Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Alas
Babylon!
"Europe, Lost.
By Jack Birnbaum Published 03/16/2004
"Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war."
-- Winston Churchill after the Munich conference, 1938.

And so the Spanish have chosen; and so they will have. The lessons of history are too old, covered with cobwebs, stored somewhere in the attic of memory, belonging to generations whose time has passed. Now, again, it seems that all one has to do to ensure a bright, safe future is to hold up a sign saying "Paz", and peace it will be. Peace in our time. The dead of March 11 not yet cold in their graves, the burned and disfigured survivors still in hospital, and the blame has been assigned. Not to the ones who build the bombs and fly the planes into buildings to give themselves meaning in some internalized historical mythology; they are the mechanism, you see, not the root cause. The cause, the criminal, is to be found in those who resist too robustly, who go beyond holding up signs and passing resolutions and try to prevent the slaughter.

On September 12, 2001 they were all Americans, for a day, anyway. But then things began to get uncomfortable. America determined to not just honor our dead and rebuild (that would have been alright), but to take action to ensure that the horrors would not be repeated. The first wave of the left, the hard core, the ones without shame or a good feeling for public relations, even then, while the dust of the Twin Towers still swirled, worried about what America would do. They marched against the "Bombing of Afghanistan" as if it were to be some indiscriminate murder of innocents from above, instead of what it was, a professional campaign to eliminate the Al-Qaeda sanctuary and liberate a terrorized people from the religious fanatics of the Taliban. But their propaganda didn't really catch on, didn't penetrate the mainstream. The attacks on New York and Washington were too fresh. NATO supported the Afghan campaign, and the United Nations didn't object. They weren't all Americans anymore, but they still saw themselves as part of the same civilization, under attack by something alien, for reasons they didn't quite understand.

But the images fade and the old instincts work their way back into consciousness. The need to consider oneself different from the victims, to create a convincing reason it can't happen to me. And the sense of justice we all carry, that so easily mutates into a conviction that a victim must have somehow deserved his fate, if not from moral failing than at least from not taking proper precautions, from having made a wrong judgment, a bad alliance. An explanation is needed, and an amulet.

A meme. A unit of cultural information, transmitted around the world, from media outlet to politician and back again, until it has permeated the collective consciousness so that it is just known to be true, a starting point for thought rather than something to be questioned.

* Bush is the problem. (A convenient stand-in for America, which is more uncomfortable for some to criticize.)

* The war in Iraq brought this on. (Not the war on terror, that we all agree on. Just that particular mass-murdering dictator removed, just that particular crooked oil-for-food program exposed.)

* (Fill in the blank) lied! (And how long did it take for that part of the meme to start circulating after the carnage in Madrid?)

* If only not for Bush and Iraq, they would leave us alone. If not for that, our children would be safe.

So they have their amulet, the Spanish. They can take their comfort in the meme they share with so many others. I wish them well, from the depth of my being, and I hope they never again have to see the body parts of their loved ones scattered around their cities like so many Israelis. And I know it isn't all of them, but just enough of them to turn an election. But they have made this clear to the world: the threat of indiscriminate terror can affect the outcome of a democratic election. This is not a small thing. This is a major defeat in the war for civilization.

They have chosen dishonor. And I fear what we will all have."
The history of WWII is very interesting and quite relevant today. (Howevermuch some might wish it were not so.) Alas we have no Churchill. I would vote for a Churchillian war leader even if he had NO domestic policy. The only one who comes anywhere near close is Bush. I fear he may not be enough. I know Kerry wouldn't be. This article from November of 2002 lays it out.
"As individuals, we float in a sea of opinion, amidst the choppy wake from spindoctors on media jetskies circling about us. Sometimes, shipwrecked as the Democrats now are after the election survivors can be found clinging to stray bits of fact or splintered pieces of once healthy worldviews. But many simply flounder and thrash around, while others cling quietly to a bit of wreckage in hopes of rescue.

Peace. How can there be so many different views of such a simple subject? Or, expressed at its most basic by a battered and beaten Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Mr. King's philosophical opus seems to be the unspoken question that most liberals are now asking about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, al-Qaida terrorists, and North Korea's self-confessed nuclear-weapons program.

Twentieth-century American citizens experienced a material prosperity unparalleled in human history. We had so much prosperity that it allowed us to ignore the world as it really is, and entertain the multitude of fantasies that each of us carries around in our heads. These were our substitute realities. We formed into political parties and a thousand special-interest groups to advance our common fantasies about the world. Together we acted as if stocks could rise forever, we could eradicate poverty, and the rest of the world would never catch up to our technology.

Today, we are confronted with a stark reality. Those whose worldview includes our destruction as part of their path to political and cultural ascendancy are, to the best of our knowledge, within a few months to a couple of years of obtaining nuclear weapons.

Some of us may take comfort from the fact that the world survived during our lifetimes with a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction. None of the nuclear powers attacked one another with these weapons of mass destruction. But the world's nuclear club was tiny, consisting mainly of the U.S., the Soviet Union, China, Britain and France. Although we disagreed often and loudly with one another, we held to fundamentally similar views of the world. Perhaps the most important of those views was that nuclear weapons would never be used as a first strike against a civilian population for military gain.

That policy served us well. The fact you and I exist is proof enough. But the impending new members of the nuclear club Middle Eastern dictators, Islamic terrorists and drug cartels have already provided ample evidence that they do not share our values. Put another way, the reality inside their heads is vastly different than the reality inside ours. Mass murder in support of political goals has been the technique of choice among Palestinian Islamic terrorists fighting against Israel for decades. With 9-11, that technique was repackaged and successfully exported to the U.S. Much of Europe cannot be far behind.

The first U.S., Canadian or European city incinerated by a terrorist nuclear device will mark either the capitulation of Western civilization to Islam, or the end of Islamic states in a retaliatory nuclear strike of massive proportions.

The West has a brief window of opportunity to forestall that future at the price of perhaps wrongly toppling a dictator who insists he has no desire for regional conquest, but has already attacked one of his neighbors without provocation. The insights gained from his fall will allow us to follow the rabbit trails from Baghdad to the world's terrorist leaders and drug-cartel kingpins.

It is possible, perhaps even likely, that such action will buy us and the rest of the world another generation or more of peace. The cost of inaction is too awful to contemplate."
I think that this is very important to keep in mind considering the recent revelations that North Korea, Libya, and Iran had very advanced weapons programs while the rest of the world remained ignorant. I think it's only a matter of time before a mushroom cloud rises somewhere. What would we do if someone detonated one and began making demands? What is the appropriate response? What if were Al Qaida? Where do we retaliate? How do we retaliate?

I don't know that the country wouldn't demand the obliteration of the middle east. THAT is one reason why we MUST win this war. So that we aren't faced with that choice. Millions of innocent people over here or millions of innocent people over there. Our generation's nuclear nightmare is 10 times scarier than our parents'.

posted by Rachel 3/17/2004
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