Writing related to the 9/11/01 incident. Oldest at bottom, newest at top.
1. Sitting around the dinner table we came up with the following possibilities to resolve some aspects of the problem:
We need a UN peacekeeping force in Israelestine. Has to be made up of neutral troops. Suggest Chinese, South African, Mexican. Paid for by the interested parties: (Saudi) Arabia, United Jewish Appeal, the Vatican, etc. (The minority opinion at the table was to grind up all of the various holy sites in the region and put the dust in bottles to sell to tourists.)
2. I got a letter from an old friend to the effect that he almost had a heart attack after learning I actually supported the government about something. I remind him that I have not shrunk from criticizing the stupidities that have accompanied our government's response to the INCIDENT. I started on 9/12. I will continue. It will be very easy for the ongoing actions to go wrong, for new security measures to be misused, for the effort to be unsuccessful, etc. But I find myself thinking, to my ongoing amazement, that our government's actions so far have been, for the most part, in the acceptable range. By that I mean that they are substantially in accord with my own thinking: moderate.
3. That said, I offer the following as stupid, avaricious, mendacious, etc.:
-Ongoing attempt to implement missile defense. Some slight possible improvement in a recently voiced implication that Bush will attempt to get Putin on board before actually doing anything. Have to wait and see.
-Ongoing attempt to drill for oil in Alaska. By me, only with a serious attempt to move away from fossil fuels as the basis of our energy use. Without that component it is nothing more than a deceitful money grab.
4. Some things I just heard on BBC indicate that there is indeed something brewing in Saudi Arabia. The Hajj is in November. Watch carefully. Fill up your tanks now. Maybe even buy some oil futures. Maybe I will if I can find some spare cash.
My method of analyzing the "news" is to listen to the silences. This is what I heard
1. Iran said the actions are "unacceptable." Why? Because it was not a UN action. From Iran that is a statement of support. They are in the coalition.
2. China said it hopes we can all get back to normal soon. From China that is raving support.
3. From the official Arab press not a word so far. That has to mean three things:
b. they think bin Laden did it
c. there actually is a coalition including the Arab states - I was wrong
4. If the Arabs think he did it then he actually did do it.
I feel funny backing an American military venture. I have never had the opportunity to do that before in my lifetime. With a continued vigilant and jaundiced eye I watch the developments, ever vigilant for the arrogant stupidity I have seen so many times in the past. So far this time I have been satisfied - they (our American leaders) seem to be trying to be careful. I wish them and us well.
There is a problem. Every Arab I have talked with thinks "Israel did it." Admittedly a small sample, but from all over the world. One told me that that's the buzz in Arab media. To buttress their opinion they site the prior non-specific warning given by Mossad to the CIA (which I heard about - briefly - on USA media in the first days after the INCIDENT and haven't heard lately), the story that no Jews died (totally untrue), and the fact that Israel has killed Palestinians at a significantly higher rate after than before. They say Israel did it to draw the USA into its "war on the Arab people."
Non-Arab Muslims that I have talked with (an even smaller sample) do not subscribe to the Arab version. Iranians and Turks seem to share "our" explanation and assignment of blame. But generic Iranians and Turks have generically disliked Arabs and vice versa for 1000 years.
It is as if there are two different worlds coexisting on the same planet. Obviously there is no "coalition," at least as far as including Arab states is concerned. They are pretending (in English) to go along because they have to (Egypt, Arabia) or they are keeping their mouths shut (Syria, Libya) on the chance that some advantage may be gained or they are mouthing platitudes and lies like Sudan in the hope that we'll back off and let them continue their genocidal war against their southern citizens.
One naturally hesitates to call 70 million (Arab) people paranoid schizophrenics, but I need not experience qualms in regards to governments and news media. It seems that every Arab government tells one story to its people and another to the rest of the world. Our American government cannot fail to know this. Thus the disappointing conclusion: every government involved in this piece of history is lying. A typical way to start a war.
Israel is playing the part of spoiler. The term "loose cannon" has no clearer definition in this case. It is being utterly unhelpful. Israel is in the unenviable position in which every short term gain will yield a long term loss. But what can one expect from the butcher of Shatila? Perhaps we will someday find threads linking Sharon to the murder of Rabin. Well, right there in the old testament is God calling his chosen people stiffnecked and proud.
