I received the following essay in an email from my friend Ouyporn Khuankaew of Thailand.
This essay comes from the Santi Pracha Dhamma Institute, which was founded in 1986 by Sulak Sivaraksa. The institute’s name is derived from three principles on which it bases its work: Santi = peace, Pracha = people’s rule or democracy, Dhamma = righteousness or justice.
You may not like or agree with all of what this essay is communicating, but I decided to publish it (without editing) because I feel it’s important for those of us who live in the U.S. to be aware of how people from other countries perceive us, and to consider the counsel they offer in support of us.
The Ordinary American People are the only Genuine Force to End Terrorism
The 2 May 2011 Shame for a Nobel Peace Laureate
The date 2 May 2011 is as though an ending of a Hollywood action movie that the (believed to be) villain, played by Osama bin Laden, was killed and the “justice has been done” as said by the hero, played by Barack Obama. Perhaps this is the reason why Obama is suddenly very much admired and his popularity bounce back so high, like other action movie stars. This is the view of many American people who only see wars and fights in the movies. It is an unfortunate and short eye sighted view.
From the hero’s own words, the evidence to confirm the death of bin Laden is not a trophy to show around. Of course it is not a trophy, it is a stigma. The whole operation is a shame, as Obama admitted that the possibility of success is only 55%, and yet he decided to execute it. To cover the shameful operation, i.e. invading a sovereign country without warning for US’s own interest, attacking a house that the force is not certain if bin Laden stayed, killing an unarmed person in front of his family, not giving bin Laded a chance to speak, not taking him to a court of justice, not giving him a proper funeral, and so on, the US leadership even blames that sovereignty country of not reporting the Bin Laden’s whereabouts to the US.
Killing bin Laden, a man responsible for the 9/11, is not a real solution to the terrorism. It is a shame that Obama, a person who is in such a high position and receives the high recognition like Nobel Peace Prize is stupid enough to satisfy (or hypnotize) himself and try to satisfy (or hypnotize) American people and the world with easy solution to terrorism. To accept the reality that US has caused disaster in many countries through its rogue and violent foreign policies to soothe its delusion of self-claimed leadership of the world, seems to be too painful for the US authority. When the shameful mistake or consequence revealed, the only way that the US can think of is to commit even more violence to counter the disaster caused by the previous violence.
At most, it is as brief as a wink of an eye moment of victory of the US force. But as long as the truth remains, it is the loss. It is the loss of US leadership that will never be forgotten in the history of mankind like the disaster it did in Vietnam and other countries. The looser from such thoughtless operation is the American nation, and the victims are the whole American people. It is sad that Obama chose to be remembered as the Nobel peace laureate who triggers deep hatred in the heart of many Muslim people, rather than something more honourable.
Root cause of terrorism is right there in the US
If American people are really interested in ending terrorism, the self-criticism and the thorough contemplation on the whole history of American military and foreign policies is highly recommended. American people need to see the whole “movie”, instead of the disconnected “scene by scene”. The contemporary history could have still remained in the memory of many American people, such as the disaster the US has done to the nation and people of Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, to name just a few. The recent action is another disaster.
In order to truly end terrorism (not to end a terrorist) the root causes has to be examined. Unfortunately the terrorism and people like Osama bin Laden is the products of the US military and foreign policies. If American people ignore the content and impacts of such policies, and allow their government to continue, there is no hope to end terrorism. In the pursuit of the root causes, American people may come across questions like whether such policies really serve the interest of the ordinary American people or to serve the arrogance, ignorance, and interest of some powers that be in politic and economic sphere.
By the definition of the term “terrorism” people from other regions can rightly call the US the genuine and master terrorist. Bin Laden, his people and many ordinary people in the Middle East has never been content with the presence and the influence of the western countries, especially the US in their region. And possibly the hatred feeling is shared by many people in other regions where foreign military bases locate. The US’s constant and possibly ungrounded fear of loosing the hegemonic power propelled its numerous terror actions that have been carried out around the world since the time of anti-communism and the cold war.
The US military presence and political intervention in all regions is only to protect the US delusion of a global hegemony, and has never ever been for the sake of the native people, and perhaps even for the sake of ordinary American people. Good young men from ordinary American families are turned to be cold-blood murderers, and are traumatized for the rest of their live for the legal slaughter they committed.
