BY MEREDITH MCKEE
Alternating between soft pleas and impassioned demands, Rev. Jesse Jackson argued Monday for a reorientation of U.S. policy to building relationships with developing nations the U.S. has traditionally shunned.
“There’s a need for our military, we have that,” Jackson said. “But it’s ineffective without diplomatic connections [because] behind the walls of those with whom we do not talk or trade are the [terrorist] camps. So the key to military success would be diplomatic connection, shared intelligence and shared economic security.”
Jackson presented his vision of the future of America after the September 11 attacks early Monday morning to a room packed with law students, local clergy and network news cameras.
Without diplomatic connections and shared intelligence, he said, this war on terrorism is “like shooting musketeers in the dark” where we cannot find or identify the enemy.
“If we knew who to hit and where, we would,” Jackson said. “But we have the military obstacle with the intelligence deficiency. We don’t know how or where to strike.”
Arguing that the United State’s unilateralism is returning to haunt us, Jackson noted Pakistan and its neighbors’ emphasis on economic security.
“What do Pakistan and Iran and India say to us?” he questioned. “We’ll relate to you militarily if you will talk with us diplomatically, share information with each other, intilligence, but, by the way, take off that debt burden. Cancel the debt and trade with us.”
The United States should also take advantage of the Taliban’s attitude, he said.
“If we choose to respect the world court as the living option, we must make breakthroughs with the Taliban, the religious leaders, who when they spoke did not hurl anti-American invectives, nor did they lead demonstrations against America,” Jackson said. “They just said show us the evidence. Yesterday Secretary Powell said he’s willing to make public the evidence. That is a critical breakthrough.”
A large part of forming a coherent policy for this war on terrorism, Jackson said, is defining “terrorism.”
“We cannot just be against being terrorized, and surely we must be,” he said. “We must be against terrorism in its many forms. It may be physical, fiscal, financial or political or military.”
In the past, Jackson said, terrorism has been used to control African-Americans, kill Jews in Germany and brutalize black South Africans. Any definition of terrorism should include all terror, whatever its form.
If the United States wants to prevent future terrorist attacks, the government must also address the international factors that breed violence and desparation, he said.
“Terrorism is not genetic, it is the end of the process,” Jackson argued. “The planes hitting the building was the end, not the beginning, of the process.
“We’re used to the East-West conflict, Marx and Adam Smith, capitalism, communism, … using the poor as pawns,” he continued. “But today we have a North-South fight. It’s a struggle in some sense between the surplus cultures and the deficiency cultures.”
Many of America’s current problems arise from the fact that the United States and its Western allies represent a very small fraction of the world’s population.
Conferences between the United States and Russia represent only one-eight of the world, Jackson said, and are “minority meeting[s].”
Predicting a necessary shift in the global balance of power, Jackson said that “there will not be many more meetings where the one-eighth has a meeting and the seven-eighths wait for the results of the meeting.”
Those seven-eighths of the world, where poverty causes the deaths of millions each year, often view the United States through a less-than-favorable lens.
“We say … we are the light on the hill, and we are,” Jackson said. “But those who get the light, they glow in it, and those who don’t perish because of lack of light in dark places, and lack of heat in cold places.”
Jackson compared the U.S.’s current situation to that of the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels.”
“As long as he [the giant] was strong, even if he was wrong, nobody would protest ’cause he was the giant,” he said. “But when he had the wreck and went down, the Lilliputians tied up his toes and feet and his fingers.
“So here’s the day when we are the giant facing the Lilliputians who are in some sense trying to get our attention,” Jackson continued.
In our current position, Jackson said that true unity of Americans, beyond unity in the fear of being attacked, is vital.
“We must be unified also in our love of neighbor, and the Arab-American and Muslim and Sikh and those who wear beards and who look Muslim and look Arab — the flag must protect them, too,” he said.
Though his message was one of serious concern, Jackson noted positive changes in American policy.
“Back in February we sent a team to Europe and the Europeans said stop capital punishment and don’t revive Star Wars and don’t kill the treaty, and we said no,” he said. “At the South Africa global conference on racism, we came late, didn’t take our seat and left early. We wouldn’t do the same thing today we did just two weeks ago.
“The profoud changes toward coalitions and building ties is a step in the right direction,” he concluded.
Jackson also mentioned the importance of addressing the few high school students in the audience.
“If a war really does explode, many of you will not go because you are in Harvard Law School,” he said. “And those who responded to the president’s speech last week in Washington, the members of Congress and the Cabinet, will not go because of their ages and status. But the high school seniors will go, so they must have some measure of preparation among other things as they usher rather quickly into adulthood.”