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U.S. should hit the books

Dolores Diaz | Wednesday, November 5, 2003

America seems to have begun to model one of the characters in e.e. cummings’s war story The Enormous Room – le Directeur.

As head of the prison, le Directeur knows well how to use fear to maintain power. He instills this fear through three means: his subordinates, punishment and direct contact with prisoners.

The United States aims to instill fear in terrorists through its subordinates by using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., Secretary General Robertson invoked Article V of the alliance’s constitution, which states that an attack on one is seen as an attack on all. America intends to strike fear into the hearts of terrorists but ends up intimidating its allies by pressuring them into upholding its views. The fear America wishes to instill in terrorists may only get there by making our allies nervous and escalating the atmosphere of fear worldwide.

The prison’s most dreaded form of punishment was known as cabinot, or solitary confinement. By designating Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” the U.S. casts out these countries from the civilized world. However, this fear is felt by the other countries of the world, as well. The fear of isolation is present to countries that must be cautious of being associated with countries designated by a superpower as an “axis of evil.” It becomes a playground conflict on a dangerous scale: Be friends with the enemy of a superpower and risk your own prosperity.

Finally, the greatest fear le Directeur instills comes from direct contact with his prisoners. The ultimate fear invoked by the U.S. is the threat of war. Not only has the U.S. war on terrorism and the fear associated with it touched the U.S., its allies, enemies and the rest of the world, but has real links to the war in Iraq which continue to affect the world arena.

What is it that le Directeur can teach the U.S. about the war on terrorism and the fear it creates? Although the U.S. still has what we hope are a number of allies, the fact that they have been forced to view our actions with caution could weigh on future relationships. CNN commented in February of 2003 that foreign nations are beginning to consider the U.S. a bigger threat to world peace than Iraq.

Let us learn from le Directeur. The U.S. needs the support of foreign countries and to be seen as logical and dependable. Clear objectives and real enemies in the war on terrorism would help to make foreign support a reality, work to heal foreign relations and ease fears. It is only once we identify the disastrous potential of America that we may find a way to avoid this end.