Thursday, June 03, 2004

From There To Here

I have been floating around the blogsphere for about a couple of weeks, reading everything from left politics to right politics, pro-American and con-American Iraqi bloggers, soldiers, civilians, daily life of average people, technical, tyrannical and sometimes just rants. I've joined many comment discussions on all of these subjects and have been educated to say the least.

While floating around, I decided to try blogging (or flogging as the case may be) myself. If nothing else, I feel it will be interesting to start an electronic journal to keep track of my thoughts as I ramble through the days and weeks to come, in what surely is a changed world.

It is very simple for me to point to the day that I woke up and decided to pay attention to goings on outside my usual sphere of influence. On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready for work, taking a shower, getting dressed, I had CNN on to get my morning dose of "world" news. I came out of the bathroom and was sitting down to put on my shoes when I saw the second plane fly into the towers. For a moment, I was stunned. I fumbled for the remote control to turn up the sound. I thought this was an advertisement for a new movie or something. There had been recent reviews of the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, "Collateral Damage" and I thought this was some wild imaginations of the movie. I kept saying to myself, "is this for real?"

Then, Aaron Brown, a CNN anchor appeared and said something like, "Oh my God, another plane just flew into the towers" or something like that. I sat stunned for the next few minutes, watching the fires as I realized that this was for real. It only took me a minute more to realize that this was deliberate. One plane might be an accident, two planes were for a purpose. I didn't know who or what or why, just a vague impression, a word I had heard before: terrorists.

I watched the news for hours, saw the Pentagon, the reports of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. I saw the terrible pictures of people jumping to their deaths. The towers falling. People running, covered in white dust with just their eyes and mouths as dark holes in a ghostly face. I heard about people making phone calls from the planes telling their loved ones good bye. And then the Pentagon pictures as people were pulled bleeding and burned from the building. The pictures are burned in my mind forever.

I didn't go to work until very late. But nobody asked me where I had been. They were all listening to their radios. The TV in the conference room was on and the footage kept playing over and over. I kept waiting to hear from the President. What were we doing? What would we do? He finally came on the TV and told us to remain calm. The government was still working and we would get to the bottom of this.

From that point forward, I was addicted. I haven't really watched prime time TV for 3 years now. My TV is almost constantly turned to one cable news channel or the other. Or I catch programs about terrorism, history of the middle east, CSPAN, etc. The first thing I look at when I turn on my computer is the major media outlets websites. Because, I need to know. I need to know what is going on right now. The morning of Sept 11, the only reason I saw anything or knew anything was because I was late for work. If I hadn't been late, I would have been driving down the road, listening to CD's, oblivious to everything as usual as I went on my merry way.

I don't regret seeing those pictures. Shortly afterwards, there was a big uproar about the constant showing of the pictures on TV making a mass blemish on our psyche, so they stopped playing them. Am I damaged? I don't think so. It woke me and reminded me that my safe little world wasn't all that safe after all and I needed to pay attention.

I said I started looking up information and watching the news constantly, right? I wanted to know who did this and why. What was their agenda? How did it fit in my world? I read books: "The History of Islam"; Queen Noor on the Jewish/Palestinian issue; the history of the Western World and the Middle East. I watched "experts" give their thesis on what motivated the terrorists.

I started hearing something strange. Something that went against my upbringing, my "moral compass" as it were. As people started reviewing the "history" of this action, it sounded like they were telling me that these 19 men had a reason to kill these 3000 people and try to destroy my way of life. They weren't at fault. It was America that was at fault. We were bad people who, through our selfish need to live the life we wanted to, had dealt with bad dictators or governments that had oppressed their people. Since we dealt with these bad people, we were responsible for the oppression of these other people. WE made them into terrorists. WE were to blame for our own death.

I can tell you that this did not sit well with me. As a matter of fact, it made me mad! I mean really angry, can't hardly see straight. After the actual events of Sept 11, I had actually felt a little numb. My focus was: let's find these guys that did this and bring them to justice. And when I thought that, I was thinking: arrest them; bring them to court; try them as murderers. But after I heard these people telling me that we were not really the victims, the 19 men were and, you know, "really, what else should we have expected", I saw red. That's when the word "apologist" entered my vocabulary: somebody who makes excuses for the accused because they were disadvantaged socially and economically; a product of the society they grew up in; bound to behave badly because we programmed them.

