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Just flew in from DC...boy are my arms tired....(8 posts)

Just flew in from DC...boy are my arms tired....sn69
Oct 21, 2002 7:05 AM
OK, that was poor. Nonetheless, I've just returned from a week-long trip to our SOG. Aside from a crisp chill in the air (compared to Mother New Orleans) and the beauty of trees starting to shift colors, the atmosphere of the city was subtle yet bizarre.

I found it ironic how the sniper issue currently plaguing the DC Metro Area is a reflection of some of the larger issues our nation faces, particularly the low-grade societal panic that is forcing changes in behaviors, expectations, and some freedoms.

Things change; life is dynamic. Global relationships and the art of statecraft require constant adaptation. Sometimes changes occur slowly and sometimes the corresponding symptoms of change are equally if not more distressing. Today we are faced with a nationless enemy that wants to fundamentally alter our way of life in the name of religion. They use tactics and employ terror as a methodology that scares and confuses us--we expect an enemy to "take it to the schoolyard" and meet on the field of battle. In stead, we are fighting a non-government organization for which our stodgy, old construct of national strategy fails us. We are adapting, and that scares us as well for the requirements cause us to question some of the values that we hold dear.

At the same time, we are watching the world deal with the same issue, and we are shocked to see other attitudes change in concert with this new age. Europe, it seems, is casting off its long-felt sense of obligation to us, and in some regions National Socialism is starting to raise it's ugly head. Still, did we really assume that Europe would be indebted to us forever? The EU is fast becoming an economic force unto itself, and that too will drive global politics. They have their own burgeoning dynamics to deal with, particularly as thousand-year-old prejudices and grudges resurface as a peripheral symptom to a unified Europe.

Asia? It's equally dynamic. While there are some who fear a hegemonic cold war with China, I think that "mob rules" will ensure stability between us and them. In short, it's bad for bid'niz to make war with one another. North Korea's unapologetic announcement of their nuclear program, however, has thrown the Asian dynamic for a loop while the continued spread of Pan-Fundamentalist Islam (to be distinguished from Main Stream, Modern Islam) further threatens the region's stability. Of course, we couldn't really expect to keep the nuclear genie in the bottle forever....

And through it all, we don't quite know what to make of things. This is not the comfortable, predictable Cold War where we can easily stockpile arms in the name of MAD while devoting far more resources to debating pedantic issues like backwards masking/demonic rock (...Tipper?), the purple Telly Tubby--gay or strait (...Fallwell?), etc. We grew complacent in the relative constant of the Cold War. Now it's over, things are changing, and we're not quite sure what to do.

And, much the same, in DC I watched people bob, weave and zig-zag their way into the malls, I saw tarpulin covered gas stations, and I bore witness to an underlying current of fear because serial killers have never before employed sniper tactics.

Things change. Welcome back to the dynamics of a world in constant flux.
Take our paranoia. . . . .<i>Please.</i>czardonic
Oct 21, 2002 9:44 AM
  • "Today we are faced with a nationless enemy that wants to fundamentally alter our way of life in the name of religion."

    Like any fiction, there is a kernel of truth to this. The 9/11 terrorists want us to stop meddling in the affairs of their homeland. That we see our own cultural and political imperialism abroad as "our way of life" at home is sad. That we would rather go to war than confront this is even sadder.

  • "North Korea's unapologetic announcement of their nuclear program, however, has thrown the Asian dynamic for a loop while the continued spread of Pan-Fundamentalist Islam (to be distinguished from Main Stream, Modern Islam) further threatens the region's stability. "

    Actually, recent events underline a decades old status quo of instability in certain small countries, and rouge behavior from N. Korea. Hardly a gathering storm.

  • ". . .serial killers have never before employed sniper tactics."

    There have been serial snipers before:

    What has changed more than anything is vogue that fear is currently enjoying. We can't stop gorging ourselves at the trough of media hyped paranoia. Violent crime is down. We are arguably farther from the brink of world destruction through war than we have been in generations. Yes, scary things still happen. They always have, and they always will. Enjoy life.
  • Counterpoints...kindasn69
    Oct 21, 2002 10:29 AM
    Czar, I apologize. I lack your system savvy, nor do I care to muddle my way through the tutorial to figure it out. Again, I'm sorry...I'll just use bullets and ask you to refer back when necessary.

