It’s stories like these that show how contorted our state’s views on justice are. “Exemptions” to our founding principles such as Guantanamo paint a picture of blatant ignorance to the cultures outside of our own society’s generally accepted norms.
Air travel is something that we take for granted in the developed, and predominantly western world. We take trips for business, trips to get away from the realities of our monotonous daily lives every so often, and we take trips to see our love ones. America’s reliance on air travel significantly increased during the twentieth-century, despite the scattered events in our history which have made us think otherwise. Terrorism has without a doubt put a damper on the the travel-preferences of many American travelers in the last decade - amongst those instances, the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 come to mind.
While those tragedies have made many Americans think twice about traveling by air, many have gotten past those fears, and are now once again trusting the the medium and seeing sincerity in our friendly skies.
But whereas we in the West (mainly) have witnessed air travel related tragedies, many in other parts of the world have witnessed a frightening increase in air travel tragedies due to other reasons.
Just last week, we saw that horrific scene that took place at Bagram Air force base in rural Afghanistan. While a commercial flight, the crash took the lives of seven individuals who’s deaths could have been avoided. And while the official cause of the crash is still uncertain, many are pointing towards the idea of the accident being due to pilot-error, or just equally frightening, due to equipment-error. Whether the problem laid with the plane or in the pilot, this event signals two major problems that need to be addressed in the developing world.
First off, there needs to be better pilot, and crew training taking place. Many of these pilots and crewmen lack the training background of most Western pilots, such as those in North America and Western Europe. Many of those Western pilots have gone through years of military training and experience, as well as countless hours behind simulators on a continuing basis.
Another major flaw with air travel in the developing world lays with the many fleets of planes and other types of aviation equipment. While we here in America see new planes every couple of years coming out of the factories of aviation giants Airbus and Boeing, many of the fleets in the less wealthy parts of the world consist of planes from the Cold War Era. Just last year, it was reported that many airlines, such as those in presently economically-crippled Iran, have been relying on seemingly ancient planes to run their fleets. Due to this lack in sufficient flight technologies, we’ve witnessed many plane crashes that could have plainly prevented through the retirement and phasing-out of old equipment.
It is truly disgusting that we must see continue to see so many lives lost annually due to such a elementary issue. And it’s not just in Iran - not in the slightest. Such crashes have been taking place across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the rest of the Middle East.
So what should be done? Here’s an idea. Maybe instead of sending so many millions, trillions, of dollars abroad every year to fund weapons and other types of foreign military and law-enforcement endeavors, why don’t we send them some new jets? It’s certainly within our existing foreign-aid budgets (which is a whole other discussion in itself) - yet we can seem to direct any of those dollars towards the preservation and safety of human lives, in such normalized activities. It is far past the time to act on this matter. I’ll keep this all in mind when I take that weekend-trip back home from school this Friday, flying the much friendlier skies of the developed world.
Whilst trying to study for a finance exam at a local coffee shop today, I happened to overhear three middle aged men engaging in the age-old Israel v. Palestine political argument. However, what made this particular and presumably highly-caffeinated conversation unique to me was the fact that two of the men were actually from region, and the other was of a South American nationality.
One of the men, a physician who claimed to be an Israeli who actually still lives there, was of course championing the Pro-Israeli argument. He seemed to be favoring the democratic Israeli argument above all rest - pointing out that Israel is the only truly democratically-run state in the region.
The second man claimed to be Palestinian; one who had lived and grown up in Israeli territories until 1980, as well as one who had grown up with many Jewish (Israeli) peers amongst side of him. This man went by another very popular argument, evidently Pro-Palestinian, and alluding to the harsh, inhuman conditions dealt to the Arab-Palestinian peoples by the Israeli government.
The third man was more of a spectator to the argument, rarely talking - though every so often he nodded to the agreement of the Israeli gentleman.
What I concluded through observing the argument dominated primarily by the Israeli and Palestinian men, was that both men seemed to make comparisons to political spheres outside of their home region. The Israeli man would constantly return the example of Iran, in which he’d prolifically state the incompatibility of government and Islam. The Palestinian man, who repeatedly dodged this point, would make comparisons to human-right violations across the world, such as those being committed by the Syrian government onto the Syrian people, and Continental African cases.
And What did I realize? I agree with them both. Both men made very well-rounded arguments concerning the well-being of their peoples. I fully agree with what the Israeli man said - I am firm believer in secular government. While I wouldn’t openly state my opposition to any theocratic, and presumably oppressive governments myself, I can state my allegiance to the American system, or political systems that we see being run in France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, and beyond.