The US, like other government, claims that their actions are for the benefit of their people. The presence and intervention in the Middle East is also for this purpose. The US needs to ensure the supply of natural resources, in this case oil, which feeds the extremely industrialized American society and the affluent lifestyle of American people. The consumption of natural resources by the American society is always among the highest ranking. In order that natural resources to be consumed by the handful American population, the much larger majority of people in other parts of the world have to give up their share. Not only the consumption, but the whole unjust capitalist economic activities of the American are supported directly or indirectly by the rogue foreign and military policies, too.
If these kind of military and foreign policies of the US continue, they will only cause suffering and hatred among more and more people, and more bin Ladens are made out of those people.
The true root cause of terrorism that haunted American people is therefore, located right in their own country. Fear, delusion and greed that poison the mind of US leadership manifest themselves in the actions that cause terrors and disaster to the world and then receive much more terrors and disaster in re turn. Without this awareness, hunting around the world for the terrorists is like chasing after shadow. You can’t catch it because it is you.
The genuine solution lies on the American people’s awakening mind
Alright, if the American prefer the strategy of “Hunting them down”, what is going to happen? The strategy would only fulfil bin Laden’s wish for the collapse of the US. How many resources, how much time and how many lives have been spent so far and get fear, hatred, distrust, terror and destruction in return? It is difficult to call this an effective investment. Of course it might be a lucrative market for weapons industry which brings about even more downward spiral destruction to the American.
From the May Day 2011 on, American people will not be able to live peacefully any more. The retaliation was already announced. By now they should realize the saying that “Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased”.
The peaceful life is definitely affordable for American people. But the price is quite high. That is the genuine sincerity for self-criticism of the mistakes in the past and the effort to take correct actions toward future. Of course it is hopeless to call to the powers that be. They are too distant from all kind of sufferings created by their destructive policies. But the hope lies on the ordinary American people.
America should be aware that in order to live peacefully, what needed is the awakening mind of American citizens. With such a sophisticate communication system, American people should wake up and see how their leadership’s propaganda makes them remain in the constant delusion and fear. In fact the American history is not that old, it is easy for the people to study it carefully about the oppression, domination and destruction the US leadership caused to the world and to the people.
American people with the freedom of expression should speak the truth and speak for those under the oppression and human right violation caused by the US foreign and military policies.
To educate themselves about the truth, to give the voice of consciousness to the leadership, to take actions to reverse the destruction, and to stop all forms of violence caused by them is a only long lasting solution to terrorism , provided that the freedom and rights are still enjoyed by the ordinary American citizens.
We call on American people the following:
- We encourage you to learn more about negative impacts caused by the US military and foreign policies to different nations, people, and even environment. You should remember the Orange Agent that was poured down in Indochina regions by the US that killed trees, animals, water resources and of course people.
- We encourage you to take a deep look at how your affluent lifestyle creates suffering for the people in other parts of the world, and become excuses for your powers that be to continue their domination.
- We encourage you to investigate how your leadership are expert in rhetoric of and pay only lip service to justice, democracy and human rights protection.
- We encourage you to withdraw your support to the leadership who are responsible for the rouge and violent policies that are the origin and the induction of terrorism.
- We encourage you to take actions. You can participate in one of the many groups or people’s movements in your own area that are active in issues such as anti-war or anti-violence campaign, human rights protection, democratization and good governance.
- We encourage you to reach out to ordinary people in the regions that are negatively impacted by the US policies. You can learn to feel their anxiety, hatred, fear, and sorrow. It is a true human experience, not the thrill from the action movies. If possible, you are also encouraged to share the physical suffering by making some donation. The non profit organizations or charity organizations in your area may be able to give you more advice in this action.
Wow. Sounds like Buddhists the world over have become unhinged by our killing of bin Laden. This author wants us to engage in paroxysms of guilt and self-abasement about all of our past war crimes (of which, I admit, there are many). I do believe, to some degree, in karma as I understand it. What goes around comes around. We had a major role in creating Osama bin Laden; but to say, without qualification, that “the terrorism and people like Osama bin Laden is the products of the US military and foreign policies” is, unequivocally, simple-mindedness. It really is the equivalent of saying a woman was raped because of that short skirt she wore: one may attract the attention of a criminal by one’s policies (or dress), but the criminal is responsible for their own crimes. Are our foreign policies abysmal? In many cases, over long periods, yes, without equivocation. Did the 3000+ people who dies on 9/11 have anything to do with them? Well, no, mostly. (I don’t know what the folks in the Pentagon did, but I’m guessing the plane was not directed at the office of anyone particularly responsible for Mideast policy.)