As a woman, this kind of ideology of turning the victim into the accused, really hits home. I have seen (and still see) many instances of women who were raped or abused and the attorney for the defense goes after them, smearing their reputations, insisting that their life style, their dress, their actions were the reason they were attacked. That kind of "victimizing the victim" just angers me to no end. And that's what I heard over and over again. The intellectual explaining to me how my nice life, nice house, nice car, nice clothes and nice job had made my government deal with not so nice governments that didn't let their people have such a nice life. Ergo, I was responsible for people wanting to kill me and ruin my nice life.

Maybe there is something wrong with my reasoning, but I have to tell you that is what it sounded like. Then, I saw the pictures of people dancing in the street. Chanting "death to America", "Death to Bush", burning flags and generally looking like they were happy about the situation. The whole time, the leaders of these countries were offering condolences. Condemning these terrible acts. Offering support to the US. Frankly, I couldn't reconcile the two pictures. Somebody was out of touch and I realized it wasn't just me. These same governments quickly had the police run down and shut everybody up. Take the film from the cameras. Don't let anybody see. God forbid, anybody get the idea that their country, their people might be involved in this horrible act. They were like frightened children who think if they just stand still and be quiet they can't be seen.

Then, action. The people who did this were Al-Qaida. A group of terrorists who styled themselves "mujihadeen" or holy warriors, protectors of Islam. They were based in Afghanistan and we needed to get them. And those friendly Arab countries were all ready to help us. Yes, you can fly out of bases from their country. Yes, they will keep the price of oil down. We will help you track down the terrorists, trust us. Those few people don't represent Islam, believe me. Islam is a religion of peace. Our country would never be involved in supporting terrorists. We only support freedom fighters. We only support the poor oppressed Palestinians who want a free Palestinian state. We give money to Muslim charities to help the poor Muslim brethren of our down trodden Arab neighbors not these crazy mujihadeen. It's them you want, not us. We're your friends. Don't mind those couple of thousands of people marching in our streets chanting "death to America". Don't mind those couple hundred clerics in our mosques telling our young men to join the jihad. That's not really us.

OK...Once again, something I couldn't reconcile. These people were trying to separate themselves from the terrorists they were funding. They were funding "Muslim charities" run by political organizations that had military wings for the exact purpose of spreading their fundamentalist Islamic beliefs or killing anyone that didn't conform. That was like the Sein Finn trying to separate themselves from the IRA.

As we prepared to go to Afghanistan, the anti-war chanters started their ringing defeatist chant: War is not the answer! Afghanistan was Russia's Vietnam, it will be our defeat too at the hands of the mujihadeen! We should find out what they want, why they did this to us! We need to understand! Then we are in Afghanistan for about three weeks and the defeatist were chanting again: Quagmire! Vietnam! Give Peace a Chance!

Nope...No peace. Within weeks we were in Kabul and Kandahar. The Taliban was high-tailing it to the mountains and the Afghanis were throwing off their burquas and shaving
beards, welcoming the US forces. No quagmire. No Vietnam. The only depressing part was that we didn't catch Bin Laden. We got a number of his crew, but he had run like the cowardly dog that he was. Hiding in caves and traveling by foot through the mountains. No one knows exactly where he is (or do they?). Speculation seems to be that he is traveling between Pakistan and Afghanistan, using the loyal Pashtun tribes to hide him. The one area of our fight that continues to be poor is our intelligence gathering and analysis. Based on everything I have read and heard, one out of every 1000 pieces of information has some validity or intelligence value. But we still have to put it together with one out of another 1000 pieces to get a piece of the puzzle.

I think we have been close to him many times, but he has more ears in the local places. Now, in 2004, he has dropped of the radar with only an occasional audio tape released. His most highly publicized lieutenant, Abu Al-Zarqawi is running around Iraq causing serious problems for our armed forces and kidnapping civilians. Wait...I get ahead of myself.

Afghanistan is largely subdued with occasional flair ups amongst the tribal elements. Unlike Iraq, Afghan after the fall of the Russian backed government, reverted back to it's tribal organizations as the whole place was in anarchy and this was the only form of "law" the Afghanis knew. Most of the population was too young to remember a time before the Taliban and have no reference to national pride or government. This is going to be a tough battle to create a democracy and overcome tribal connections, but it is well underway with Pres. Karzai in Kabul. Problem here as I see it is that he doesn't have control of the Afghan outer areas. We will have to see how the elections go in September 2004. Interesting thing about these upcoming elections, there is no news coverage. This is largely the forgotten war where the media only covers the deaths of coalition soldiers or "battles between tribes".

