The appetite for destruction in this country is disturbing. One single act by a group of terrorists occurs and everyone is willing—even begging—to see their civil rights suppressed, to allow the Government to become terroristic and to ignore all logical thought. Dramatic displays of hatred and patriotism/nationalism/fascism are more comfortable than sorting out the known from the unknown.


Americans have wanted to kill somebody—anybody—since Tuesday. Someone is responsible and that someone has to pay with their life is the general concept. Other mantras floating around are “you are either with us or against us”, “wanted: dead or alive” and “it will be a long and dirty war.” Regardless of the harsh rhetoric, all parties insist that they want “Justice.”


Why?


The Government immediately blamed Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. This man is wanted for attacks on Marine barracks, Navy ships, State Department embassies, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and now the attacks in New York and Washington D.C.


Mr. Bin Laden is wanted for so many US incidents that he seems almost fictional in a way, much like rogue terrorist Emanuel Goldstein from Orwell’s 1984. Terrorist Arab based on a terrorist Jew. An amusing thought but given the wreckage in New York, there is strong evidence that Mr. Osama bin Laden is an actual terrorist financier. Did he, however, plan and finance this particular attack?


More precisely, when was the last time that Osama bin Laden lied to us?


It is an important question to ask in a society with due process and concepts such as innocence and justice. Mr. Bin Laden’s pattern fits the September 11th quite well. He announced several weeks ago that he would strike terror at America. He has the money to train followers for such a sophisticated mission:19 men, 4 planes and two targets with each category having possibly greater numbers. The attack is almost identical to the attack on the US embassies in Africa.


There’s just one problem with this particular attack. Osama bin Laden denies doing it. The significance of his denial is worth noting. He has claimed credit to every other major US attack except Oklahoma which, obviously, he didn’t do. He lives in a huge network of caves in Afghanistan that makes Vietnam look silly. No government has been able to catch him for over 8 years. Nobody is likely to catch him tomorrow. Osama bin Laden has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by admitting he was responsible for the attacks in New York and DC. From his perspective, he’s already a hero in the Middle East and his popularity hasn’t peaked. He’s not negotiating peace with anybody and, unlike Arafat, gains nothing through denial or lowering his weapons. His whole life is dedicated to the death and destruction of the United States. He doesn’t care about anyone’s existence, including Afghanistan, so it begs the question:


If he did it, would he deny it? The answer must be a resounding no.


That is not to say that the US shouldn’t go after him and forced him to justice. Osama bin Laden is responsible, by admission, for other horrendous, gruesome acts. In the case of New York and Washington, however, I suspect that the Administration already knows that he might be telling the truth. In virtually every press conference of the last two days, officials have been quick to point out that the apprehension (or assassination) of bin Laden is “only one step.” In a world filled with animosity and hatred towards the US and capitalism, the Bush Administration may have already come to terms with the possibility that someone besides Osama bin Laden is responsible for the attack. Even worse, they just don’t know.


The international hatred of the United States is something that we have a responsibility to explore. For some reason, human beings—particularly from the Middle East and South Asia—have significant grievances against the United States of America. If you ask a politician, especially a senile politician like former Secretary of State George Schultz, they will say that the overwhelming majority of the world loves America and wants to live here and be just like us. If you ask a soldier, they will tell you otherwise: watch your back, don’t travel alone, don’t travel without a weapon. The hair is a clear giveaway of being a US soldier and, therefore, a military target.


So the question remains: what is the source of the hatred?


First is the fact that most countries in the Middle East are not democracies. Oil producing states are outright oligarchies ruled by a few families or clans. By definition, the people living under these governments have not benefited in any way from the wealth promised by oil. The consumption of oil is an unbelievably profitable business. Oil breaks down into hundreds of products, not just gasoline. However, it is gasoline that powers every transportation network in the world and the “crack addict” level of dependency that Europe and Asia have with the Middle East requires that the flow of oil is not restrained by market forces or political forces. Looking at straight numbers, the US needs only Venezuela and, soon, Mexico to meet their oil needs. Unfortunately, neither Europe nor Asia have the military power or organization to keep Middle Eastern oil flowing without starting another world war.


