Monday, September 11, 2006


It is interesting that the Casa is located on 11 de Septiembre. Naturally folks in the USA think of our September 11, but the Argentine September 11 is to commemorate the passing of nineteenth century President Domingo Sarmiento who was known for his support of education. I am sure that the US media is filled with various perspectives on the day and on the five years since the attacks. What I would like to share is some of the commentary from the Buenos Aires Herald. The Editorial entitiled "9/11" first chided the Argentines and the government for their tepid response to the attacks, but closed with the following paragraph:

"Yet five years later the international response to 9/11 does not look much better - Washington in particular is guilty not so much of oversimplifying the issue (but rather of) the error of confusing conventional warfare against perceived rogue nation-states with effective action against an unconventional and global terrorist challenge. Big Brother methods are also a terrorist victory - rather than fighting fire with fire, the civilized world should retain its faith that the open society and globalization which the terrorists turned to their advantage can also be used against them."
There was also a more detailed op-ed piece entitled "9/11: Five Years On - US Foreign Policy in the Shadow of September 11" from which I have lifted the following quotes that reflect the tenor of the article:
"If anniversaries are good for anything it is as an opportunity for sober reflection and analysis. . .(the attacks gave) a sense of direction and purpose to a Bush administration that previously had defined its foreign policy agenda in largely negative, anti-Clintonian terms. According to the campaign rhetoric of 2000, a Bush-Cheney administration would avoid half-baked humanitarian interventions of the Kosovo and Somalia type and focus instead on rigorous defense of US interests. By September 2001 it remained uncertain what these interests were and what their defense would amount to in practical terms. The rhetoric of democracy promotion and security projection represented a merger of the two dominant schools of post-Cold War US foreign policy thinking. . . In place of Communism, Islamic extremism was now installed as the monolithic, global threat against which the US foreign policy and military apparatus must be aligned. . . Although a fascinating intellectual exercise, the Bush Doctrine has been a mitigated disaster in application. . . Although the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns have been failures if judged in terms of democracy promotion and security projection, the gradual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan even as the country regresses back into chaos suggests that these were never the real priorities of the US invasion. . . The idealistic sounding elements of the Bush doctrine were always secondary to the 'realist' preoccupation of attacking perceived threats to US security. (For example) in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration has cooperated with and sought to protect compliant autocratic regimes. . . Having turned democracy promotion into such a central rhetorical theme, however, the Bush administration is no longer able to admit publicly that democracy is acceptable only if its outcomes fall within certain proscribed boundaries. . One of the major lessons learned from the September 11 attacks and their aftermath is that democracy cannot be spread around the world at the point of a gun. For this reason, the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions are likely to represent a bloody and regrettable historical tangent rather than a sign of things to come."
Of course, every newspaper has its bias, and my initial impression is that the Herald is influenced by the New York Times, e.g. they publish Times pieces such as Thomas Friedman's recent analysis of Iraq. Some of you may know that Chile also has its 9/11, commemorating the 1973 bloody military coup of Augusto Pinochet toppling elected President Salvador Allende. Pinochet remains secluded and under indictment for human rights abuses and tax evasion.


Tim Rice said...

This analysis of US foreign policy sounds potentially accurate to me. At the very least, US foreign policy under Bush has been a disaster in Iraq and increasingly so in Afghanistan.

Jonathan said...

Dad. Interesting post. Grandma said that your "spanish words" throw her off! I look forward to hearing about your religion and science class, let us know when that starts.
(posting as jonathan)

Swartzendruber said...

Tim - I agree with your assessment, but many of us Menno Linker types would. Since our classes are now beginning, it will be interesting to hear the perspectives of the students.

Swartzendruber said...

Dear Rachel-Posting-As-Jonathan!! You will have to help Grandma with her Spanish :-o Classes begin tomorrow, but I will try to get an entry or two in about our educational field trip. Love ya.