For travelers like us terrorism is nothing new. And it’s well past the time that we should lead our fellow Americans into a fuller understanding of what it means and how to minimize it.
If you can’t stand reading through the rest of my poorly constructed nonsense, just jump to the bottom of this for MY SOLUTION.
The penultimate word in the first paragraph is the key: Minimize. Terrorism will never, ever go away. It never has. Pagan potentates enslaved tasters to eat their food, first. Famine and pestilence were certain outcomes for any misbehaving early Christian. Spies stole children from critics of the gulag. Salman Rushdie, and many of his family and friends, have remained in hiding since the 1989 fatwa ordering his murder.
And leaping into the present, Ugandan citizens are so terrified of the proposed laws against homosexuality, that as many gays may be fleeing the country today as Asians who were ordered exiled by Idi Amin in the 1980s!
By the way, know a Mexican in Phoenix?
1. TERRORISM IS NOT NEW
The first and most important point. And it should not be as powerful news as it is, today that there’s terrorism.
Every time the nightly news headlines a terrorism warning, it’s presented as something remarkably unexpected. Every single night the news is filled with mayhem, war and killing, but a terrorism “threat” elicits greater shock.
Because the mayhem, war and killing was not about you. And because the threat is simply that, something that hasn’t yet occurred and so isn’t yet fully defined, so it might involve you. Suddenly, you’re in the news.
And when it doesn’t happen, or does and doesn’t happen to you, then you recycle your psyche to be just as shocked at the next news broadcast of potential terror featuring you. Americans are all hams and gluttons for punishment.
I hate to tell you, but terrorism is just as ordinary an occurrence as hurricanes, lightning strikes and your regular ole every-year airplane crash over Rochester. It’s a part and parcel of our lives.
2. TERRORISM IS NOT MORE POWERFUL TODAY
Don’t give me that baldersash that yes, there’s always been terrorism, but not with the power of airplanes or nuclear weapons.
How many died in the halocaust? How many ships were sunk by kamikazes? How many specific terrorism deaths in the Balkans, or during the many years of conflict in Northern Ireland? How many are still being raped and decapitated in Kivu, The Congo, or Somalia? How many airplanes or nukes would it take to reach this sum?
That is not to say that the methods of terrorism haven’t changed. As the world is more interconnected, all the good and evil within it move further and more quickly. Terrorism in our generation has adopted a travel component that it didn’t use to have it, and that’s the reason we as travelers are more attuned to it.
1985: the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking
1985: hijacking of TWA in Cairo
1988: Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie
1996: Atlanta Olympic bombings
1998: American embassies bombed in Kenya and Tanzania
2005: 7-7 city bombings in London subway
2008: Slaughter in Mumbai
All the above specifically and successfully targeted travelers on airplanes or tourist hotels, or used travelers to get to their target. There were scores of other unsuccessful attacks like the shoe- and underpants-bombers. That’s a generation and counting of terrorism redefined to some extent by travel.
3. MOST MUSLIM TERRORISTS ARE NOT IDEOLOGUES, JUST WELL PAID
This nonsense that Mideast suicide bombers are half wits who believe they are tending roses in heaven is more baldersash. It just drives me crazy. THEY GET REALLY WELL PAID!
They are completely unlike the long history of soldiers who went into battle for ideological and religious reasons expecting to die fighting.
The most recent ideological suicide soldier was the kamikaze. And the phenomenon did not begin until the loss of Iwa Jima, after which rational people, including well trained Japanese soldiers, knew there was no hope. Read this for a thoughtful explanation of soldier ideologues.
There have been thousands of reports like the ones above corroborating that today’s suicide bombers in the Mideast do it mostly for money, not mostly for their soul or honor, and yet leave it to Americans to twist this around. This fundamental mistake is something the rest of the world doesn’t make.
This account of suicide bombers as relates kamikazes is accurate, but totally inaccurate regarding current Muslim terrorists. It’s typical of the American Right’s, mostly religious, repositioning of facts. This casts a simple proposition, that Muslim suicide bombing can be valued in dollars, into the heavenly worlds of moral conflict making it much more difficult to deal with.
