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Various Thoughts on the Current Situation. Posted on 09/20/2001.

I've felt impotent writing in the face of the tragedy of last week and the mobilization of our armed forces. But I'm figuring, hey, it's my website, I keep having thoughts and ideas, might as well get them out there. If nothing only so maybe I can start thinking of some other things.

Why, when thousands have died, and hundreds of thousands are in direct mourning, when the streets of lower Manhattan are littered with debris and dead bodies, when I'm feeling impotent with rage at this attack, when my friends are unable to get to their homes and are stranded in my house, when my eyes well up with tears upon thinking of the firefighters and police officers, or reading the dispatches from the latest New Yorker, why am I told that my patriotic concern should be "the economy"? How fucked up are we as a nation to equate being good little capitalist proles (yes, I know the irony of that statement) with buying crap and investing in stocks?

I have to assume that the military knows what it's doing. I know this sounds stupid to fellow skeptics, but I can't imagine that the military believes it can handle this situation through conventional methods. Right? They're not that dumb, right? They also understand that in order to be seen as successful, they'll have to get to the root of this problem (whatever it is... I'm not convinced it's simply bin Laden), or they'll have lots of egg on their face if they claim "Victory" while somebody blows up the Bay Bridge at rush hour.

But I'm nervous because the essential structure and policies of the military (at least as how I understand them) are utterly ill-suited to the nature of This Situation. There's no nation to attack here. There's no unified presence. By pretty much every account, the terrorist organizations work in a number of distributed cells. You've got to take out the nodes. I found that this Washington Post article titled "Disconnect the Dots," helped me understand, a little, what we're dealing with. The military folks know these things, right? They don't assume, with some foolish bluster or ignorance, that they can simply mow over these people, right?

Today, it was the accounts of falling bodies. I'm sitting at the Atlas Cafe, reading the latest New Yorker, and people are talking about falling bodies. Bodies with the skin burned off of them, covered in a white ash. Police officers killed under the weight of a body falling on them. That's when I started to choke up and get teary-eyed. And pretty much give up the thought of getting anything "done" the rest of the day.

"Infinite Justice" might be the stupidest name for a military operation ever. Not only is it nonsensical (what does "infinite" refer to?), it's an awkward mouthful, difficult to say with any emphasis. We're supposed to rally around something called "infinite justice"?

Which reminds me of the utter uselessness of our commander-in-chief. I know I'm now a worthless dissenter for saying so, but President Bush has been a nightmare throughout this whole incident. The man is a buffoon, capable only of spouting superficial cliches about freedom and democracy and infidels and cowardice. Mayor Giuliani, on the other hand, has been a surprisingly shining light of hope, assurance, and affirmation--and, typically I can't stand the guy. But he's stepped up to the situation and proven himself capable and dedicated to the city he loves. What does Bush love?

And war. War war war. Fighting of any kind. Makes me uneasy. I'm something of a pacifist. Yet I know we've got to retaliate... You don't let an incident this grave go by unanswered. But I fear the answer will only escalate the problem. I so wish we could just turn the other cheek. That we had some capacity for simply not showing any response, because that's what bullies want more than anything else... a response. You don't give them that, they leave you alone. Though this isn't a 'bullies' situation, obviously. So much graver. We've got to do *something*.

But what?

3 comments so far. Add a comment.

Previous entry: "Which would you choose?"
Next entry: "Yes, Virginia, This Is A Crusade!"


Currently driving me crazy is all the etailer spam, and its poseur patriotism: it started with an extremely crass "buy a flag" thing, and since then every goddam place i've ever bought something from is expressing their sympathy by reminding me that i can buy things from them, too. even the airlines: "we come together in this time of national healing to remind you of our low prices." i can't fucking deal anymore.
Posted by Lane @ 09/20/2001 06:12 PM PST [link to this comment]

RE>We've got to do *something*. But what?

William Safire questions why we aren't waging a psychological war, using a kind of 'Radio Free Afghanistan'. He suggests as missle targets the radio towers of the state-owned Radio Shariat, who spew out a hateful version of Islam along with anti-US messages.
Posted by victor @ 09/20/2001 06:21 PM PST [link to this comment]

President Bush has been a nightmare throughout this whole incident. The man is a buffoon, capable only of spouting superficial cliches about freedom and democracy and infidels and cowardice.

Amen brother. I feel like we're trying to use muskets to wipe out a virus, when what I really want to do is lie in bed and drink tea. My b'friend showed up at work yesterday to find a flag on his desk, in case maybe he had left his at home? A pal of mine at Reason Mag [yes, yes, libertarian, but not all wackjobs] has done a quickie ananlysis as to what some of our real options are, or might be.
Posted by jessamyn @ 09/21/2001 01:33 PM PST [link to this comment]

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