Pat Tillman, ex-football player who gave up his career to join the Army Rangers was killed this year. He was hailed as a great hero who took the fight to the enemy; who sacrificed a good living to join the army and fight for what he believes in. That lasted about 30 days. The media had to tear that apart. Recent report says that their were no enemy, just 2 troops that crossed fire. Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire. No hero here. We can't have that. We must examine our heroes within an inch of their lives, look for every defect and hold it up to the public for ridicule so that they can see that their heroes are all paper. Easily torn. We cannot have heroes. That might give people hope. They can have no hope. We must destroy that hope so that they will be like sheep to be led, so when the true savior of the people come and show them the way to utopia, they will be ready....blah, blah, blah.

I know, I know...I am ranting now. The onslaught of negative, demeaning, press is almost unbearable and it has a far worse message in it than any "propaganda" ever spread by our enemies. You are unjust. You are immoral. You have no right to fight back. Your enemy is justified in attacking you. The rich are using you as cannon fodder. Don't fight their illegal, immoral war for oil. What right to do you have to tell someone how to live? You can't even fix your own country.

If you remove "oil" from this rhetoric, you will find the same anti-war commentary all the way back to the Revolution. I'm serious. Look at the Civil War anti-war movement. Lots of folks were insisting that we didn't have to go to war to keep the seceding states in the union or force them to accept the anti-slavery conditions for admitting states. They could be reasoned with. Reasonable people knew it was just a matter of time before slavery would fade away on it's own. We just needed to keep the economic and diplomatic pressure on. Read and be enlightened how the anti-war movement has always insisted that we "just need time." In the meantime, humans were being bought and sold over and over again, tortured, brutally punished while the sides debated. Fortunately, Abraham Lincoln had a few more guts and decided to do the right thing.

Every war, has it's anti-war movement. Usually, they were minimized by our cultural belief in doing what was right and we were able to defeat the enemies of freedom. And yes, I do subscribe to the theory that most of our wars were fought in direct interest of maintaining the freedom of the United States and her allies, because such freedom is anathema to the rest of the world where the top predator usually controls the people and tries to enforce their lone predatory ideology on the rest of the world.

There is one time that we were defeated that haunts us today and keeps the Anti-war people going: Vietnam. The war against communism. The war in which we were not defeated by our enemies, but were defeated by our own lack of moral courage. Give peace a chance. Give north Vietnamese a chance to murder 10's of thousands of South Vietnamese as we exited the peninsula. That was the day we lost all moral rectitude. American citizens danced in the street, chanting "Make Love not War" while men, women and children were slaughtered where they stood. That is the great "Baby Boomer" generation's claim to victory. Not how we defeated the communists and kept some country free, but how they were able to make the US withdraw from an "illegal" war. Victory for the "Free Love" movement.

Well, I was just a baby then, but the thought of it makes me shake my head. A sad day for our great nation, when all that it stands for was trampled in the dirt by people wearing beads and smoking hashish. And we are still recovering from that today. Today, these same people are the age of our leaders. They teach in the schools. They teach that the defeat was a good thing because it taught us humility. These are the people, the folks who cannot forsake their past lives as hippies, but are still trying to relive it that get involved in every anti-war movement. Unless, it suits their purpose. For instance, I do not recall any anti-war group starting any demonstrations when we went to Somalia to give "humanitarian aid"; or to Kosovo and Bosnia to protect the ethnic Albanians and Muslims from genocide.

That was ok. Kosovo and Bosnia are European. We understand them. Somalia is full of poor, starving black people that we see on our TV's everyday. They can't help themselves, the TV said, so we need to help our poor down trodden brothers. Never mind that these people were being over run by gangsters with machine guns, machetes and RPGs. We can save them simply by bringing food in. 18 Soldiers later, we realized that was the worst and most under supplied undertaking ever. And why weren't our soldiers prepared? Because, our compassionate, liberal leaders wanted the Somalis to know we were there for humanitarian purposes only and denied the military appropriate armored vehicles because it might be "intimidating" or "provocative".

HELLO! That is the purpose of the military. The military is the big stick! Later of course, there was all sorts of information about how Al-Qaida was involved in training these guys. Of course, in 1993 I only vaguely understood who "Al-Qaida" was. I knew about the World Trade Center being damaged by a bomb in a rental truck, but I still did not understand who Al-Qaida was. But, I'm getting off point. Military intervention was now only popular if it was a humanitarian crisis, easily identified and supported by Amnesty International. If not, it is illegal and immoral.