This is because the current conflicts in the Mideast are all economic ones, not ideological ones. Virtually all the major conflicts on earth have been economic and this is no different. The people with more power need oil currently lived on by people with less power.
This is a tough situation and I don’t mean to belittle it in any way. I don’t think it’s clear that we as the people with more power shouldn’t have equal or more rights to the oil than the people who live on top of it. But that’s a different problem, one with a different analysis.
By redefining an economic problem into an ideological or religious one, the arguments are driven less by facts and much more by emotion. And ultimately the only way to win an emotional argument is to be more fanatic.
Please watch this.
It’s heart wrenching. Sunday’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” stripped our current conflict to its reframed religiosity. And it’s so clear there’s no resolution in sight. So long as religion dominates the perspective, this war will never end.
4. THE CERTAIN WAY TO LOSE THIS WAR IS TO INCREASE THE FIGHTING
“War Against Terrorism” is as inappropriate a phrase as the “War Against Drugs” or the “War Against the Lunacy of 13-year-old Boys.” The real war today is a “War Against People Who Live Over Oil They Won’t Give Us at a Fair Market Price.”
It has been the longest war in the history of the modern world. It began when Edwin Drake extracted the first black liquid from Pennsylvania in 1859. The war really heated up when most of the world’s known oil shifted out of Texas and Oklahoma to godknowswhere deserts in the Mideast only about 50 years ago.
It was sometimes a military fight, but mostly a cultural and diplomatic one. We violated all sorts of our own values in this campaign to annex land for ourselves and our European partners so we could have its oil. We bribed, applied our laws to theirs, fixed markets, we tried everything possible until finally, we had to shoot.
And during this lengthy fifty years or two generations, the poor souls living over there noticed how fancy the cars were that were using oil. Before iPhones that was a bit more difficult, but now you can send a picture of a Dodge Ram all over the world in seconds.
We got richer. They got poorer. We got richer because of their oil.
Doesn’t compute, does it?
What would you do, a young, yet vibrant desert youth whose abs haven’t been yet emaciated for lack of proper nutrition? You watched your grandfather and your father die loathsome deaths mostly from smoking Philips cigarettes. And then with your iPhone, you saw what’s under your home made Jenny the prettiest, richest homecoming queen in the world. How come you can’t wear a carnation?
Today’s terrorism is fire. It’s the fire in the soul of two generations of Mideasterners mostly being denied their rightful development.
Terrorism’s fire is fueled by desperation, wont, poverty. What else can you call a suicide bomber? Don’t fool yourself that they all think they’re going to paradise. This is a very attractive job.
Terrorism must be watered down, not fired up. Terrorism will decline only as the desperation in the world declines, and not a second before. Until then, it will increase, and for those of us fortunate enough to not be so desperate, it will be something effecting our lives …always.
JIM’s SOLUTION TO ENDING THE CONFLICT WITH RADICAL MUSLIMS
It’s kind of hard to do this, because the numbers just won’t stay still:
Anyway, let’s give it a try. During my final edit this morning, the number was One Trillion, eight-nine billion, seven hundred and twenty-four million, one hundred and sixty-five thousand, eight hundred and thirteen dollars.
It’s been three thousand, two hundred and eighty-five days since we invaded Aghanistan on October 7, 2001.
That means, roughly give or take a few cents, we’ve been spending
$331,727,295.50 per day.
Now the area of Iraq and Afghanistan is 426,034 sq. miles. So if we divided how much we’ve been spending per day, that means we’re spending $778.64 each day on every square mile of those two countries.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to reduce the $778.64 by about one four-thousandths of a penny, one four-hundred-thousandths of a dollar so that my wife’s favorite local state historical site, the Apple River Fort, can be kept open, which has faced possible closure for budgetary reasons.
That leaves $778.64 available each day for every square mile, which I would bundle up in cheerfully wrapped packages using Halliburton‘s Christmas Wrapping Division, and then drop from a helicopter. Over the course of a year, that’s roughly the salaries of ten suicide bombers in each square mile, or in total, way more than whatever total has ever been paid to all the suicide bombers in the history of mankind.
What do you think?
Brilliant summary Jim!!! I wish you were in control of U.S. foreign policy.