This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post.
Faisal Shahzad’s, now famous for his Times Square car bombing attempt, recently had his resume posted across the Internet. According to the document, he has “keen perception” and is a “good team player, and accomplished result-oriented employee.” As I read it, I could not help thinking that based on his May 1st performance as a want-to-be terrorist this description of him is far from accurate.
As I perused through the remainder of the document, I couldn’t help but notice his life’s experiences were, well, normal. Bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, a few jobs and excellent computer skills. He was on the Dean’s list and was awarded an academic scholarship. Overall, on paper, his seems to be an average young man with a job, a wife, and two little kids trying to make it in the world.
The difference between Shahzad’s life and that of an average American like me is that his birth country Pakistan, the place where his family resides, has been continually attacked by US-made “hellfire” missiles since 2004. Unmanned aircraft operated by the US military bombed Pakistan targets over 40 times in 2009 and 30 times in the first quarter of 2010. These bombs often miss their targets and 90% of the casualties are innocent human beings. Recently, the Obama administration approved the expansion of these strikes.
Political analysts are vehemently debating the international legality of these continued bombardments. Pakistan is a US ally. It has never attacked the US; why is the US permitted to continue targeting places laced with non-combatants? Pakistani military officials have repeatedly spoken out against the US incursions primarily because the US is overstepping its international bounds and, in essence, is responsible for thousands of displaced persons and a soaring number of civilian casualties.
According to sources, Shahzad was traumatized by the drone attacks during his last visit to Pakistan. He spoke in anger against them in unison with many who could not see the justification of such destruction. Upon hearing of his arrest, a cousin commented that it was a conspiracy “so that American can bomb more Pashtuns.”
Thankfully Shahzad’s attempt at revenge for US actions in Pakistan was one of an amateur. It was reported that he was so unorganized that he even left the keys to his getaway car in the smoking SUV. Despite his inability to learn how to cause mayhem, Shahzad reminds us that the world is experiencing a backlash from — no, not those who want to destroy our way of life or take our freedom — those who actually are infuriated by a US foreign policy that is causing so much death and destruction.
In a recent article about Admiral Mike Mullen, Fast Company‘s describes a meeting the Admiral has with New York’s top business people. As Mullen leaves dinner he is “unsettled” and says, “what I took away from the dinner was the sense that because of our fiscal irresponsibility, the system emulated by so many people is now being questioned.”
This is true when it comes to US foreign policy as well. Due to America’s irresponsible international policies, like those in Pakistan, the system emulated by so many people is also being questioned.
Although now, the parties who feel violated by the US government are responding pretty violently — on both a domestic and global level.
At the time of Shahzad’s arrest, a group of nine Americans from the Hutaree Christian militia group were being charged with actions similar to those of Shahzad — conspiracy to commit sedition and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. They were also charged with intent to kill a police officer and then detonate improvised explosive devices at the officer’s funeral in the hope of slaying scores of police officers in attendance and starting a “war” against the government.
(The irony here is that while Shahzad sits in jail to be tried as a terrorist never to be released, those nine “members” are now out on bail — no terrorist charges as of yet. No wonder the US is called hypocritical).
Shahzad is just one of many individuals out there fighting a system that is not inclusive, remotely fair, or works toward, at least intended, equality. The current system has a dual set of rules, segregates and divides leaving people disconnected from themselves, their communities and the world.
The irresponsible action of governments, at the financial and political expense of people, will no doubt suffer repercussions. Sadly, democracy is becoming a thing of the past while brutal crowds take over.
Hate groups in the US are growing in tandem. New movements like the Tea Party have members that are resorting to hostilities, some attacking government offices and others stockpiling weapons “just in case” they need to fight the government.
None of this violent behavior is either condoned or minutely OK. In fact, in Mullen’s words, it is “really worrisome.” I would say that it is horrifying. The truth is that is seems like Americans are addicted to solving problems by violent marginalization of individuals and groups and they really don’t mind if others do the same unless, like in the case of Shahzad, it’s against them.
One might say, “You reap what you sow.” Stockpiling guns for violence here or using them and selling them there (the US sold some $42 billion in weapons to developing countries last year) is not solving any of our national security problems. In fact, as the most recent Times Square incident tells us, it it getting worse.
Violence begets violence. It is time to move beyond this type of constant fear-based warring international system.
Our leaders, with our help, must create a new system. One that does not celebrate violence but abhors it. One that creates a place where people like Shahzad can envision something other than war and violence. If we don’t, the future will not only be worrisome; it will be deadly for all.