I also had to agree with what the Palestinian man said. He appealed to the more emotional, humanly tendencies found in most people. He seemed to counter almost everything said by the Israeli man with an emotional connection to the violence committed by the Israeli forces. While he would occasionally agree with the Israeli man, primarily on the matter of democratic election in Israel, he’d often return to objecting the defenses of the Israeli man based upon the existence of the Israeli state.
Surely I must not be the only one who thinks this way. What makes my stance so special? Why is that I see sensibility in what both of these men believe? That’s it - there is nothing special about me. Nothing at all. Not in the slightest. I’m just one, in the hundreds of millions of people educated in a culturally-diverse, open-minded society, governed by a secular government.
Now I’m by no means an advocate of imperialism and colonialism, but why cannot we see some individuals with such views, not like mine - but like the millions of people who have been properly-educated in open minded that promote free speech and idea-exchange come to power? And more importantly, why can we not have people come to power who are able see beyond the preexisting cultural and religious norms of their societies come to power? Yes, these people must be courageous enough to rally their causes in the face of their superiors, but surely they could achieve their goals through proper-backing.
I’m an admirer of nationalism. Wherever it may occur - Iran, Syria, Egypt, the many ex-colonies of Africa, so on and so fourth. I admire the passion of those who have sparked revolution in the face of imperialist oppressors and have stared down the barrel of colonial muskets.
We don’t need any more Arab Springs, Winters, or Green Movements. We just need time to soften the stubborn norms which have been set in concrete over the last 100 years. Surely with the constant advances in technology, someone’s going to invent some jackhammers and bulldozers strong enough to crack that concrete into pieces.
(AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
The most recent airstrike carried out by the I.D.F. on the town of Jamraya, Syria has made me think a little bit deeper about the calamity of the current on-going situation in that region. To me, it is important to see and understand the nature of conflict in the Middle East (referring to the more immediate area entrenching Egypt-Syria-Israel-Palestine-Jordan-Lebanon) first, before introducing Iran into argument.
As explained to me by one of my more recent professors (just further reinforcing an idea that I was already thinking about), Israel wants to be the sole power in the Middle East. Well of course, one (like myself) would assume that they already are, just basing their dominance on the gargantuan size of their military arsenal, and the history of conflict in the last century stemming from their belligerence. Then what makes this more recent Syrian episode so particularly painful?
Maybe due to the sympathy conjured by one of my professors, we should try and look beyond the Isareli government’s quest to gain reigonal singular superiority. The personal stories shared by my professor may have possibly struck a few notes of similarity between the Syrian culture and the culture of my parents’ home country. In any case, Syria is rich in deeply-rooted culture, and diversity that is seldom appreciate by the West. However, due to the agenda of the Syrian regime, many cultural sites and remnants of Syrian antiquity have been lost, or destroyed in its wake of this agenda.
In my opinion, this latest set of strikes made by Israel on Syria cite a fundamental error in the spectrum of today’s international policy in the Middle East. While in the last few years, the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has gained notoriety for the actions carried out by his regime on the Syrian people (mostly due to the now obsolete “Arab Spring” of late 2010), Israel has also continued to “assert” itself, and fight a “war” against the states that it believes threaten the very livelihood of the Israeli State.
While this pattern of Israeli aggression can be traced back to let’s say, 1948, it has also taken such a dramatic undertone by its global spectators that no matter if actions carried out by the Israeli Defense Forces are “right” or “wrong”, they’re just be carried out and must be the highlight of our attention in Middle Eastern politics. Israel doesn’t care about the livelihood of the Syrian people, who have been plagued by sectarian violence much like the case with other Arab states, or have been exposed to chemical-weapons by their own oppressive regime. It only cares about the “dangers” to its own state livelihood. Essentially, it doesn’t care about a young Syrian male who was gunned down by the state police for waving a peace banner in the air. It just wants to rest assured that interests have been met and those Hezbollah missiles manufactured in Iran are shredded to pieces. Israel doesn’t need your thanks and appreciation for its humanitarian efforts in Syria.
So in conclusion, it is clear to see that in today’s Middle East, it’s plainly acceptable [by the Western powers] to terrorize the (innocent) countrymen of your less-powerful neighbors, but not the (innocent) population of your own country - just in case you were planning to occupy an area somewhere within that region!