In my previous article, I touched on the events of September 11 and discussed the reasons behind why we cannot forget them. I did not pen the article because I thought people would somehow actually forget that it took place, but instead wrote it with the intention of urging people to retain some piece of the emotion that they felt that morning.
Reflection and self-awareness have long been regarded as the most important self-development traits a human can partake in. Reflecting on experiences forces people to acknowledge them and ultimately allows them to make sense and learn from them. People who do not actively apply this practice are in effect stumbling blindly through life and are bound to make the same mistakes over and over.
This mindset is extremely relative when it comes to the events of September 11, and in the closing statements of my previous article I concluded:
“…it is up to us as the custodians of the 9/11 legacy to never ever forget that day. It is up to us to uphold the memory of just how brazen that attack was and to not let time dilute the fact that thousands of innocent people were needlessly murdered. Whilst I understand that the younger generation may not have the same emotional attachment as those of us who were adults at the time do, we must maintain an unwavering commitment to fighting this ideology and all those who purvey it. We must continue to drown out those adult voices who have forgotten just how significant that fateful morning was as well as those who have lost the appetite for war.”
“We must not forget that violence is sometimes the only answer and that it is the only language that these cowards comprehend. Our ideals of freedom and democracy do not translate into their primitive way of thinking, nor will they ever. Trying to force a square peg into a round hole will never work. We should stop being apologetic for the fact that Western civilization has the most advanced and strongest nations in the world. We need to focus on making our identities great again without feelings of remorse or guilt attached to our achievements and conquests.”
“Ultimately, it is policies of appeasement backed by our moral superiors which will benefit no one except our enemies. This is why, regardless of how much time passes, we must maintain an unwavering commitment to this fight and must never forget what transpired on the morning of September 11, 2001.”
Now that I’ve set the tone, I am going to address a comment that I have the misfortune of reading or hearing on a regular basis. Although I understand that Australia is one of the most geographically fortunate countries in the world, I do not agree that this warrants the belief that every conflict that occurs outside of our borders—all of them, obviously—is not “our war.” This is an extremely narrow viewpoint promoting the impractical concept of isolationism.
Isolationism as a foreign policy is fraught with problems and is one that few modern and developed nations tend to favour. Rather than furthering our national interests on an international stage, isolating and disengaging from global affairs has the real potential to allow certain issues to end up on our doorstep unchecked.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen and heard people question Australia’s involvement in the Middle East and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. People’s default rhetoric usually follows the same line of questions:
“What direct threat do they pose to us?”
“Why are we fighting America’s war?”
Well, despite Australia’s cosy geographical locale, we are not immune from the violence and devastation that current ideological conflicts are causing our own civilian population. We have had Islamic extremists kill and specifically target us based on our championing of ideals such as freedom and democracy. It is essentially our way of life that they makes us targets, not our geographically defined borders.
If we take that as a given, then it is also safe to say that our war-weary doubters can no longer classify our current commitments as “America’s war.” If a country like Australia promotes and practices the ideals of freedom and democracy—the exact ideals that make us targets—then we are now by default included in this war whether we like it or not. Sitting back and pretending that Islamic extremists are going to respect the geographical boundaries of countries is about as believable as expecting them to wear uniforms in combat.
The simple fact is, wars are not exclusively fought between “countries.” History has no shortage of examples of these types of wars taking place, and we are now facing as close to what Samuel Huntington aptly predicted in 1992 as a “clash of civilizations.” Extremist religious ideologies—and the acts that took place because of them—were what forced the U.S. into Afghanistan in the first place. It wasn’t the country of Afghanistan that they were fighting, but the Taliban who seized power and turned it into a terrorist safe haven.
Afghanistan can be seen as simply the staging ground, but the U.S. ultimately committed to war there in retaliation for September 11. The current wars in Syria and Iraq are again based on tackling a violent ideology that challenges the very foundations upon which our great nations are built. We need to stop thinking of these wars in the traditional sense of having a beginning, middle, and an end. This war will never actually end, but that doesn’t mean we should ever give up and simply stop fighting it.
To do so and to leave a group like IS go unchecked would be an incredibly dangerous path to follow. Similarly, I believe that those who say that this war is not “Australia’s war” are promulgating a narrow-minded and an incredibly reckless point of view. I can all but guarantee that these same people would have been 100 percent supportive of military action in Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11.
What they appear to have failed to do is reflect and maintain some piece of the emotion they felt at the time of those attacks. They have let their hatred and commitment to crushing this ideology subside with time and through war weariness. They are now actually contributing to the problem through their unwillingness to support the type of action required to destroy these extremists. We have never shied away from our global responsibilities, nor should we start now. Our way of life, our ideals, and our freedoms are at stake. Quite simply, I’m not sure what else would constitute “our war” if this doesn’t.