Victims turning perpetrators is a well-known syndrome both in individuals and in groups. Repressive rulers often exhibit a similar pattern. Both Mahathir bin Muhammad of Malaysia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe appeal to the memory of colonial repression while engaging in repressive acts of varying severity. Perhaps the most poignant and difficult case is Israel. Jews were the victims of the holocaust, which can itself be ascribed, in part, to a process of victims turning perpetrators: Hitler rose to power by capitalizing n a wave of resentment caused by an onerous peace treaty and runway inflation.
He appealed to the German people’s sense f being victimized. Whether the Germans’ sense of victimization was imaginary or not, there can be no doubt that the Jews were victims in the literal sense. In the holocaust, many Jews went to their death helplessly and naively obeying orders, something I witnessed Personally as a thirteen-year-old in Budapest. * (Unfolding Freedom in Challenging Times). The policy of retaliation is not without its own logic. Terrorists need an organization and a source of outside support. If you can strike at the source, sometimes you can destroy the organization.
Israel, with its excellence intelligence and total dedication t self-defense, was very successful in fending off terrorism for many years and executed many brilliant counterstrikes. Yet terrorism has not been eradicated. It reappeared whenever more peaceful methods of protest failed to produce positive results. In the Second Intifada, in Jenin, it took nearly six months, during which time some fifty inhabitants were killed, before the first suicide bomber emerged from that town. Subsequently, Jenin became a major source of suicide bombers.
Jenin was then subjected to a siege in which twenty-three Israeli soldiers and an unknown number of inhabitants were killed. Under the Bush administration, the United States has also become a victim-turned-perpetrator, although the American public would be loath t recognize it. On September 11, America was the victim of a heinous crime and the whole world expressed spontaneous and genuine sympathy. Since then, the war on terrorism has claimed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than have the attacks on the World Trade Center.
* That comparison is rarely made at home: American lives are valued differently than the lives of foreigners, but the distinction is less obvious to people abroad. Author Schey states, “Because they have not been charged with any crimes, the victims of the Government’s post-September 11 nation-wide dragnet have few constitutional protections, and for the most part are unable to defend themselves because there are no known charges to defend Meanwhile, those who were detained had no access to representation.
The rules of justice were thrown to the winds as people were arrested left and right. Schey state emphatically,” “The rules of justice were abandoned when likely “thousands were killed in the war to topple those who oppressed them, and, of course, to find Bin Laden” (Schey, 27). Usually when victims turn perpetrators, they are unaware of what they are doing. This is the case with the American public today. Most people believe that terrorism poses a threat to our personal and national existence and that in waging war on terrorism we are acting in self-defense.
The idea that we may have been transformed from victims to perpetrators must be rather shocking to most of us. By contrast, the advocates of American supremacy within the President Bush administration knew what they were doing when they advised President Bush to declare war on terrorism. This can be most clearly demonstrated in the case of the Iraqi invasion. As mentioned earlier, many of the key players in the Project for the New American Century argued for invading Iraq as early as 1998 in an open letter to President Clinton.
After September 11, 2001, they claimed that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapon of mass destruction and had links with al Qaeda. They were prepared to argue the case even if it involved deception and outright lies. (Unfolding Freedom in Challenging Times). Clearly, there must have been other reason for invading Iraq; otherwise, the neocon ideologues would not have advocated it as early as 1998. Those reasons remained unspoken.
The invasion of Iraq had to be fitted into the context of the war on terrorism because that is what President Bush claimed a mandate to fight. The campaign of misinformation was led by President Bush personally, although he may also been deceived by the people around him; one statement does not exclude the other. The debate on Iraq was entirely stilted. The possibility that the United States was motivated by considerations such as ensuring the flow of oil supplies could not even be mentioned, because it would have been regarded as unpatriotic of worse.
(Wintour, 2002). The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush administration cannot be won, because it is based on false pretenses. The war on terrorism is more likely to bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists are invisible; therefore, they will never disappear. They will continue to provide a convenient pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy by military means. That pursuit, in turn, will continue to generate resistance, setting up a vicious circle of escalating violence.