Echoes of 9/11

The attacks in Paris, and most recently the attacks in Brussels, inevitably bring back tremors of the stark terror we felt on September 11th, 2001—now almost fifteen years ago. Most people in New York were scared for months, even years—especially going into skyscrapers, being in places with large crowds and riding the subways. That subterranean river of fear still runs through the subconscious of everyone who was there that day—and what just happened in Brussels taps straight into that fear. Along with the shock and horror we feel for the people in Brussels, there’s the generally unspoken fear that it could easily happen here again. Continue reading

I read somewhere that, in the North Carolina Republican primary, a majority of voters said that of all the issues they were concerned about, terrorism was the most important.
It’s not for me to judge them; but, having been in New York City on September 11th, 2001, and having observed over the years which places have been the targets of terrorist attacks, I’m guessing North Carolina residents probably don’t have that much to worry about. But again, no one can judge another’s fears—rationality has nothing to do with it.

The attacks in Paris, and most recently the attacks in Brussels, inevitably bring back tremors of the stark terror we felt on September 11th, 2001—now almost fifteen years ago. Most people in New York were scared for months, even years—especially going into skyscrapers, being in places with large crowds and riding the subways. That subterranean river of fear still runs through the subconscious of everyone who was there that day—and what just happened in Brussels taps straight into that fear. Along with the shock and horror we feel for the people in Brussels, there’s the generally unspoken fear that it could easily happen here again.

When you’re scared—terrified—your responses are primitive, fight or flight. But with this kind of organized mass murder, where do you run and how can you fight it? As individuals we can’t do anything but live with it. However, there is always the collective response. The victims of such attacks live in countries with governments and established armed forces. If we’re attacked, over and over again—and often by the same attackers—we (the collective we) feel the primitive response, the urge to eliminate the danger.

Homicidal/suicidal Terrorist cells are almost impossible to protect against, but if we identify the source of their training and supply, then possibilities seem to present themselves. ISIS is quick to take “credit” for these recent attacks in Europe and the almost weekly attacks in various Middle Eastern countries—and ISIS has a relatively identifiable location with borders and headquarters.

…Terrorists. ISIS. We all have our ideas about who these people are and the complex reasons for (and origins of) their behavior; European and United States colonialism and imperialism, poverty, racism, fundamentalist religion, lust, power, greed; male fear and hatred of women—and the almost unfathomable state of mind of men (and women) who are willing to blow themselves up and kill dozens of others along with themselves.
It could take a couple of hundred years (and the combined awareness and benevolence of the entire planet) to heal the wounds that can cause such kinds of behavior, but ISIS is not going to wait a couple of hundred years—even if they were the types to do that in the first place (which I doubt).

So there are the possible causes of terrorism.
And then there are the political, strategic and economic consequences arising from decades of war in the area and the complex, shifting tangle of the civil war in Syria, which has caused the death or wounding of hundreds of thousands of people and driven millions to seek refuge in countries that are already strained to the breaking point.
There is the involvement of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, The United States— And running underneath it all—an ocean of oil, which, wherever it gushes out of the earth, always seems to be mixed with blood.

…Is there more that can be said about all this or are our minds already filled to overflowing with information and opinions?
I think most of us have all heard enough—and so now the question becomes: What is to be done?

ISIS seems to be a threat to EVERYONE—Europeans, Americans, other Muslims—whoever ISIS has decided they hate and need to destroy. And there seems to be no group of people who do not fit into that category.
The central, controlling members of ISIS (whoever they are) seem to me like the core group that formed the NAZI party, took over Germany, and then tried to take over the world: I think they are consumed by an insane drive to murder—not just everyone in the world but, ultimately, also, themselves. They are provoking the rest of the world’s military (Muslim countries included) to attack them; it’s a world-scale example of suicide by cop.

Alright, so that’s the problem. But what is the solution?
What can be done about this group and the terror cells they have installed all over the world?
You can’t talk to them. There will be no peace talks with governmental officials sitting around a large conference table making compromises. There will be no third party flying back and forth, mediating a settlement between them and their enemies.
So how do you deal with these people?

At this point, I have nothing but questions…

After Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, do the people of the United States really want to spend another trillion dollars that we don’t have and send hundreds of thousands of troops to fight yet another undeclared war!? (Of course we—and by we, I mean the President, the CIA and the US military are already fighting over there and are continuing to send more ground troops all the time)?
Aren’t we all sick of seeing our money, weapons and troops being dispatched to almost every country on the planet?
Does the United States Military really need to be there at all?
How is our presence there helping to keep us safe?
(Maybe we should just withdraw every American soldier, ship, plane and all our weapons and ammunition; just focus on protecting our own borders—and, while we’re at it, rebuilding our decayed towns, cities, highways, bridges, water supply systems, schools, etc.)
Or would that just be a modern version of isolationism? Is this situation similar to the one we found ourselves in just before World War Two? Can the world cope with ISIS without the help of the United States?

Speaking of recruiting terrorists… How many tens of thousands of potential terrorists have been created by the actions of the United States in Afghanistan and The Middle East over the last 15 years (and for decades before that by having our CIA overthrow democratically elected governments and by providing aid and support to the worst dictatorships)?

As far as terror cells and suicide bombers recruited, trained and supplied by ISIS (and that’s setting aside Al Queada), how can the internal security forces and police in any country deal with them? To do this (even if it stood a chance of working), wouldn’t you have declare martial law and do away with all civil and individual rights? How much freedom do we, or the citizens of any country, trade away to guarantee security from terror attacks?

How about (as Ted Cruz recently recommended) assigning the military and/or the police to patrol every Muslim neighborhood in  the United States?
What about (a la Trump) banning all Muslims from coming to this country—and while we’re at it, why not gather them all up and put them in internment camps, just like our government did with Japanese citizens during WW2.
If we do these things, then why even bother with having a constitution and a system of laws?

Cruz again: Maybe we should “carpet bomb” the whole area that ISIS occupies—forget about the tens of thousands of civilians that would be murdered?

Hillary Clinton (check her history as a Senator and as Secretary of State) seems to think that military force is always a good option. What would she do about ISIS if she were elected President?

Finally…  In dealing with ISIS, are there any alternatives to using force?

It seems to me that, ever since 9/11, whatever real democracy existed in the United States has been so eroded that we are way down the road to becoming a police state. In fact, when you read about the troubles and conflicts all over the world, democracy itself seems to be going out of style. Maybe it’s a cycle of political change based on overpopulation and diminishing essential resources. How that will resolve itself—who knows?
Right now, it looks like the better angels of our natures are ducking and running for cover… Who could have imagined—in the 21st century—men beheading other men, then sending out a video of it to the rest of the world? Who could have ever imagined Donald Trump as a very real possibility to become the President of The United States?
The brutes and the fools can really wear you out, that’s for sure. But what else can you do? You retreat a bit, rest up and then come back into the struggle. Another Iraq? Trump for President?
Can’t be. We have to keep pushing back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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