I actually supported both the Somalia mission and Bosnia/Kosovo. As a matter of fact, I was really upset when we pulled our troops out of Somalia after we suffered some losses. I understood that this was only supposed to be a humanitarian effort, but once we went after the warlord and he in turn attacked us, it was war and we should have kicked some major ass right then and there. Then Somalia could have been a democracy long before we thought of going back to Iraq. But, we didn't. We withdrew, limping back and gave the terrorists an idea that we were weak and could be defeated.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein, nominal "President" of Iraq, invaded tiny little Kuwait for the purpose of annexing it "back" into Iraq for the supposed reason it had once been a part of the Persian Empire and, therefore, was inherently a part of Iraq.. Bizarre. Really, the only purpose was to get access to more oil and more land with a sea port. Saddam recognized he could not be a true power in the region unless he had a Navy by which to assert his will on neighboring countries by land, air and sea. Saudi Arabia, et al were afraid that Saddam would target them next and asked for our assistance. This required direct intervention of our military because the Saudi military was not large enough nor well enough trained to keep Saddam out of Saudi while we set back and just sold them weapons and ammunition.

And, Saudi is an important exporter of oil. Not that we buy that much of their oil, but the amount that they pump and sell has a profound effect on the cost of oil on the market. Eg, gas is higher or lower, other energy is higher or lower, cost of goods is higher or lower (due to transportation costs), etc, etc. So, letting Saudi and other OPEC friends get over run by Saddam Hussein was not in our (the US) best interest or those of the rest of the world who would have been thoroughly screwed if Saddam got his hands on the major oil reserves of the world. The little Stalinist wannabe would have been rubbing his hands together, chuckling with glee while he played yo-yo with the world's economy and we tried to keep our countries from falling apart. The crazy b*stard was too schizoid to understand how the oil game was played and why you don't rock the boat, because it might tip over.

And it did, dumping the remains of his army on the highway north to Baghdad. But, I jump ahead. Let's not forget important parts of the story. The United States already had some bases in Saudi. Small parts of existing Saudi bases, particularly air fields where we helped train and trained with their pilots. We, the infidels, of the United States of America, in order to form an imperfect union and perpetrate hedonistic acts on the devout and righteous Muslim population, had invaded Saudi Arabia with our soldiers at their request. There was, in short, an uproar by the imams and more devout of the population who insisted that our soldiers be confined to their bases to avoid contaminating the perfect Saudi blossoms of Islam.

In otherwords, keep your democracy, freedom, Christianity and immoral ways from our population. And, we did. Not that it made the more militant, Wahabi Qu'ran thumpers happy. They were just plain pissed that "infidels" were in the holy land. Enter our friendly mujihadeen from Afghanistan. Remember, this is only 1990, well before 1993 World Trade Center bombing or the 9/11/2001 attacks.

Al-Qaida (the base) was formed in Afghanistan to expel Russia and defeat communism (once again). The US supported the Afghan rebels with money and weapons throughout the 1980's. Thousands of Russian soldiers died, I'm sure thinking they were fighting for the motherland. But, it was a proxy war for the US and we spent a chunk of change to win it with out spending our blood. Once the Ruskies withdrew, the Mujihadeen joined the Taliban (holy students) and took over the governing of the country, purging the commie government. Then they purged the women. Then they purged anybody who didn't fit into their Islamist world. Then Afghanistan was a subjugated and bankrupt state that routinely beat, maimed and killed it's citizens for the smallest transgressions.

In 1990, Al-Qaida and friends were just getting started in Afghanistan. When Saddam invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi, Al-Qaida offered to come to Saudi and fight a gorilla war against Saddam. This offer came from Osama Bin Laden. A Saudi citizen who had been living as a "freedom fighter" in Afghanistan for almost 10 years. He was wealthy in his own right. His father had left him millions of dollars from a Saudi construction company. He had went to school in England and was well educated. The Saudi's were not interested in the offer. Basically, they did not want a bunch of "holy warriors" roaming around the country. How were they supposed to get rid of them after the battle was over? What if they didn't go back to Afghanistan? What if they hung out in Saudi and fomented revolution against the "corrupt" leaders?

