultural values.

The founding fathers of the USA abolished the ruling class, they did not replace it with a small minority of well educated bureaucrats.

We, the people of earth, have a right and a responsibility to express our spirituality and our religion in public. Everything is sacred. Secular humanism is a half truth. Religion is humanistic. The only thing that is not sacred is human sedition against Almighty God's authority over His Kingdom of God. The human race is the Kingdom of God

Islam, submission unto God, is the inner essence of every religion. Jihad is our personal struggle to follow the rule of law revealed by the Manifestation of God, instead of our own selfish ambition, our own animal passion.

Well, this post went far out on an unexpected tangent.

I love Baha'u'llah
Earthling, we will have to agree to disagree on the desired role of the USA as global police and savior...
One more thing. You didn't happen to show the Pakistani people any pictures of people jumping out of the World Trade center in order to escape the fire did you.
God is the only savior. The USA is just one of many great nations. All these ancient and modern civilizations are clashing because they are coming together. The United Nations is our global federation of nations, the whole human race is one universal common wealth.
OMG Earthling! What a USA-centric worldview you have! Other countries have suffered from terrorism so much more regularly than we have -- some caused by us. You think we have some special claim to suffering because of 9/11? How insular.
No I do not think the USA is special. Other than that we have more military forces available. I also think the American style of democracy and human rights is superior to most other nations.

I believe that world unity can only be accomplished by the people coming together into one common faith, one universal and divine civilization. Justice and compassion are essential facets of that one common faith.

I want peace and prosperity for all the world's people. Allowing drug lords and terrorists, and corporations for that matter, to run roughshod over the people is not fair or peaceful.

I want a strong government to use whatever force necessary to insure that no one lords over anyone else, no nation lords over any other nation.

And by the way, I had a conversation with Muhammad Atta on the New York Time forums during the summer of 2001. He said he hated the USA and that he and his friends were going to fly a 747 into the world trade center. I told him if they did we would kick their a**. They did, and we did right back.

I like to watch Al Jazeera and CCTV (Central China TV) just to get a world perspective of the news. Al Jazeera is extremely disrespectful of the USA, never says anything good about the USA. I have seen many posts on many forums like this paraphrase, "Every time we hit the USA, such as the Benghazi attack, we knock them down a notch. The USA is declining, the Arabs are rising.

I would like to be able to sell our Army Air Force, Navy and Marine Corp to the United Nations. It would make our global security system more fair, and it would help the USA solve some of our financial problems. We would still have our national guard and coast guard for homeland defense, etc.

Not as long as the Arab people are so openly hostile toward the USA. We have to keep our guard up because of openly declared Arab and Muslim hostility toward the USA and western civilization.

We also need to be on guard against China, because we're not sure their going to act honorably, we hope so, we want to be friends, but we have to have some reasonable agreed upon international ethics, and from what I've been hearing recently, China is not acting very honorably in international trade and in the seas around east Asia.

I love the human race. They're all my family. Peace be with you.