The War on Terror should come home

Posted 01.25.11

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Recall -- for but a moment -- the horror of the attack on New York's World Trade Center ten years ago. Not only New York and the USA, but the world was stunned -- the audacity, the cold-blooded planning, the high drama of the event, captured by the media in detail -- and then replayed endlessly.

Think of the loss of life, from 2700 upward to 5000 deaths, depending on whether or not we count the indirect deaths -- firefighters who inhaled the toxic dusts, even those who died of a broken heart, having lost family members or having lost their hope for humanity's progress.

Next, think of the consequences of that attack and those deaths -- the American wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, the "war on terror" that institutionalized a home-grown terror against minorities, immigrants, Muslims, leftists, and radicals, and its attack on America's Constitution.

Those wars have by now cost the US over a trillion dollars, and may turn out to be a significant cause for the decline of America's economic and military empire>.

Quite the historical turning point, wasn't it?

Now consider a much less dramatic statistic: 10,400 people were killed in Quebec alone last year, 28 people dying per day, all from tobacco.

Tobacco is more dangerous than terrorism.

So why shrug? Is it because these are, in essence, self-inflicted deaths? No one holds smokers at gun-point and forces them to inhale. No one drives a plane full of aviation fuel into a crowd of smokers out by the back door. But if smoking is a form of very slow suicide, if we recognized it as such, shouldn't we take action. We already have programs to stop or lower suicide rates. We intervene in communities or in age groups that are at risk of self-destruction -- poverty-stricken First Nations communities, teenagers, bullied kids.

If smoking is a form of self-induced death, suicide, it is worse than poverty, bullying, or depression. And why don't we treat smoking for what it is -- a form of depression, leading in 50 percent of its cases to death, a long and painful death?

We have police on the roads against traffic deaths and against murder, we have heavy penalties to limit death and injury -- loss of drivers' licenses, big fines, etc -- yet statistics tell us here that one out of every two smokers will die from the vice. They tell us that 22 percent of high school students use tobacco, and that the earlier one starts the more difficult it is to quit.

Smoking is an addiction, and addictions are beaten not by police actions but by the addict recognizing reality and deciding to seek help.

Smoking is also big business, and tobacco corporations make millions from the drug, millions they can use to insulate their drug from criminal investigation. Imagine what the cocaine and heroin dealers could accomplish if they followed tobacco's political pressure tactics.

Yes, it is also easy for smokers to claim we all suffer from a million dependencies, from alcohol to sugar and fatty food. Yes, we can't -- and don't want to -- regulate everyone's lives.

We've just flushed over a trillion dollars fighting "terror", to little success. Just think if we spent a trillion bucks fighting tobacco addiction and helping people kick their habit? We would have saved, statistically, in the ten years since the Twin Towers, countless lives in Quebec alone. So why would we rather fight foreign peoples?

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/01.12