The Arabs are in a terrible position as well. When the oil is gone they will have nothing. Every Arab government but one that has oil squandered it on corruption. The exception was Iraq, and it lost its carefully developed infrastructure on a Napoleonic crapshoot of its dictator. Every Arab government must at all costs distract the attention of its people from its governmental miscreancy, thus the propagation over these decades of the gross distortions of the outside world that one sees in the Arab media.
I am sanguine. The layout on the chess board is not particularly auspicious at the moment.
We don't have a "Ministry of Information" as in the former USSR or a "Ministry of Propaganda" as they had in Nazi Germany, nevertheless we Americans are being heavily propagandized at the moment. We hear and see stories of the Afghan people painting them as ready for change, Taliban deserting, watching movies, the Northern Alliance as desperately poor but doughtly, etc. Yesterday I saw a photo of some Afghan refugee girls who were light-skinned Causasoids with faces just exactly like my kid's classmates. It is all opinion-molding non-fact stuff. I'm not asserting the truth or non-truth of any of it, but it is equally likely that many refugee girls have faces indistinguishable from Chinese or Pakistanis, and I can't help forming the conclusion that Sinoid faces would be calculated to produce a different reaction among "average" Americans and were therefore not selected for dissemination.
From this sympathetic treatment I draw the conclusion that there will indeed be some kind of conventional military activity, probably the kind of stuff we do so well - air strikes. I assume the actions would be against Qandahar rather than Kabul, at least the ones they show us.
There is also, or was last week, a bunch of fuff about the possibility of chemical or biological attacks with no mention whatsoever of nuclear. I find that strange, as the lack of security of old Soviet chem & bio facilities is matched or exceeded by the lack of security of nuclear material. From this selective silence I draw the unpleasant conclusion that nuclear material has already been diverted. Pretty stupid of our government and that of the Chinese not to have bought all of it (I'm sure they both got some) when they had the chance.
The question of where the nukes would be used is interesting. Application to American territory would serve as justification for a retaliatory nuclear strike somewhere, so I would consider that a suitcase nuke would not be used here. Instead, it could be used on an ally, perhaps after some suitable diversionary provocation. The one that seems juiciest to me is that there be some kind of serious non-nuke hit on Israel, perhaps blowing up the Yad Veshem or the knesset (they can't go for the Wailing Wall because the retaliation would involve the Dome of the Rock), followed by the nuking of Riyadh or Jeddah or maybe even Mecca, during the Hajj for best effect, and this could then be blamed on the Jews. Some significant percentage of Muslim man-in-the-street types evidently believe that the INCIDENT was engineered by Jews, that no Jews died in the attacks (not true), etc. Or at least I have been so propagandized, having heard Jordanians, Egyptians, etc. trying to spin that yarn in broken (i.e. contemptible) English on the radio.
This threat might be the source of the Saudi government's double game in the realm of public relations. It will help in the fight against terrorism, but it won't let it's soil be used to launch attacks on Muslims. With the ongoing exception of Iraq of course. It is aware that it is an incredibly weak government, wholly dependent on our support for its survival. It's only hope in the long run is to become a constitutional monarchy, but it is likely incapable of taking that course. If it were to nationalize the oil revenues and broaden the power base to Arabians other than the Saud family and friends, turning Arabia into a real country rather than a private estate... But I don't think they can force themselves to do it. The emir of Kuwait couldn't, and the Sauds have more at stake.
Back to the current action. Politically, it's a go. Russia and China are on board for "something." We know that Russia will get silence about whatever they do in Chechnya. China will obviously get a period of silence about everything from Tibet to smuggling. But there is money involved as well, and there is obviously a military component that is top secret and I know nothing about it. I imagine, were we to dig into that, we would find a sector of extremely close cooperation amongst the three militaries that has been going on for years and will show some fruit in the coming months. Best kept secret in the world.
Militarily, nothing serious has happened yet. Recon only. I would imagine there has been an Afghan special forces unit in cold storage for years, we know nothing about it, we never will. There are probably ethnic SF units of all kinds in deep cover, never mentioned to anyone. This unit is probably one of several on the ground at the moment. What are they doing? Well, perhaps we may wake up one morning and find that mullah Omar is in custody.
I have been an enemy of the Taliban since the beginning. They have made an organizational error in that they have a supreme leader who has sequestered all of the charisma. Despite his reliance on "God" Omar is really only a traditional strongman. Cut the head and the body disintegrates. Strength of democracy, weakness of monarchy. That group of thugs can be pushed out if handled right. That will involve, among other things, never giving them a target to shoot at.
