RANDY DAVID is a well-known University of the Philippines sociologist, faculty member and a lifelong defender of the Left and other "progressive causes" through published articles, television and radio programs, as well as speeches and position papers on Philippine social and political issues. Once per week he writes a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer called Public Lives. In After 9/11, Randy produces an essay that states the position of the anti-American Philippine Left on the global war on terror. His attitude is that all the bad things that have happened after 9/11 are basically America's fault, for being either arrogant or paranoid or worse, a failure at what it sets out to do in the world.
RANDY: THE transformation of air travel, particularly into the United States, into a tedious, time-consuming, and often humiliating activity is only the most obvious effect of 9/11. It is perhaps the least important. The paranoia that 9/11 spawned has produced a new international security doctrine that is undermining democracy everywhere. It has given a new warrant to imperialist wars by reviving the archaic notion of pre-emptive defense. It has extended the life of militarist and dictatorial regimes that had been battered by the global tide of democratization in the ’80s and ’90s. It has given tyrants who justify oppression as a state necessity a good conscience.As quickly as Randy dispatches the inconveniences of modern air travel as being "the least important" costs of the war on terror, he immediately blames "the paranoia that 9/11 spawned" as "undermining democracy everywhere" by abetting "imperialist wars" and soothing the consciences of tyrants. (Oh, but how archaic of the West to resort to self-defense!) But objectively speaking, Randy is quite wrong about the global trends in democratization. Since the United States first decided to forcibly democratize Miitarist Japan and Nazi Germany after World War II, the number of Western-style constitutional democracies all over the world has been steadily increasing in numbers from a few dozen before the War to well over 120 today. The last major spurt was seen in the late eighties and nineties as a direct result of the implosion of the Soviet Union and the historic collapse of world wide communism. It was another US President that the Left loved to hate--one Ronald Reagan--that basically gave the old USSR the last fatal shove into the graveyard of truly failed phenomenal ideas, starting when, in an historic act of political incorrectness during the Cold War, he dared to call the USSR "the Evil Empire." Of course that singular political supernova of almost a generation ago now, has hardly dimmed the ideological faith of Randy David and the Philippine Left. Contrary to his assertion, I would say that dictatorial regimes of all kinds have been looking over their shoulder at changes in US foreign policy toward such regimes, especially after 9/11.
RANDY: The United States has fought many wars before, but never on its homeland. The daring 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, the heartland of American power, were unprecedented not only in their brazenness but in their effect on the American psyche. They gave imperial arrogance a moral reason to unleash the capacity for naked violence that the United States wields as the world’s lone superpower.Well there you have it folks, the world's lone superpower displaying imperial arrogance and moral outrage in the face of a brazen attack on its homeland. How dare the arrogant Americans react violently to the slaughter of several thousand of their innocent citizens! Perhaps Randy would rather have America turn the other cheek rather than, for example, dismantle the Taliban government in Afghanistan or root out sleeper cells and supporters.
RANDY: Its first targets were the aliens perceived to pose a threat at home. In the days following 9/11, 768 foreigners were rounded up and jailed as “special interest” detainees. Their identities were kept secret, and the public was barred from the immigration hearings in which their cases were taken up. Within a week after 9/11, the first draft of the Patriot Act took shape. Much of the assault on the civil liberties of persons living in the United States today happens under the auspices of this law.Ever the civil libertarian, Randy considers the Patriot Act to be an assault on the civil liberties of persons in the US. Never mind that it is the sovereign will of the American people, expressed through their duly elected democratic representatives, that government authorities be given the power, the resources, and yes, the good auspices of the Law to prevent terrorist assaults on lofty towers using jetplanes full of fuel and innocent people. But try as hard as he does to portray some grievous breach of human rights in the US as a result of the Patriot Act and Bush's domestic security policies, I am struck by the fact that the only reason Randy even knows about the abuses, errors, misjudgments and bad decisions by the US administration during the five years since September 11, is because of the fully functioning democracy there, including even more original Leftists than him.