    1. True, the 9/11 terrorists who committed the acts were primarly Saudi, and there's a growing sentiment among their Wahib underground that the US military presence must leave. Of course, 12 years ago, the vast majority of the Saudis wanted the presence there. The fact is that it has been steadily declining, although far more of the presence is driven by diplomacy and foreign policy than by DOD. As for the terrorists' masters, they cannot cloak themselves in the self-righteous air of the oppressed victims of imperialist infidels. Lest we forget, Al Queda effectively tried to establish a proxy regime in Afghanistan, a country they saw "ripe for the pickin'" as a means to establish their own "pure Islamic state." That was, by definition, imperialism. Granted, America's activities abroad are of a different nature, and they--the other side--see our presence in their land as an intrustion...and partially justifiably so. Still, economic motivators aside, we seek stability and economic gain, and in spite of our imperialist outposts in their lands, we don't attempt to coherce or otherwise sway them from their creeds or cultures. I've posed this question before, and I'll pose it again. Hypothetically, if Al Queda were to win this war and America was under their potential control, would they simply scold us and allow us to live and let live, or would Sharia prevail and the Bill of Rights be abandoned in favor of their rule of law? (Admittedly, I confess that this circular argument could be played in either direction indefinitely.)

    2. You're right to assert that North Korea's official entrance into the Club of Fools (lead by us) isn't a surprise, nor does it spell massive destabilization of the region. Rather, it's a far more subtle harbinger of the future in which nuclear terrorism becomes fact rather than fiction. There is a reasonable argument that North Korea might be showing their cards to try to alter their economic status. I don't worry about them. I worry, in stead, about AQ, Hamas, Hezbollah, Shining Path, Action Diretique, or any other number of well-financed terrorist organizations eventually employing a nuclear device. Remember, with nukes, the actual impact takes second seat to the act itself. They will never field a kiloton/megaton device, but even a small one will induce mass panic. Countering my counter-point yet again, how do we defend against that? Well, mostly we can't. Intelligence and law enforcement can only go so far. Eventually it will happen. Until then, we have to allow our system to operation while we, the populace, continue to live. ...Like you said.

    3. Yup, you're right. University of Texas. We are a fickle society that forgets far too quickly. We get easily distracted off track by goofiness, like whether or not Brittany's thingies have been surgically enhanced.

    ...Which makes me think about your comment on media-hyped paranoia. (Goofy fickleness, that is; not Brittany's thingies.) I also include media-hyped violence, sex, and anything else that wets the appetite of a society that secretly and subconsciouly craves a taste of its own mortality in an age of vaguely distressing complacency. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT advocating control of the media. Rather, I think I'm stating that Don Henley was prophetic with "Dirty Laundry." The media feeds off of and profits from the wants of the populace. Today we have reaity TV to distract us from the reality of living; and, we have extreme sports to grant us a brief, tiny taste of our own mortality in an age where living (in the US at least) is very easy.

    I like what you said about scary things. Living, it seems, remains the best solution/remedy/cure/prevention.
    When I want to get that fear-induced adrenaline rush. . .czardonic
    Oct 21, 2002 12:08 PM
    . . .I think about all the nuclear warheads that already exist under rapidly decaying security in the former Soviet republics. If a terrorist nuclear strike does occur, It will probably be a device spirited out of that part of the world, as opposed to one cobbled together in Iraq or N. Korea.

    But after an entire life with the threat of nuclear winter hanging over my head, I just can't bring myself to worry much about such things.

    Question: Do you really think that Al Queda is trying to take over America and turn it into and Islamic Regime?
    No, but if it were within their power?sn69
    Oct 21, 2002 12:32 PM
    Yes. You see, I've encountered this type of fanaticism up close. It's not rational, nor can it be argued with. The type of mind that conceives of this sort of behavior is sociopathic and dangerous. In my first case/witness, it was a Klan rally while in college. Disgusting, horrifying. That type of irrational hatred usually can't reasoned with. Likewise, during my trips to the Middle East, I've seen this sort of stuff as well. I think that the low-level followers of AQ are the typical "3P-ers"--the Poor, the Powerless, the Pissed-off--who succomb to certain cults of personality that prey on their gullability in order to gain power and exercise control. What Hitler did with a down-trodden Germany was much the same.

    I think that much like other terror groups, AQ's leadership has a set of goals that are loosely founded in what they consider to be justifiable claims of wrong-doing, the continued military presence in Saudi and the continued support of the government of Israel in particular. At the root of the issue, however, is a perverse misinterpretation of religion impregnated with hatred, prejudice, self-loathing, and cultural xenophobia. Perhaps we should send them Oprah and Doctor Phil...wouldn't that be just rewards?!

