JUSTICE IS STRONGER THAN MONEY...
To the New York Times' Editor:
Mr. T. Friedman gives a number of good reasons for reducing the rewards offered by the US for bin Laden and his ilk (editorial New York Times, February 6, 2005). He misses the main reason, though, which is that justice is an ultimate value of mankind, and money is not. By brandishing its rewards, dead or alive, America is brandishing an inversion of all values, which disrupts genetics itself. The war against terror is a war about which values ought to be the most sacred. It is only understandable that Mr. Friedman, an American, forgot that point, since, in America, money buys really much more than in other civilized countries: health, justice (bail), politics, influence (official money making lobbying), education, connections (American meritocracy is a thing of the past).
Recent empirical psychoeconomics show that superior animals have an innate sense of justice. Justice is what humans do. The oldest and wisest civilizations had guessed this long ago, so they put justice above money. At least officially speaking. When those civilizations want something really bad, they call onto the highest and noblest senses people have, such as reason, or justice. They don't say, as the US government does: "we understand you, money is what you want, we are like that, so you are like that." America, of course, is different, because it was not founded the old fashion way, through an excruciating selection of the best and highest values. America was created by investors in 1607, as a "London company", and chartered with the mission of "perpetual war" (1608), and justice as she saw fit... Military superiority and an utmost disregard of some elements of civilization did the rest. Money created America, so why not the world?
America wants bin Laden really bad. Is America confident enough that her cause is so just, that justice will speak for her loud enough, and people will come to help? Apparently not. America, by claiming she wants to buy Mr. bin Laden for 50 million dollars, is saying than in her opinion, there is always a price which can be attached to people, and that money ought to appeal more to people than justice. But then, of course, should not one wonder that, if America views money as more appealing than justice, there should be an amount of money large enough to make America forget "9/11"? One may be outraged at this evocation. But then was not all that wealth in Iraq one of the early reasons evoked for going there? So by occupying Iraq, and its black gold, has not America rewarded herself, so as to forget bin Laden in Pakistan, and all his powerful Jihadist, thermonuclear friends?
Cynics could remember that America used to be a slave society, where given enough money, any non white could be bought (this was reaffirmed in 1857 by the US Supreme Court: "blacks" were property, even when they did not know it).
In any case, America is also saying that what comes naturally to her mind is that the highest value she can imagine in the universe, the value which ought to appeal to people is money first, and foremost, and that justice is a dirty word.
Of course all enemies of America are delighted to see America make their case so well. The enemies wanted to show that America bribes her way around, instinctively appealing to the basest instincts. They wanted to show that America has plenty of money to offer, and little justice. They wanted to show that America is dominated by money, and other materialistic superficialities, not those deepest values which make the human experience so fullfilling. The enemies of America wanted to show that America was not speaking with those subtilities which convince people of good faith. By offering its plutocratic rewards, America is acknowledging all of this, and that she has only one friend, and one way, money. The Jihadists are delighted. Rewards do not just help the egos of bin Laden and his friends, but the very mission the Jihadists gave themselves, which is that the sacred ought to vanquish money and a superficial vision of what it means to be human.
Pecuniary rewards, dead or alive, were well adapted to the base characters of the American West, long ago. When confronting a very old civilization which has very good reasons to be very upset by the very same exploitation schemes that the Roman republic had already implemented in the same region, 21 centuries ago, they are totally conterproductive.
Patrice Ayme', 2/7/2005.