I started this post well over a month ago – right after the tragic events at Beslan where terrorists attacked children. Nearly two months later, I think I’m finally far enough down the path in my thought process to bring to conclusion the jumble of thoughts I had back at that time.
While I can handle dealing with those that do not share my worldview (after all, I do not have all of the right answers) – I have a hard time dealing with people who are either 9/11 apologists – and those that simply fail to understand that we’re at war.
We’ve been at war at least since September 11th – and likely longer than that. And I do not see it getting any easier for us.
Regardless of the excuses that the apologists might come up with, on September 11th we were viciously and brutally attacked. While some of our military was attacked (and killed) at the Pentagon, the bulk of the 9/11 attacks went after civilians – simple folks like me working on a morning in their offices in New York. This is notwithstanding earlier attacks on two of our embassies in Africa and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen – but 9/11 is when we woke up and took notice.
9/11 is probably the first time that we truly realized what we were up against – and some of our fellow citizens – of this country and others, simply don’t get it.
We’re in a life or death struggle for the very core of our existence. And its not going to get any easier – in fact, it’s likely going to get harder for us.
A few years ago at a ASIS chapter conference, I sat through a brutal presentation by an FBI Special Agent who had handled the evidence collection at the Pentagon after 9/11 – as well as the USS Cole Bombing. He spared little. I saw some scenes that I’ll remember until my last days. He had other scenes from the embassy bombings – they were worse.
This is what we’re up against folks – people that would kill us just to watch us die. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a soldier, sailor, or airman or not – they would kill me just as likely as they would a national guardsman in Iraq. And its time for all of us to wake up to that reality.
There are obviously some differing worldviews out there – and I respect that. It’s in the great marketplace of ideas that we find out if our ideals can stand up to the intellectual onslaught of others.
There are clearly some differing views when it comes to terrorism. Some feel that we need to reach out to our enemy and try to “understand” their worldview. Fuck that. I know their worldview – it was crashing a plane into the World Trade Center. I’m not interested in understanding their worldview.
There are others that believe that this is all our fault. Our foreign policy, our support for Israel, our capitalistic ways, the presence of so much Christianity in our public life. I call these the “apologists” – and there’s plenty of them out there – certainly there are alot here in Massachusetts, but that’s another matter.
We didn’t ask for this war. The men and women who died in Shanksville, DC, and New York didn’t ask for this. The hundreds of police and firemen who died on 9/11 didn’t ask for this. None of us did. But it’s here now. And we have to deal with it.
Lex understands – last month during the aftermath of Beslan, he wrote:
I am not really a Russian. Neither am I an Israeli. When 9/11 happened, Le Monde declared that now, “we are all Americans.” But it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. It’s facile, trite, and meaningless to attempt to throw the mantle of victimhood across our shoulders, sharing in the tragedy from a safe distance and thereby diminishing, diluting – say it! Cheating the victims of their misery by cheapening it with mere solipsistic rhetoric.
We are not Russians. We are not Israelis. We are not.
But they are of what we are of.
We are the civilized world, all of us. Russians, and Israelis and Spaniards and Kenyans. And we are locked in a death match with Nemesis.
Fight or die. Wake up to it. No more talk about Vietnam. That was then, this is now.
This is real.
James Lileks, as always, gets it. He wrote about Beslan in early September:
Cicadas, airplanes, wind in the trees. A peaceful weekend. At least here. There’s a bloody child on the front page of the newspaper. The Strib subhead calls them “Islamic guerrillas” and “fighters” and “militants,” because you know one man’s terrorist is another man’s disciple of God who practices his sharpshooting so he can nail children in the back at 50 paces. This teaser to an inside story made my jaw bruise my sternum:
“This week’s bloodbath in Russia shattered the notion that innocents are taboo terror victims.”
This is why I despair sometimes. Now we learn that innocents are no longer taboo terror victims. Which means that these people weren’t considered innocent.
That’s what we’re faced with out there as we approach this fight – changing paradigms.
I thought back when our two embassies were blown up in Africa that we’d really that innocents were in the crosshairs. Oh wait – they worked for the State Department, so they were complicit in our foreign policy errors. How silly of me.
I thought back when the USS Cole was blown up in Yemen.. oh wait, they were in the military, so they were complicit in our mass killings of civilians, cluster bombs, and all that.
I thought back when thousands were killed in New York, DC, and Shanksville, PA that we’d learn that innocents are no longer… oh wait, they were either in the military, or contributors to our evil capitalistic ways..
It’s real – it’s here. It’s time to come to grips with that.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of our enemy, as outlined in The LA Times (via Yahoo):
Guerrillas armed with automatic rifles and explosive belts who are holding hundreds of hostages at the small provincial school in southern Russia allowed 26 women and children to leave. About a dozen mothers, like Dzandarova, were allowed to take only one child, forced to leave another behind.
“I didn’t want to make this choice,” a stunned-looking Dzandarova, 27, said in the reception room of her father-in-law’s house a few miles from the school. “People say they are happy that my son and I are saved. But how can I be happy if my daughter’s still inside there?”
Her daughter was killed, by the way, in the final battles at Beslan.