These were very real dangers for the Saudi Royal family and they decided to make a deal with mean the United States instead to preserve their power. Al-Qaida was too well supported in Saudi by charitable organizations to fund the "holy warriors" and the imams in the mosques preaching the duty of "jihad" which was being interpreted as "holy war" with infidels and heretics instead of the personal "jihad" which is your own struggle with good and evil in your life and the struggle to give yourself totally to God (or Allah in this case). OBL (Osama Bin Laden) went away pissed and was stewing in Afghanistan.

But, as I said, the Saudi Royal family had not stayed in power all this time because they were stupid. Enter the US. Many more US soldiers and British and French and German, etc. It was the largest coalition of countries since the UN Korean Debacle. But this time, it was ass kicking time for Saddam. You can always tell when somebody believes their own press. This guy really thought that his Arab brothers (who he had been intimidating and threatening for years if not directly at war) would come to his defense. He really believed he was Saladin, the savior of the Arab world. So..When we told him to get out by January 15, 1991, the dumbass would not withdraw. Somehow, he thought that his million man army of tanks, artillery and infantry could stand up to constant bombardment of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world. I think he was smoking hashish or something (I heard a rumor recently that he was self medicating; very common for people who are schizophrenic, manic or bipolar; they think they can control their own emotional roller coaster with drugs and alcoholic. If he had only read more western literature or joined AA he would have known better).

In 6 short weeks, his infrastructure was ruined and his military was reduced to just about nil. His guys were running so fast that they caused a traffic jam on the main highway back to Baghdad. It was a "duck shoot" for the Coalition. As a matter of fact, the media started calling it a massacre (which, in the literal sense of the word it was) and public opinion was starting to turn. We are, after all, a compassionate group of people who hate to see blood shed just for the sake of blood. Unfortunately, ending the battle there was not exactly the best plan.

Let me return momentarily to the anti-war "not in our name" "no blood for oil" group. It is in my opinion, had we not interfered and Saddam got the oil reserves secured, we would have had one hellatious recession if not depression set in on us. I think we would have seen some serious lines at the gas station, retro 1978. Then the same people would have been blaming the government for a failed economy and screaming why they hadn't done something to prevent this. Some people will never be satisfied.

Other issue here...George Bush I re-enacted the "Bay of Pigs" on the Shia population of Iraq. The US, thinking they had seriously destroyed Saddam's military, started whispering that now might be a good time to revolt. The US would support them. Of course, there were no outright guarantees of direct military support because, really, it was supposed to be against our constitution and the Monroe Doctrine to interfere with governments "outside the sphere of the American continent". Which means we can screw with Argentine, Chile, Mexico, etc in the interest of our country because we reside in the region, but we are not supposed to help depose other governments in other hemispheres directly unless we have declared war for other purposes (talk about outdated in the new global world!). Hence, no tanks or aircraft support, but we support you theoretically.

And, here we go again, the Shia revolt and Saddam crushes them with his Republican Guard that he had held back from the war and was largely intact. When I say crush them, I mean massacring entire villages. Men, women and children bombed out of existence, shot in the back of the head. Heads crushed by brute force. Women raped and murdered. Mass graves of the Nazi holocaust variety. We stood by and watched it happen. I don't understand all the reasons. Was it world opinion who insisted we were not responsible for regime change? Was it our own worries about how we would administer the country and rebuild it once we got in there (and no doubt we would)? Was it pressure from the regional Arab countries that were worried an unstable Iraq would make their own countries less stable? Make their ability to produce and deliver oil untenable? Was it all of these things rolled up in one?

I don't know. Don't know if I really will ever understand. Looking back now does not change the situation, but let us hope it was an eye opener for future administrations. At the time, I was worried I was blood thirsty because I really thought we should have just gone down town to Baghdad and got rid of the SOB then. But we didn't. The only thing we were able to do was institute "No Fly Zones" in northern and southern Iraq to try to keep the bastard from using gunship helicopters on his people. That worked a little, but certainly did not stop the movement of his ground troops within the country as they went about the business of extermination whole populations like an ugly remake of the Nazi SS.