If this upcoming campaign is accompanied by a truly titanic aid package it has the possibility of turning out OK.
Not discussed in this piece are the civil liberties and religious eschatological realms of discourse. Both are necessary to a full airing of the overarching issue, which is essentially that of the survival of chordate animals on this planet. Well, another time.
If you send me your well reasoned comments I will publish
them if you want - with or without your name and email address as you order.
1. That Sudan should be accepted into the anti-terrorist "coalition" is a joke. That murderous government of lying creeps is laughing its head off.
2. The "friendly" Arab dictatorships and pseudo-democracies are a major part of the problem. Fat, corrupt thieves pretending to be leaders. None of them are any good, the best, in Tunisia, still undemocratic dictators.
3. Disengenuous of us to say we have no control over what Israel does, we pay approximately ALL of its bills. It needs a leash & a choke collar. Freeze funds until it stops the "settlements." Full civil rights for non-Jews. Are they a democracy or are they a Jewish state? Can't be both, and the latter is not viable in the long run.
4. On the other hand there is no peace faction on the Arab side, only "nowists" versus "laterists." How can Israel ease up when they see Arabs saying "We want peace" in English and "Kill them all" in Arabic? Arab peaceniks keep their mouths shut & don't organize lest someone kill them.
5. The 3 religions that Muslims call "people of the book" - Jewish, Christian, Muslim - each partake of a pernicious doctrine that they are the only ones that are correct, only their followers can go to "heaven," and other supremacist & exclusionary claptrap. There will never be peace until they grow out of that doctrine, and since they have all closed themselves to new prophecy they cannot grow. Are we going to allow our precious faiths to become blights on our future? From where I stand there is not an atom's worth of difference between them. Billions of people in a closed box, each looking at a single wall, claiming that their wall has the only door. I must write again on this subject.
LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM
THE ONLY KIND OF WAR THAT CAN BE WON
Is a war of kindness.
A thousandfold increase in Peace Corps kinds of activities. Free medicine. Free schools. Free water purification equipment. Build infrastructure for people. Gets more bang for the buck then blowing things up. Especially in Afghanistan, where everything is already destroyed anyway.
Force should be used to impose a settlement in Israel/Palestine. We have the key to Israel's acquiescence. If we shut off the money that country would die. When we tell them to sign on the dotted line they will. Send in the UN to force the peace, confiscate arms, lock the negotiators in an un-airconditioned room without a bathroom, keep them there until they sign something.
Saudi Arabia must be reformed. That personal name at the beginning of that country does not belong there. Arabia should be a monarchy like Denmark or a parliamentary republic. The goop it's sitting on top of is the key to the current world political-economic system and it is run by a bunch of self serving uncles and cousins who pull strings behind a senile figurehead king. If Arabia is not reformed democratically it will be the Islamic Republic of Arabia. Think we're having trouble now? That can of worms must be opened. We could occupy Arabia, or at least the oil installations, for some short number of years, but if we played the situation correctly they could transform themselves. The Sauds have to go.
Meanwhile, it is essential to move past oil. Any more dillydallying is criminal. But we always knew those oil guys were crooks, didn't we? How can we go on putting our eggs in someone else's basket?
An aid office should be opened for every country in the world. A list should be posted on the door - all the things we propose to do for that country. They can come over and look at the list, pick the ones they can stand to have done for them, one from column A, three from column B. Let goodness flow like water from the land of plenty. The dictators can turn down the offers as insults to national sovereignty - they can deal with the anger of their subjects who will be able to see their neighbors growing while they shrink.
This is the way that must be taken. The other way, the one with the orange balls of fire, is absolutely counterproductive, absolutely useless, absolutely - ah - cowardly. An attack on Afghanistan the country will not make anyone feel better, will not overthrow the wrongheaded Taliban, is probably even the wrong target. Even a dead Osama bin Laden will bring no relief. He is just a voice.
Only a commitment to goodness and
mercy can turn the tide. We people who have STUFF must divest some
of our luxury to bring the destitute back from the brink or we will be
broken and destroyed and the meek - the ones whose houses are made of sticks
- will inherit. Claims of piety and goodness by the well dressed
and adequately fed are obvious foolish lies in the eyes of those who haven't
eaten, whose kids are dying of worms.