That leaves the United States. Economically and militarily, the US eclipses Europe and Asia combined. This is a byproduct of emerging from WWII virtually unscathed while Europe and Asia suffered near complete devastation. It is reality today. Our military occupies the Middle East whether or not this occupation is official. Military occupation combined with friendly relationships to anti-democratic royal families doesn’t help win the hearts and minds of the locals. The average Arab does not benefit from oil. Any Arab that does benefit gets shipped to the US or Western Europe for the top drawer education that makes people like King Hussein of Jordan so likable to Westerners. The average Arab gets locked out of the system.


Unfortunately for every victim of terrorism, nature abhors a vacuum. The average Arab finds identity and a future in Islamic theology. Fundamentalist groups, much like Christian fundamentalist groups, suppress individual identity to a higher power represented by the group leader. Mullah or preacher makes no difference. The only real difference is that US fundamentalist groups have significantly greater wealth and much more to lose through direct action. The 20 year old Palestinian with no job, no family and no future will jump at the chance to feel the love of Allah through death, no matter how tall the order is. That’s just the beginning of Middle East depression.


The cause of the visually spectacular and symbolically undeniable attacks on New York and Washington are, sadly, no surprise at all. The surprise is that the US Government is fully aware of global hatred towards then yet continued to display astounding negligence by letting airports move as quickly as possible. Efficiency was a demand of Wall Street. Efficiency and security are two sides of the same coin that will never, ever meet. Pay security 10% above minimum wage and you will get a corresponding level of competency. Lay off experienced airline workers and lose collective corporate knowledge gained only through experience. Make investors happy today with cheap labor and you’ll pay out the ass tomorrow.


This whole debacle was a display of arrogance and disregard for human life, courtesy of the United States Government. If our leaders had a little less arrogance and a higher regard for human life, the procedures would be in place to prevent the destruction in New York and Washington. Nobody would have died.


Uncle Sham thought he could have it both ways: guard the world’s oil supply by working with anti-democratic states and living the high life at home. Thanks to Washington and Wall Street, our constitutional guarantee to domestic tranquility has been compromised. The rooster has come home to roost.


In the short term, what do we do about this?


The first answer is to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. How to go about that is tricky. Terrorism has no State. We need to find a State to hold accountable for terrorism. When we wage war against a State, lots of innocent people will die. In the case of Afghanistan, a place already under rubble will be under the same rubble even if bombs drop. The other option is to assassinate Osama bin Laden Needless to say, scumbag politicians like Bob Barr of Georgia introduced the assassination option. Since 1976, assassination have been barred by an executive order from President Ford. The current mantra is that assassination save lives. It’s a pathetic attempt to convert the intelligentsia of the US to accept extraconstitutional and extralegal action from the President.


There’s a reason that Ford signed the executive order. When a government can simply put someone on an assassination docket, that government ceases to be a government of laws and becomes a government of men. Governments of men are tyrannical governments. Governments of men that order assassinations become terror organizations. Governments that order assassination (i.e. Israel) place themselves as a bigger target for terrorism. Governments that order assassination cannot effectively deal with other governments who will either fear or fight with no real options in between. Assassination is an uninhibited bad idea. The assassination ban must stand.


What we can do and what I expect we will do is to tighten security at airports to European levels, reform immigration law, expand wire tapping and allow the CIA to hire the “unsavory” informants that they so desperately want to hire. If an informant happens to assassinate somebody… whatever… we told him we don’t support that kind of stuff.


Civil liberties and moral superiority could continue in this country with only a few changes to our government behavior and no unnecessary warfare. We should simply apprehend bin Laden, attack his organization, improve our security at National entrance points and let him be an example for anyone else. A general war on terrorism is a huge mistake and, like it’s bastard cousin called the war on drugs, it will lead only to counterproduction and misery.

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