Tuesday, September 12, 2006
What 9/11 means.
What 9/11 means, to everyone.
It means that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, living in a free and open society means being vulnerable to the events of five years ago. It means that as soon as we step back from the precepts of and commitments to a free and open society, we damage all that went before us and begin to lose the ability and the time to repair that damage.
A free and open society is based on trust. That we can be hurt by that trust is not a reason to move away from a free and open society. Indeed, such incidents should bolster our resolve, should cause us to renew our commitments, because we are in fact the enemies of those who perpetrated these acts, not because we choose to be their enemies, but because they choose to be our enemies.
The founders of the American colonies shed their blood and flesh in order to make a life here. Later, when that life was threatened, was being taken away in small increments by those who neither paid the blood price nor felt the obligation to do so, those same colonists founded the US and again paid the price of flesh and blood to win the right to found the nation, and to make sure that the nation would never again be subject to that threat and that theft.
They were volunteers. They saw the necessity, but they were under no obligation to do anything about it. They offered of themselves, freely and because they believed in the vision of the future of a free and open society.
On September 11, 2001, over 3,000 people paid that price again. They were not volunteers. No one offered them advanced notice. They could not have anticipated it in any way. But, if the stories about flight 93 are any indication, and I'm going to boldly make the assumption that they are a strong indication, then we should know and remember that they paid that price with the same integrity and intention that our founders had.
In the end, my assumption doesn't really matter. The truth is that this is the price to be paid for a free and open society. Anyone who says otherwise, anyone who claims that the price can be avoided, is a bald-faced liar. You can quote me on that.
Our free and open society is no more. Our rights and our liberties have been curtailed. They've been changed in a manner that allows no dissent, and promises no restoration in either the short-term or the long-term. That, my fellow citizens, is the true measure of success of the suicide terrorists who brought the reality of war to our soil, and their surviving cronies are celebrating their success right now, and looking for ways to increase it.
We cannot defeat them by trying to capture them. We cannot anticipate their next moves beyond an arbitrary listing of the possibilities. We will have no success in removing them from our reality by somehow bringing to them the joys and freedom of some form of democracy. No, there is only one way to approach this, and no one is going to like to see this spelled out.
The irony, btw, is that we almost did it twice, Gulf War I and Afghanistan. That we stopped short in both cases is a testament to the need to go all the way.
Here's the deal: mess with us, and you go down. No exceptions, no mitigating protective circumstances. If you make a town or city your base of operations, you will be able to use human shields exactly once, and they will fail you because we will do whatever is necessary to kill you.
Apply this directly to Iran. Take off all restrictions and threats concerning the development of peaceable use of nuclear power, and give them this simple warning: test a nuke, anywhere under any circumstances, and we will declare war on you and destroy your infrastructure, starting with whatever progress in nuclear technology you've made. Use a nuke against others, whether civilian or military, and we will destroy every soldier you have in the field. Explode a nuke on US soil, no matter how limited the yield and scope of damage, and we will turn your major cities into fused slag. It would all go for chemical and biological weapons as well.
Anyone protesting this policy can take the following response: no one has the right to use a nuke as a first-strike weapon. That is the crux of the policy. Tell the world, right now, if you agree or disagree with that statement, and we can place you in the friend column or the enemy column, and that will be that.
That last statement is intended for the global picture, not for the reactions and opinions of individuals reading this. If you disagree with the policy I've outlined, then be prepared to defend your take on it, but don't hesitate to state it in whatever terms you choose.
First and foremost, we are living in a free and open society. By default, we will always be vulnerable.
We're in a war that's wholly unlike others in some respects. It's quite litterally a war of ideologies, only the discussion is quite deadly (talk about your flame wars!).
I also agree that terrorist can not be allowed to use their terror any more than once.
Unfortuneately, if one looks at recent world history as a whole, we've already done this. It's too bad it took the events on 9/11 to wake us up, but let us hope we haven't hit the snooze button (again!).
If this war is faught to its twisted conclusion it will inevitably lead to the destruction of humanity. We simply cannot allow this.
And yet, despite our desire to remain free and open, it's seems almost inevitable that we're going to be giving up some liberties and some privacy in exchange for a little more peace and safety. In doing so, we may become more like the Orwellian future that we've hoped to avoid.
I'm not sure what it going to take to solve this conundrum. Certainly some outside of the box thinking...
The problem for my position is that I don't really have an answer about how to respond. Honestly, we took away much of the freedom of the people who attacked us--their freedom to be who they want to be--and their response to us was to do this: to say, "Mess with us, and we'll take you down."
For me, to respond in kind doesn't solve the problem--it just accelerates it.
Terrorism doesn't work--Ireland, Basque country, etc... they all prove that. But what those places also prove is that responding to them in kind doesn't work either. It just creates a self-perpetuating cycle. The answer can't be just as easy as "we'll take you down." That hasn't worked yet--how can anyone seriously think it will this time?
The time has come to search for another way. I just wish I knew what it was...
Heh... you know who this is--because I wish you
Would Al Qaeda have wanted or expected that? I wonder.
I was shocked to the core when the 11th of September attack took place. I have a friend in New York and her safety was important to me. I worried a lot and shed many tears.
I am not suggesting that my idea is workable or sane. I just want people to think about it for a moment.
Love the blog!