By Jon Pattee
Senior English Editor – Albawaba.com
It seems unnecessary to observe that the terrorist crimes in New York and Washington are unforgivable, and that the masterminds behind them should be hunted down.
But as the US press and opinion polls fill with cries for revenge – even if innocent civilians are killed – Americans must stop and think. Check out the picture to the right. You are looking at innocent civilians killed in cold blood by American soldiers. It's Vietnam in 1968, but it could be Afghanistan tomorrow. Men, women, children and – yes – babies. This is what the opinion polls are approving. Is it what Americans really want?
If this appeal for a different strategy fails to convince, then look at it from another angle. Self-preservation.
The crimes of Black Tuesday do demand a serious, in some way lethal response. But the US president can’t be allowed to act like the trigger-happy, macho morons in science fiction movies who end up getting nearly all their friends slaughtered.
You know the ones. Their name is Capt. Jackass. They get briefed by Starship Command: “OK, we’re under attack by alien monsters. They’re scary and dangerous. But you can’t shoot’em – they just split into a million pieces, and each of those pieces grows into another monster. We’ve gotta figure out a different strategy.”
And what does Capt. Jackass do? The first alien he sees, he whips out his cool big gun and blows it to smithereens. He kicks some ass. Soon after, he and most of the spaceship crew get eaten alive by a million toothy newborn aliens.
Americans like these kinds of movies – lots of dead people, lots of excitement – but they’re going to stop liking them when the plot shifts from outer space to their schools, offices and playgrounds.
President George W. Bush is about to sucker America into exactly this kind of plot. Let’s rid the world of evil! Let’s blow the bastards to smithereens!
What President Jackass doesn’t understand is that alien monsters don’t MIND being blown to smithereens – it’s how they REPRODUCE.
Think of Osama bin Laden’s group – if they are responsible, which no one has proven yet – as the alien monster. Wham! Blown to smithereens! Good triumphs over evil! Pow!
Except for one very small problem. The amount of firepower President Jackass plans to turn on this particular group is guaranteed leave Afghanistan – and maybe Pakistan, maybe other countries – strewn with the bodies of innocent people.
Americans may hear little about it, because the controls on the press are likely to be even tighter than they were during the last Gulf War. But the rest of the world will see, in their papers and on their television screens, the burnt bodies of innocent people.
Dead people with family members all over the Middle East, which is already a seething cauldron of humiliation thanks to Israel’s brutal 34-year military occupation of land it conquered from Palestine in 1967.
Devout people who share a religion with approximately a quarter of the world’s population, who know that America has been backing the Israeli occupation with billions in military aid and missiles with names like “Hellfire.”
Terrified people who, just like the World Trade Center victims, have a right to live, regardless of the stupid decisions of those ruling over them.
Innocent people who, in being martyred by President Jackass, could become the seeds of a terrorist onslaught that will have Americans looking back on Black Tuesday with nostalgia.
Decades of Israel’s borderline crazy, fundamentalist claims to conquered Palestinian land have pushed the Middle East to the point where a heavy-handed attack could explode it into a million factions, splinter groups and terrorist organizations.
At this point, it is fair to ask: “Who are you to challenge the wisdom of brave President Jackass, who spent the Vietnam War courageously guarding a perilous post in the Texas Air National Guard? If you’re so damn smart, what should we do?”
Well, for starters, let’s try to stay away from that particular course of action which is most likely to make matters worse.
Me, I’m not a pacifist, and I’m not advocating that America stand around gaping while terrorists prepare another attack. But I also don’t get paid to figure out how to beat terrorists – unlike the legions of CIA, National Security Council and Pentagon employees who take home millions in US tax dollars every year.
Maybe these public servants can figure out a better strategy, one that won’t leave us drenched in the blood of innocents, while fighting off swarms of new terrorist groups, each one named after a child or a woman blown to pieces by massive US air strikes in Afghanistan and beyond.
They could start by reviewing the two and a half-year study that a bipartisan Congressional panel on national security presented to the White House this January. The report recommended some far-reaching measures to cope with what the authors warned was America’s ever-expanding vulnerability to terrorist attacks.
Salon.com has reported that in May, the Bush administration shelved this particular report, brushed off the authors, announced that Dick Cheney would “study” the issue some more, and put FEMA – not exactly a powerhouse organization – in charge of the problem.
Well, that’s eight months wasted. Anyone want to bet that security could have been tightened up a little bit in that timeframe?
Maybe there are still some useful ideas in that report. If not, the US could try something really novel – refusing to further support Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land, which for decades has been producing record amounts of martyred innocents, Arab outrage and anti-American sentiment.
America could even try pressuring Israel to withdraw from the conquered land, which would relieve a lot of pressure in the Middle East and possibly lead to fewer martyred innocents, less Arab outrage, and diminished anti-American sentiment.
We could also decide to not to shovel any more US tax dollars into training and promoting psychotic killers, as America did with Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, and bin Laden himself.
While carrying out this kind of long-term strategy, the already richly funded US intelligence apparatus could devote itself to picking off terrorists, following a plan slightly more refined than “kill’em all, and let God sort’em out.”
Admittedly, this all sounds tiresome, especially when blowing everyone to smithereens seems much more direct and final. Not to mention that carnage creates a lot of televised drama to obscure the fact that President Jackass buried a report urging stricter counter-terrorism measures.
But “tiresome” is vastly better than “likely to get more Americans killed by terrorists while murdering lots of innocent bystanders in the process,” which describes President Jackass’ moves to rush in with guns blazing.
So Americans have to stop and think. The next time the opinion pollster rings up, think about the picture at the top right of this page. If not for the sake of innocent women and babies, than for the future of your own children.
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