Chapomatic gets it – and outlines his own approach to coming to grips with the war – and dealing with apologists:
We’re at the very beginning of a fight to the death. It’s already been said that the only way for us to lose is for us to kill ourselves, by refusing to understand the nature of this war, its consequences, or even the fact that it exists.
I will be much less civil to the next ignorant F911 believer I see. Much less.
And so will I.
At times, I don’t feel like debating the 9/11 issues with people on the “other side”. Most of them simply can’t see past the ignorance of their own ideas. But I know that I must. I have to be willing to carry the battle – it’s my own contribution to the Global War on Terror, I guess.
To each according to his/her own strengths, we have to be willing to carry the battle. Right now it’s just support – tomorrow it could be your hometown, your workplace, or an incident on your airplane as you travel to your vacation.
This is truly courage in the face or barbarism, from people who are much closer to the cancer than we ourselves. We must encourage them. We must match them in the strength of their convictions. We must not be dissuaded.
Let us hope that through the latest act of terror, that the patient has awoken. Let us hope that the tide has finally turned. Let us hope that it is not too late.
Let us keep hope alive.
And in the meantime, because we must, let us keep our powder dry.
Right on, brother!
And then there’s the protestors. I saw some firsthand in Boston recently while headed off for dinner. Two middle aged women standing near the Boston Public Library holding up a sign reading “Israel is a Terrorist State”.
I stopped so fast I about knocked myself over. I wanted to debate the two but I was headed to dinner and was already late.
This is what we’re up against – people who believe that Israel, the only Middle Eastern democracy, is a terrorist state. I’d hate to ask how they view our own country.
A final thought: Did any of those protesters who came to Manhattan to denounce our liberation of 50 million Muslims stay an extra day to protest the massacre in Russia? Of course not.
The protesters no more care for dead Russian children than they care for dead Kurds or for the hundreds of thousands of Arabs that Saddam Hussein executed. Or for the ongoing Arab-Muslim slaughter of blacks in Sudan. Nothing’s a crime to those protesters unless the deed was committed by America.
The butchery in Russia was a crime against humanity. In every respect. Was any war ever more necessary or just than the War on Terror?
Lex also had further thoughts last month about the wide distortion field between the apologists and others:
But when folks on the left accuse us of being either stupid or malignantly evil, calling the RNC a “hate fest,” while chortling happily at F9/11 distortions, and no voice of reason or rejection checks them, I have to wonder if they are worthy of our courtesy.
Maybe John Edwards is right. Maybe there really is “two Americas.” The part that I’m in can tell the difference between Soldiers and terrorists.
Personally, John Edward’s discussion about “Two Americas” drives me batty. I want one America. We live in one America. But that’s a different post.
At the debate last week, I nearly blew my top from the couch when John Kerry talked about having a summit of Muslim countries and some of his other descriptions of the Global War on Terorism – some of it was the same apologist crap I’ve heard from others. I’m not interested in a dialogue – I’m interested in how we defend ourselves (and our allies) from terrorist attacks – and how we eradicate some of these terrorist groups out there.
Perhaps Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, said it best last month:
These are not “freedom fighters,” Putin said. “Would you talk with Osama Bin Laden?” he asked. Putin said the Chechen separatists are trying to ignite ethnic tensions in the former Soviet Union and it could have severe repercussions. (Full story)
“Why don’t you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?” the Russian president was quoted as saying by Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.
“You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child-killers?” said Putin, who spoke to a group of foreign journalists and academics late on Monday.
I’m not interested in a dialogue.
We’re at war, folks. The USS Cole, Kenya, Tanzania, The Pentagon, the World Trade Center, Iraq, Shanksville. It’s likely just the beginning.
It’s time to wake up to that fact.
I’ll leave it to James Lileks to wrap this up – he says it far better than I:
I’ve no doubt that if Seattle or Boston or Manhattan goes up in a bright white flash there will be those who blame it all on Bush. We squandered the world’s good will. We threw away the opportunity to atone, and lashed out. Really? You want to see lashing out? Imagine Kabul and Mecca and Baghdad and Tehran on 9/14 crowned with mushroom clouds: that’s lashing out. Imagine the President in the National Cathedral castigating Islam instead of sitting next to an Imam who’s giving a homily. Mosques burned, oil fields occupied, smart bombs slamming into Syrian palaces. We could have gone full Roman on anyone we wanted, but we didn’t. And we won’t.
Which is why this war will be long.
The world will not end. It will roll around in its orbit until Sol expires of famine or indigestion. In the end we’re all ash anyway – but even as ash, we matter. The picture at the top of this page is a sliver taken from a 9/11 camera feed. It’s the cloud that rolled through lower Manhatttan when the towers fell. Paper, steel, furniture, plastic, people. The man who took the picture inhaled the dust of the dead. Somewhere lodged in the lung of a New Yorker is an atom that once belonged to a man who went to work two years ago and never came back. His widow dreads today, because people will be coming and calling, and she’ll have to insist that she’s okay. It’s hard but last year was harder. The kids will be sad and distant, but they take their cues from her, and they sense that it’s hard – but that last year was harder. But what really kills her, really really kills her, is knowing that the youngest one doesn’t remember daddy at all anymore. And she’s the one who has his eyes.
Two years in; the rest of our lives to go.