    In the meantime, they want to hurt us in anyway possible. They want to sway more people to their cause, no matter what it takes. And they want to destroy our interests, infrastructure and inflict terror on our populace. By "our," I mean anyone who is not them...American, Australian, Christian, Jew, Hindu, etc. I often wonder what they and their type would do if, somehow, Israel and Palestine could achieve a lasting, equitable peace. That particular cycle of violence is the one that I find most heart-breaking, particularly since each new generation of Israeli and Palestinian children have the chance to change. Like the Social Distortion song says "children are taught to hate...."

    Anyhow, those warheads? That is the most likely source of the material from which a future nuclear terror weapon will be produced. Yup...not good.

    In the meantime, when I want a taste of my mortality, I answer truthfully when my wife asks my opinion about her clothing choices.

    ...And then I duck.

    Take our paranoia. . . . .<i>Please.</i>Captain Morgan
    Oct 21, 2002 10:35 AM
    i The 9/11 terrorists want us to stop meddling in the affairs of their homeland. That we see our own cultural and political imperialism abroad as "our way of life" at home is sad. That we would rather go to war than confront this is even sadder.

    The terrorists are just using our "meddling in their affairs" as an excuse. As I have stated before, their primary goal is to rule the Middle East (i.e. Islam) under one regime. In order to accomplish this, they must remove dozens of governments over there. Additionally, there is significant anti-Semitism and anti-Christian views that have existed long before our "meddling."

    In Saudi Arabia, did you know that you cannot be buried there unless you are Muslim? Heaven forbid a foreigner dies over there, because the government takes control of the body and makes sure it is "exported", so that their "holy" ground is not defiled. Also, I find it interesting that a significant percentage of people over there think that the World Trade Center bombing was performed by Israel in order to "pin" it on the Middle East.

    I am not saying our foreign policy is perfect, or even effective for that matter. However, their biggotry against us "infidels" is difficult to reason with. So please do not cast blame on our "meddling." It is a lame excuse in my book.
    There is a history of meddling.czardonic
    Oct 21, 2002 12:00 PM
    First, I don't think the "meddling in our affairs" and the One Islamic Regime rationales are mutually exclusive. In order to create their ideal society, they need our troops off of their soil, and our politicians hands away from the strings that animate their leaders (in some cases), or at the very least they need us to stop sending guns to the secular despots that hold them at bay. So while you are right that there is a small minority of zealots who are out to establish a pan-Islamic theocracy in the Middle East, that leaves their hatred of us to be explained. I don't think that even their most deluded ambitions include an invasion of the United States, so why would they attack us if not to disuade us from attacking them?

    The Middle East, as we see it today is largely the result of European colonialism and US/USSR rivalry, not the wishes of the people that live there. Is it any wonder that they would choose Islam, a common thread, over the tattered cloth that currently binds them?

    For every anti-Christian and anti-Jewish (Arabs are also Semitic) Muslim, I suspect one could find a Christian or Jew who beleives that Islam is a violent and barbaric religion, and that Muslims are incapable of ruling themselves peacefully. Isn't this the rationale by which Christians have for centuries sought to rule the Middle East and subjugate Muslims? Of course their suspicion of us precedes our recent meddling. The fist Crusade was nealy 1000 years ago! Their mistrust of us, while misinformed, is not entirely baseless.

    I am highly suspicious of the notion that "Islamofascists" are bent on controling the globe. Rather, I think their hatred of us is a reaction to our long standing attempts to control their corner of it.

    Anyway, American Christian Reconstructionists are much more of a threat to our way of life than an Islamic empire on the other side of the globe. You don't have to go to Saudi Arabia to find religious nuts who want to rule this country by God's law, subjugate women, execute homosexuals and jail non-beleivers.
    US is a scapegoat.Sintesi
    Oct 21, 2002 12:35 PM
    People in that region hate the US because they can't effectively criticize the totatlitarian regimes they already live under. Most are so uneducated they couldn't tell you what the US has done to them in the first place. It's pathetic. The US is blown up into this great Satan so they have somethng relatively harmless (to their own governments) to spill their frustrations out on. One should note that most of the Islamic world is leaning anti-West; they're not exclusively anti-American. We're just the biggest kids on the block. Al Quaeda and their ilk will happily blow up Germans, French and Aussies as wellas Americans. This we've already seen.