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September 11, 2001 -- Is this evolution?

Beat! beat! drums--blow! bugles, blow!
Make no parley--stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid--mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums--so loud you bugles blow.
Walt Whitman- "Beat! Beat! Drums!"

We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
George Bush- Address to the Nation 9/11/01

I couldn't sleep last night. I'm sure that's something I share with a large percentage of this country's population. But I wonder if the culprit stealing away my sleep is the same one faced by so many others... I didn't cry through the night in sorrow for the loss of life. I did not lie awake in fear that I, or my loved ones, may be next. These are not things that I actually worry about. Life is cheap, when it comes right down to it. Death holds no terror for me.

No, it was disappointment in the general response to this thing that kept me tossing and turning. It was this instant call to arms. 'This is an act of war," said Diane Feinstein. That's what got Walt Whitman's poem thumping rhythmically through my head. Haven't we learned any damned thing from history? Must we repeat these cycles over and over... cycles doomed to failure but repeated anyway? From the Crusades to the Gulf War... can no one see what is to be learned?

I'm thinking now of Saddam Hussein, gloating over in Baghdad, and knowing that he is dead right... this the fruit of our country's Middle East policies. The West (US and Britain) sowed these seeds with the creation of Israel. We tended this garden by "pruning" unfriendly government leaders, and "cross-pollinating" with puppets. We've tried to trim away the thorns, and emerged with hands bloodied and torn... the thorns remain.

This event should take no one by surprise. It's been coming for a long time. I'd even suggest it was accelerated over the past several months... I see a Republican President, with a war-hawk Vice President. I see a cabinet populated by hawks over the following months. I see the new administration strip away the efforts put in place by previous administrations to ease Mid-east tensions. I see Israel given nearly free-rein in their policies against Palestine. And I see the country once again taking up that old Reagan stance of, "we're the baddest cowboys on the planet, and if you mess with us, we'll kick your ass!"

I also see an economy in the slumps, while the near-somnolent military industrial complex wakes and whines for nourishment in the form of an "evil empire" against which it might flex it's martial muscle. I see an administration floundering ineptly at efforts to salvage the economy.

The stage is set. Think WWI, WWII, Vietnam...Gulf War.

Did our government somehow provoke this attack? I hesitate to say it did, directly. And there's a large part of me, maybe the end of innocence, that says that even if there was intentional provocation, no one could have anticipated a response on the level that we saw yesterday. But I do not believe it took anyone by surprise.

Jesu Cristo! Have I become a conspiracist?

This thing was no Pearl Harbor, despite the constant media hype comparing the two... and despite other similarities as well. There is no "Emperor Tojo" to go to war with this time. Even if it is proven that this is an act of the Jihad, with whom would we do battle? Afghanistan? Iraq? Palestine? To what end...decimation of the entire Muslim world?

The Muslim nation is diverse and scattered around the globe. In Fremont, CA, the city next door to me, there is the largest Afghani population in the Bay Area (not all of whom are Muslim). There are muslims in the South Pacific, Indochina, and in the Ukraine. And a large percentage of that population harbors no overt ill will toward America. Even if we could identify all of the Muslims who do hate America and are part of the Jihad, there is no way to target them all.

So our sabres are rattling, but there are no necks to cleave. We may as well lead a calvary charge against the wind. But it seems likely that "we" will find someone to declare an enemy, and we will have some kind of war. And that saddens me, mainly because so doing simply perpetuates the status quo.

War may be averted if some individual group can be identified and proven guilty. Some threats and posturing may take place, before the perpetrators are handed over, but it is doubtful that any country would be willing to face war with America. Even Afghanistan will likely submit some prisoners for our appeasement. In that case, the nation will find itself essentially robbed of vengeance.

Even arresting and executing a handful of fundamentalists will not sate the general hunger for blood. The execution of Timothy McVeigh merely provided an anti-climax to the masses. The arrest and life imprisonment of the "Blind Sheik" and his cronies did not appease anyone following the first WTC attack. Nothing will be changed. The cycle will continue. For every Bin Laden (assuming it even was Bin Laden), a thousand more stand ready to fill his shoes.

We, as a society of humans, seem to be stuck in this cycle. And it strikes me that the majority of humans perpetuate the cycle willingly... they are frightened of stepping away from what they have always known. My wife mentioned today that she's afraid that this event will change American culture. I told her that I'm even more afraid that it won't. The big thing here...the point that bugs me the most and robbed me of sleep last night is this... I can point out one humdinger of a problem. But as my old journalism teacher once told me, that's something any idiot can do. The genius is in finding a solution to the problem. And nowhere in human history can I see anything that suggests a solution.

How do we step out of this cycle of pointless violence? How do we evolve? I really need to know.

"No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs."
Robert Frost- "Out, Out"

WPL 09/12/01