an area of the map for world news.
the November 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48,
the Bitter Question
John Kamau, Daily Nation (independent), Nairobi, Kenya,
Sept. 18, 2001.
was a picture on CNN of a person stranded between the smoldering
top floors of New York Citys World Trade Center, waving
a white cloth. Then it happened. The floors came tumbling
In the movie Independence Day, Manhattan is actually flattened
by extraterrestrials. In a new Steven Spielberg movie called
AI: Artificial Intelligence, the twin towers are brought down
by floods. But the CNN picture is realbrought live to
our offices and homes. Our humanity has been touched, and
fear stalks us like never before.
If it can happen to America, nobody is safe is
the common sentiment. How true!
So far, all those who preach peace seem to have disappeared.
Perhaps they are hiding in a corner like those souls in the
ill-fated planes who were pushed to the back and forced to
make their last calls.
If you consume the Western media, the emerging view is that
the United States must retaliate and that it must be given
full support. This question is never asked: If the innocent
are our concern, wont retaliation add to the toll of
And retaliation is not at all necessary. Suppose Americans
find out that the people who carried out the atrocities were
their own Timothy McVeighs? Would they retaliate on the whole
population of Florida or Kansas City, Missouri?
Fingers have started pointing at specific countries that are
traditional U.S. enemiesIraq, Libya, and Afghanistan.
We must all remember that millions of innocent people live
in these countries and did not choose to be born there or
to take part in planning to attack the Big Apple.
Whats more, no war, whatever our feelings, will silence
the terrorists resolve to strike once more. The United
States must get its foreign policy act together and stop living
in the ivory tower of politics, where it listens only to itself
or its blue-chip equals. Time has come for it to sit down
with its traditional archrivals and settle for peace.
The United States must promote goodwill and democracy all
over the world. Time and again, since the horrors of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, the world has asked the developed nations to
invest in peace rather than waste money on military might.
We may have dogs that can sniff out narcotics and bombs at
airports, but who ever thought that a kitchen knife was capable
of a holocaust? We may have missiles that are very smart and
nuclear weapons that can silence the world, but in the underworld
of terrorism, nonconventional weapons can change the way we
define the term security.
Flying, too, will never be deemed safe, for we are back to
the 1970s, when skyjacking reached new heights. And even after
we have taken enough measures to seem to guarantee safety,
nobody will ever feel safe sitting in an office unless we
inscribe the word peace into our humanhood.
Terrorist attacks, either by states or by fundamentalists,
must be stopped. And it is the civil world that can show the
way by preaching peace. The attack this time is not like the
Pearl Harbor incident in which the United States was attacked,
for on that occasion it knew its attackers. It knew where
to strike back.
This time the attackers are not well-defined and are scattered
all over. No bomb can silence them without sacrificing thousands
of innocent lives.
Since the Nairobi bomb attack in August 1998, Kenyans have
learned that mistakes can be made. Washington bombed and killed
innocent people at a drug factory in the Sudan and today admits
that it acted in error.
After the dust has settled, we would like to see a New World
The skyscrapers of Manhattan did symbolize political and financial
power. But, as one American newspaper said, The carefree
days are over. Today the New York megaliths are no longer
the symbolic declaration of American size, might, and reach.
From their ruins we need to build a world that preaches equality
of nationseven at the United Nations leveland
If the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor changed
the world order, the deeper wounds left by last Tuesdays
attack must make Americans think about their future relations
with the world. The usual housekeeping remedies will not work.
Not even bombing Afghanistan to ostensibly punish Osama bin
Laden will. It could even goad many other groups into staging
another show of terror.
We should not underestimate terrorists resoluteness
or mental capabilities. It is not money, military might, a
well-funded Pentagon, or the CIA that will save America. Only
thoughtfulness and respect for humanity will. The nation must
come down and talk to all of uspoor nations and rich
nations alike. If we bridge the equality gap, we can have
a safer world.
America should no longer come first: World security should.
To do this, the United States needs, above all, tolerance