By Brian Pape
It is clear now after almost ten years of war with Afghanistan that the United States has had a very dominating, pervasive, and sometimes unpleasant attitude towards the country and its people, across the globe. The images of the war shown to us here was very different from the ground reality. All we saw were our men and women invading other countries. What was not shown were the problems faced by the locals there.
This is an issue close to me since I personally never cared for politics, particularly international relations. It all began in my freshman year of high school. I remember feeling very safe and secure, sure that our nation would never be forced to its knees and nothing would stop its growth. I would proudly recite the pledge of allegiance, assured that our country was on top of the rest unless something ridiculous and drastic occurred. Little did I know that this very event would occur a few days into high school. As I sat in my history class, ironically world history, we were interrupted by a PA announcement. This was taking place in my high school in New Jersey only a few miles away from New York City with several parents of students at our school in or around the World Trade Center.
On the PA was our principal saying that we needed to stop everything we were doing and that there had been a serious incident at the World Trade Center. If anyone’s parent had been in the city they would be called one by one to the office below and informed of the situation. We all looked at each other and wondered what could’ve happened. And then one by one throughout the day people were called to the office. Some would then come up screaming and crying. I had no idea what was going on. I knew it wasn’t good, whatever it was. In our next class our teacher informed us of terrible news and that the World Trade Center was gone and the Pentagon had been hit by some type of explosion. Some students ran out of the room and once again were crying. I then realized how devastating this all was and how parents of students here had just died. Throughout the day, it went from a state of alarm to a state of serious anger. There were cries of people including me of ‘Let’s go to war! Let’s kill them and get revenge!’ But who were ‘they’? There was no country’s flag on the attack. Who do we blame and go after?
A month later, after we all knew what had happened, we heard that we were going to war. This was in October of 2001. It is now 2011. It has been ten years since this war began. I would have never thought that this is where it all led to. More American soldiers have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than in terrorist attacks, not to mention the thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can only imagine how young students in those countries would have felt when they were told over a P.A. that their country had been invaded and soldiers, tanks, and planes had been spotted near by. That they needed to get home to their parents or take cover before the occupiers could hurt them. I can only sympathize with those people who were probably about my age and are wondering the same thing. How long will this army be in my country? How do they think this will help the “war against terror?” Who do we blame and how do we get revenge?
We have accomplished some of our goals. Osama, the declared ring leader and mastermind of the attack is dead but the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq are ongoing. All this compels us to think, will one day, we be safer, by making others unsafe? Isn’t this situation making more terrorists? I hope, 10 years from now, we would not have created a new batch of people who would keep this cycle of terror on both sides continued and the original objective of peace and security would just turn into another senseless conflict with a series of attacks that will ultimately never bring peace or security to either side of the conflict; just leaving people asking “Who do we blame? How do we get revenge?” like I did almost 10 years ago.