This starts 13 years of "containment" policies in which we fought an undeclared war. Occasionally, his troops would lock on to our aircraft with radar and we would respond by blowing the crap out of the installation. Then there was the blow up of the "milk factory" because it had duel purpose equipment. Arab television (who would not exist if we had not protected their hypocritical asses) started referring to us as the great Satan again and proclaiming how we were oppressing the poor people of Iraq. In addition, embargos and sanctions were in place that were supposed to make it difficult for Saddam to get weapons, but he could exchange oil for food through the UN. That was another debacle that was only discovered recently. Saddam was giving kick backs (basically laundering money). Giving cash to administrators and countries supposedly for food and medicine, only to get it back in the form of weapons or in cash at a reduced rate (like $.50 on the dollar) in outside bank accounts. There is truly nothing good in this world that some asshole can't figure out how to muck up.

So...The Iraqi people starved while he played "Victorious Uncle Saddam" to the Arab masses. I can never figure out how these people could turn the massacre of 600,000 soldiers as they ran with their tails between their legs into a victory for Saddam. I think the whole region has been subject to mass hypnosis through the call of the imams at the mosques or maybe subliminal messages on Al-Jazeera. If you can imagine believing everything you heard from your government or some talking head on TV being a legitimate means of information. It was mass delusion or maybe self delusion. Crazy in short.

In the meantime, back at the ranch, Osama and friends were just getting started. They saw themselves as defenders of the true faith and the Muslim/Arab culture and had been turned away by the hedonistic rulers of Saudi Arabia in favor of the great Satan. This of course meant war. Undeclared war without warning to the combatants, but war it was. First, bombing US service personnel, Yemen in 1992, the World Trade Centers bombing number one in 1993, various unsuccessful plots for several years, declare war on western civilization in 1998Jihad Against Jews and Christians, bomb Kenyon and Nairobi embassies 1998, bomb USS Cole in Yemen 2000, Sept 11, 2001 (need I explain?), and the list goes on and on and on. Fast Facts About Al-Qaida

All you have to do is read their own garbage to know that these people only have one plan in mind, kill the infidel, be they civilian or military, spread the faith of Islam, "free" the Arab nations from their Crusader/Jewish overlords and restore Islam and the Muslim nations to it's rightful place as THE greatest nation on earth, etc, etc, etc. There are many more publishings and statements by the "great Shaiyhk" OBL and friends that state their intent and purpose. I did not need to read nor hear all of this fanatical rantings to know their intent.

All this, while we slept. Watching our political leaders becoming laughing stocks, spilling their guts about adultery, under the table financial deals, campaign contributions from foreign countries, potential murderers and definite destruction of the constitution and standing amendments with Supreme Court rulings meant to stomp out the last vestiges of religion from the government (which I did not know was so damn rampant really; never paid it much mind; didn't effect me. Seriously, I may be technically a Christian, but I'm not a holy roller and certainly never tried to inflict my beliefs on anybody. Pretty much seemed that the government wasn't actually doing that either, but I guess the socialist/atheist/enlightened folks were just waiting for us to be distracted by the tabloid politics so they could finish up creating the socialist world they started under LBJ. Let's hear it for welfare and social security! Yippee! A bankrupt policy with bankrupt politicians! Let's get more of that!)

It was more than obvious that they intended to destroy the United States by whatever methods possible on September 11, 2001. They are very good at learning military strategy and applying it within their limited resources. They did take on and defeat the Russian Empire, USSR. Of course, the USSR was actually trying to spread communism and develop communist client states and I don't blame anyone for not wanting to live under that rule. But, I will not consent to live under the rule of some crazy mullah who wants to tell me what I can think, wear, hear, say or when I can eat, drink, piss, pray and sleep. Not happening as long as I can stop it.

On September 11, 2001, the terrorists tried to apply the military equivalent of "taking off the head of the snake" by simultaneously striking our financial center (World Trade Center); command and control of military (Pentagon); and leadership (Congress/White House) with four planes. This was not just an "attention" getter as many people would like to believe. This was an all out strike on the US infrastructure. If it had succeeded in it's actual aims, I am sure I would not be writing this blog today. I would be like the people during the depression, working any job to get whatever money I could to survive while trying to avoid the gangs of criminals that would certainly come out of the wood work and make life miserable or attempting to get home by curfew because I am more than positive that we would have been immediately under martial law.

Fortunately for me, most companies did not believe in having all of their information in one place and there were many other stock exchanges through out the country that took on most of the work while New York wept. Terrorists did not understand the workings of our financial system. Fortunately for me, our grandfathers knew that military commands should be in appropriate fortified structures and had built the Pentagon to this purpose. Pentagon shapes are notoriously strong and particularly so when coupled with the architecture rules applied to medieval castles: concentric walls meant to keep the enemy contained away from the true center of power. Not to mention the NORAD command that would have taken over in the event the Pentagon was destroyed.

