John Keller: Kidding Ourselves

The bombs rain down on Afghanistan, but they stop on Friday out of respect for Islam. We keep trying to convince Islamic countries that this is a war against terror, but some don’t seem to believe it. If the government policy wonks think they can expand the war on terrorism to include Syria, Iraq, or Libya without creating a jihad, they’re kidding themselves. It looks like the Taliban thinks that 300 civilian casualties matter. Sorry, fellas, you’ve got 5,700 to go before anyone in America starts counting.

Starving Afghans don’t count in that toll, since the U.S. military is dropping food to avert criticism of causing a humanitarian disaster. As noble as this sounds, it’s too little at best, and a cynical public relations ploy at worst. Either way, we’re kidding ourselves if we think a few thousand food packages dropped from airplanes is going to make a difference to the millions facing starvation on the ground.

It appears the script is playing out exactly like bin Laden wanted. He and his cronies (still assuming it’s bin Laden, and not some other US-hating terrorist organization), having anticipated our bombing response have started phase two of their terror campaign: Anthrax by mail. Why did they wait so long after 9-11? The message seems straightforward. If you escalate, we will escalate.

Now comes the news that terrorists may have a "dirty" nuclear bomb. This is really nuclear waste wrapped around a bunch of C-4, or some other conventional explosive. The effect of this weapon is not a massive mushroom cloud, but a silent rain of radioactive particles over a city, making it unsafe to live in, and expensive if not impossible to clean up. Did I mention the mass hysteria, rioting, and looting such a weapon would create. Will we escalate again? What happens if we do kill bin Laden? What happens if we capture him? Will we see New York or Los Angeles turned into an uninhabitable "hot" zone?

None of this will affect Dick Cheney, hunkered down in a (real) nuke proof bunker, or George W. Bush, with his Flying Fortress of Solitude. It will affect normal Americans. I hate to think that another massive, successful terrorist attack is about to happen, but recent events show that terrorists are here, and have planned well ahead for a military response. If it comes, I wonder if Americans, with thousands more dead and martial law imposed, will be ready to get our 6,000 troops out of Saudi Arabia and stop bombing Iraq.

It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. Our overseas adventures have come back in the form of dead Americans, and waging another war overseas is more of the same. The government in the form of the FAA, the FBI, the CIA, and the Armed Forces failed to protect us against terrorists in our midst, first from airplanes turned to missiles, and now from Anthrax. What they are doing is bombing an Islamic country instead of securing the arrest of terrorists, and giving credibility to the statements of radicals that we are more interested in killing Muslims than serving justice. Thanks to the press corps bombardiers, negotiating with the Taliban for bin Laden’s release would be seen as "surrender", and is therefore politically inconvenient. How many more Americans will be sacrificed on the Altar of Politics to the False god of Soundbite Security before we realize we were kidding ourselves.

Stop bombing Afghanistan. Take the Taliban up on their offer to extradite bin Laden (certainly to Pakistan). Stop bombing Iraq. Remove our troops from Saudi Arabia. Restore our limited government, with a militia army stationed here at home, rather than abroad. Stop denying Americans their natural right to defend themselves, and stop bombing abroad in the name of security at home. Friendship with all and entangling alliances with none is the formula for peace. If we think America can simultaneously have an overseas empire, while remaining safe and free at home, we’re kidding ourselves.

John Keller

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