Sunday, September 05, 2004

Dark

So much darkness out there.

This is old news. If you don't know or haven't heard about it, you really need to pick up a newspaper.

Last week a group of Chechen separatist (Chechens, Arabs, Africans - every flavor of Islamic fundamentalism) rebels in Beslan, Russia held an entire primary school hostage on its first day in session after the summer break.

Dozens of children were forced to stand in the windows as human shields.

Children and adults were penned in the middle of classrooms that had become literal minefields.

The hostages had no food or water for three days and resorted to drinking their own urine.

Children - some as young as four and five - who cried or whimpered with hunger were threatened with automatic rifles.

Many of the same children eventually got their little heads blown to smithereens because Putin and the Russian government were not appropriately prepared for the crisis and didn't have adequate special ops personnel, helicopters, or contingency plans. Only a handful of emergency vehicles arrived on scene once the crisis broke. Children and teachers that managed to survive were driven to the hospital in private cars. Over 300 dead, including 30 terrorists of varying nationalities. On strechers, covered in sheets, on the lawn of the school. Estimates of 700 wounded. This ended Friday. New numbers are still coming in.

I haven't mentioned it yet because it's too close to home.

The photographs of the parents circling the school, wailing, keep killing me a little more every time I see them.

I have an eight year old son who's first day of third grade is Monday, September 13. He is adorable and brilliant and sometimes tiresome but above all, innocent.

I don't give a shit how noble you think your cause is, or if you think god is personally motivating you to these extreme measures. Targeting children proves only one point - that you're a monster and that you deserve nothing but a slow, torturous death. (But do I think the state should mete out that kind of justice? Not on your life.)

Hard retaliation isn't working - Putin learned that the hard way. Invading loosely geographically affiliated nations isn't working - ask the troops and civilians being targeted daily by motley, disorganized factions of suicide bombers in Iraq. Call me cynical, but I have a hunch that shuffling all of our bureaucracy so that we can have a new "Terror Czar" and bigger, better intelligence agencies doesn't sound like much of a solution either. Aren't we being targeted NOW? Then why does it matter if the system works better decades down the road? If we want to BE here for decades, we'd better figure it out a little quicker.

I'm a big believer in finding so-called "root causes". I don't mean appeasement. Bin Laden declared publicly on several occasions before 9/11 that his issue with the U.S. was our presence in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general. Our interventionist policies in Iraq have, in my opinion, exacerbated the terrorist threat. Why are we there? "To fight our enemies and bring democracy." Why do we have enemies there? Because we're there. It's this political catch-22 clusterfuck and it seems like the candidates aren't offering any new solutions.

It's debatable whether or not the Iraqi people are better off; in some ways, absolutely. In others, they are perhaps less secure than they were under Saddam's terror regime. I don't think it's debatable whether or not WE are better off. We've never been so hated. And it ain't because of our freedom. Do you really believe anyone hates us because we're free?

We haven't found Bin Laden (though, if we did, there would be another and another...). We've stirred up the mother of all hornet's nests in Iraq - and to what end? We've alienated any other nation that might want to help us. We continue to hear the ol' "chatter" about proposed attacks to affect our election.

(And again - how do they want to affect it? For Bush? Do they like him better? I had this conversation a few months back. My view then was that surely the people would take it as a massive failure on Bush's part and vote in Kerry. My friends set me straight - "Fuck dem peacenik dems! Let's blow Al Quaeda to the stone age! USA!". And they're quite right.)

All I want right now is a leader that can keep us sane and safe.

I know it's highly unlikely that the Beslan school scenario would play out here, but I especially want a leader to keep my child safe (subway suicide bombers? Indian Point? Anthrax? Haven't we caught the anthrax guy yet, either?)

I know that we enjoy some of the most elite defenses available to the free world. I also know that our system is vast and cumbersome and has great trouble responding to a small, coordinated, flexible attack. If Afghanistan had sent a Taliban army to attack us? No problem. Nineteen guys with boarding passes? Not so much. Have you been to an airport lately? It's more of a pain in the ass, sure. Safer, I couldn't say.

We need a broader vision. We need imagination. We need to ditch the neo-cons and their "No attack can happen without state backing" (last I heard, Osama had more wealth than a lot of states) bullshit.

Even if Kerry can't fix all of these problems, he'll at least try to avoid making them worse. Go Kerry Go.

4 Comments:

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

My friends set me straight - "Fuck dem peacenik dems! Let's blow Al Quaeda to the stone age! USA!". And they're quite right.)*cries for this country and the world* WHY are people so stupid? And why do a majority of Americans trust him with national security (other than the fact that the GOP spin machine was created in the 7th layer of Hell)?

What happened in Russia was just a terrible tragedy. I don't know why Americans aren't looking at it and thinking, "maybe it's time for new leadership. Maybe it's time for us to start looking at real ways to combat terrorism, and Bush isn't the right one to lead us".

On a happier note, I read your previous entry, and I have to say that I LOVE The Professional. And finally, someone else who thinks Gary Oldman is SEX. Everyone thinks that I'm strange for having a huge crush on him.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Audacity said...

Having done a few papers on Chechnya in undergrad, I sympathize with the cause. Hell, I even believe they should be granted their own state. But the Chechens have been hijacked by the Islamic Fundamentalists.. and if they believe that holding children hostage will garner them support around the world. They are seriously mistaken.

And I blogrolled ya too.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Cappy said...

Hey you liberals, when are you going to whine in with "Why do they hate the Russians?"?

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Katie said...

Hey, Jim -

I'd reply directly if you made your profile available, but since you've hidden... Is it liberals who whine "why do they hate us?" Or is it liberals who have a pretty sophisticated view of precisely WHY they hate us (or the Russians, for that matter), for which they are called "unpatriotic america haters" by obfuscating asshats? Hmmm?

 

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