I don’t celebrate the death of bin Laden, but I understand those who do. It is, as I have said, just another turn of the wheel. Yes, there will be blowback – and maybe already has been, given the deaths of 80 people in Pakistan today.
And I am no fan of American foreign or domestic policy, though I think the issues involved are more complex than almost all of us can guess or know. Which makes criticism easy, but informed and, therefore, constructive criticism damn rare.
But it seems like the Buddhist community (perhaps along with many others) really wants Americans to feel badly about bin Laden’s death. Not just badly: guilty. Abjectly guilty. Ashamed, even.
I find that fascinating, and look forward to reading more about how this reaction to this event changes and grows. I’ve never seen a usually placid community flip out like this before. I wonder what Buddhist thinkers will be writing about this event, and the Buddhist community’s reaction to it, 5 years from now.
What John said. That article borders on the most basic and ignorant form of Xenophobia. Remember that most of this terrorism crap revolves around Israel and the remains of the colonialism from the past 200 years. I wonder if the author who is from Thailand agrees with the Thai’s governments actions against Islamic extremists in the southern part of the country.
I would be interested in what you think of the piece, Maia.
IMHO, a good way to tell that someone is unhinged and unglued – or, as the Germans say, ausgeflipped – is that they begin trying to foretell the future. Everyone wants to be a prophet. Some of what the author says is true, but it is so encased in the amber of umbrage (I kinda like that) that he/they sound like a Thai version of Glenn Beck: their ideology always has control over the facts, rather than the facts informing the ideology.
Thank you for this deep and thoughtful analysis. I will share it.
Thanks for the invitation to share my thoughts on this article. I was stumped for a while (I feel like that’s been true for me ever since the news about bin Laden came out and the ensuing reactions). There’s a lot that I feel is true in this essay, and some things that feel distorted to me as well.
Then I realized that part of the problem is that I think all of us are off track in putting so much emphasis on OBL and his murder last week, including the author of this essay.
Ah, if we could only roll back the clock. I wish the U.S. had limited its actions to sending in a CIA team to capture bin Laden right after September 11. Even killing bin Laden back then would have been preferable to all the deaths that have come afterwards, as a result of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I’m not one of those who buys the conspiracy theories about 9/11… but I do think that the Bush Administration took full advantage of that horrible day to justify aggressive actions they had planned to take against Iraq all along. Remember – Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with OBL and the September 11 attacks. However, those two unconnected things have become forever linked in our minds and our lives, thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney, et al.
And as a result, 10 years later, we have engaged in two full-scale wars that have left thousands of people dead and wasted billions of dollars. Our ancient, twisted karma indeed…
So it seems odd now to focus back in again on OBL, when we have strayed such a long long way from what happened back in 2001. Under such circumstances, it seems truly absurd to believe that killing OBL will make our world any safer.
Yes, there is violence and oppression emanating from other countries, some of it pretty horrific, as Kyle notes. I agree – self-reflection is needed from all parties; it should not be limited to the U.S. And yet, what is true is that we are still the most affluent country and we use the most resources, per capita. As the article above notes, our greed and delusion is problematic and affects the rest of the world.
It’s interesting to me that you feel the author wants us to engage in “paroxysms of guilt.” I don’t read it quite that way… I hear it as a call to reflection, awareness, and action. Guilt is optional.
Yep, definitely plenty of grist for the mill, for reflection. My perception of imposed guilt comes mostly from two things: the repeated use of the word shame in the first few paragraphs, and the author’s contention that we are to blame for terrorism.
The author would blame the Hobbits for Sauron.
My problem is that the author asks so few questions – only two, in fact, and they are both rhetorical. S/he seems to have no respect for or curiosity about the complexity of cause and effect. I’d love to know why and how the 60’s generation that was so against war and in favor of love grew up to preside over the country in this way. I’d love to know why, when President Bush began two protracted wars of aggression, other countries did not unite in opposition to us. I’d like to know why liberals, whose ideology revolves around working together, are so ineffectual and fragmented, while conservatives, who embody Social Darwinism and looking out for number one, have worked together like a juggernaut.
Maybe it’s just my deep-rooted agnosticism that recoils at someone who tells me they know how the world works, that it’s working badly, and dammit, it’s all my fault.
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