RANDY: The Bush government immediately went into a self-defense mode and vowed to punish not only the perpetrators of 9/11 but also the countries that harbor them. In the list were Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan and Iran. Intelligence operatives named Osama bin Laden as the mastermind of the hijackers, who were mostly Saudi nationals. But the hunt for Bin Laden led to Afghanistan, where the anti-Western Taliban held sway. Operating under a UN mandate, US-led coalition forces overthrew the Taliban, but failed to find Bin Laden, the war’s prime object. A new Afghan government was installed, but four years later, it is still incapable of enforcing its authority and defending itself. In the past few weeks, resurgent Taliban forces have seized control of towns west of Kandahar, engaging Canadian troops in fierce battles on difficult Afghan terrain. George W. Bush rationalized the war on Afghanistan as a fight to bring democracy to that country. That goal remains a dream. The US-led coalition forces now find themselves more and more playing the role of an occupying rather than a liberating army.Tomorrow is the Fifth Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. Perhaps it would be useful to look upon 9/11 as the "Pearl Harbor" of the War on Terror, because of one thing Randy IS correct: 9/11 had a powerful effect on the American psyche -- it was a massive and much-needed wake-up call. Indeed, a call to arms, which Randy unfortunately views through anti-American ideological lenses that were, ironically, manufactured in the United States of America by the American Left but perfected and adapted to local conditions by the Philippine Left, a scion, a descendant, a creation of Mark Twain and the US Anti-Imperialist League, and presently, an unconscious adjunct of the Far Left of the Democratic Party. But in essence, Randy's view of America is that of an imperialist power with a new excuse for world domination. How perfectly qauint but, ahem, archaic, but here is the rest of the spiel...
RANDY: The next target was Iraq, an oil-producing country under a secular dictator. Unable to obtain a UN mandate to invade Iraq, Bush sold the idea to the American people by linking Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 hijackers and by accusing his government of storing weapons of mass destruction. Subsequent investigations found no basis for either charge. The United States raised the flag of democratization over Iraq, expecting to be welcomed by the Iraqis as a liberating force. But Iraq today is in shambles, a society torn by civil war. After wasting billions of dollars and losing American lives, the United States faces the familiar problem of how to disengage without admitting it has failed. Bush continues to paint Iraq as a breeding ground of terrorists who must be stopped where they are so they would not pose a threat to America. This line is being rejected by a growing majority of the American people.Now what was I saying about the Philippine Left being an adjunct of the Democratic Party? Randy is clearly impressed by the achievements of Al Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers and is eager to declare Operation Iraqi Freedom a failure. "Torn by civil war" and "in shambles" after wasting billions of dollars and losing thousands of American soldiers, Randy is most interested in how America will cut and run. It is all Bush's fault in Randy's view, that Al Qaeda has unleashed an unrelenting wave of car bombings that is indiscriminately killing primarily Iraqis, not just Americans. He neglects the historic fact that Iraqis HAVE set up the first and only existing Arab democracy in the world, which happens to be fighting for its life as people like Randy crow about the travails and difficulties of that birth. It is true that Al Qaeda rushed into the vacuum created by Saddam Hussein's exit from power, and has nihilistically exploited ancient religious and ethnic divisions among the Iraqi people. But perhaps that is why the coming of democracy to an Arab country like Iraq has not been occasioned by more of the traditional Iraqi symbols of welcome: dancing, flowers and sweets. They are too busy fighting the terrorists who need a new home since losing the government of Afghanistan!
RANDY: There is a wealth of information to be found in the report of the 9/11 Commission. But the motives that led the hijackers to do what they did continued to puzzle the investigators. The commission ended its hearings in June 2004, and in one of these final hearings, the question of motives was raised again by its vice chair, Lee Hamilton. An interesting response to the question was given by FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald. This was caught on video but did not find its way into the commission’s report.Absurd? Tell that to the Afghan victims of the Taliban, the women under bourqas, or the parents of Indonesian Christian school girls beheaded by Islamic ideopaths, or women being stoned by fundamentalists for adultery. Here indeed is the heart of the fallacy that preys on much of the anti-American ideologues in Philippine society. It is the fallacy that there is a moral equivalence between an open and free democratic society and a radical Islamic fundamentalist State.
“I believe,” Fitzgerald declared, “that they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem. They identify with people who oppose oppressive regimes. I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States.” This is perhaps the most honest account of what agitates Islamic peoples all over the world today. US policy has refused to see American support for Israel against the Palestinian cause, and the cozy relations that America has maintained with oppressive but pro-American Arab regimes, as the driving force behind the anger of Muslims against America. Bush continues to peddle the lie that what fuels Islamic militancy is hatred for American freedoms. It is absurd.