Fortunately for me, passengers on flight #93 found out what had happened and knew that they were going to die and probably take many other innocent people with them. They rose up and decided to go down fighting if necessary. They crashed in a Pennsylvania field, 30 minutes from their destination. The first civilian heroes in the fight against terror in the 21st century. May God grant them peace. That day, a phrase took hold in our conscience: "Let's Roll".

The things that the terrorists did not consider when attacking the United States:

1) Redundancy is the key to our survival. All of our government, military and financial systems have had redundant (back up programs) from the day of their conception. Through this method, regardless of war or natural disasters, the free and democratic government of the United States would continue.

2) The true spirit of the citizens of the United States. We are like a big family. We can argue amongst ourselves, but don't ever mess with our brother or sister or insult our mother or father because we will stop arguing between ourselves long enough to kick your ass. (of course, when the perceived threat has dissipated, we will be back at it again, arguing amongst ourselves)

3) The concept of biting the hand that feeds you must not exist in the Qu'ran or be translatable to the Arabic language. If you bite the hand that feeds you, the other hand is probably holding a big stick and will beat you until you let go of the hand and run away with your tail between your legs. (Please note that OBL and crew are still hiding somewhere, praying to Allah that an unmanned predator will not appear over the horizon and drop a laser guided missile on their asses)

Today, these guys realize that they cannot attack us directly without severe consequences. Instead, they go after our weaker allies in an attempt to intimidate them into retreat. Which they succeeded in doing to Spain and are attempting to do by de-stabilizing Saudi Arabia with attacks on foreign personnel and oil infrastructure. They are in Iraq now, working like fiends to prove that democracy and western civilization is not the future of Iraq, only the word of Allah is law. (they will be getting the surprise of their lives shortly).

So...I mentioned already that Afghanistan was a relative success, although today, we are still trying to educate and disarm the masses of tribesmen to shove democracy down their throats whether they like it or not. I did hear a rumor that we only went to war to control the fabled "Afghan Oil Pipeline" that would supposedly guarantee scads of oil from Tajikistan or Uzbekistan or one of the "stans" nearby. These folks must have been sleeping on September 11. Maybe they were in a coma for a couple of months? Don't know. But the death of 3000 Americans, Aussies, Brits, Italians, Saudis, Pakistanis, Mexicans, French, German, and the list goes on, is a good enough reason for me to gear up the military and start stomping ass.

I know...Not very enlightened of me, but what can I say? I am just a barbarian at heart.

Fastforward to 2002. Now we come to Iraq. Why, oh why was Iraq important? Many ask that question. Most must not pay attention. They only hear sound bites on the TV. WMD. No blood for oil (not that again). Illegal war. Free Iraq. Spread democracy. Saddam is Stalin's twin brother (or son). Mass Murder. Mid-east peace. Zionist attempt to take over Arab world. Crusade of religion (WTF?). Not in our names (yes, that again). Infidels. Terrorists. UN Resolutions. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And this list goes on. But, Iraq had a purpose.

If you listen to the conspiracy theorists, they will tell you that there was a long ago plan by the neo-conservatives, just waiting for the right moment to be whipped out and applied to the middle east. They will tell you that every moment, every disaster has been orchestrated by the Zionist west in order to come to this moment when they can legitimately invade the Arabic region and steal the oil for themselves, humiliate the Arab world and denigrate the great prophet. Or, you can take out the word "Zionist" and "humiliate the Arab world ...denigrate the great prophet" and you will get the conspiracy theory of the Left Wingers in the US. The movie stars, Harvard/Yale graduates, left over hippies, save the planet, don't eat meat, make love not war, smoke hashish, I only drive an SUV for safety, we need more social (welfare) programs, enlightened intellectual experts on foreign and economic policy.

Ok...Maybe I got off target here with my rant. Hopefully, my description is making you laugh instead of think that I am some right wing, white power, Jesus forever crack pot. I only say it like this because I have had it boiling inside of me for so long. It just had to come out! This is what I was talking about, way back in this posting: victimizing the victim. Mix that in with some moral relativism and you have a whole crowd of people blind to the truth (at least the way I see it).

But, this is what brings us to Iraq. I hope I didn't jump around too much and make this as confusing as a Quentin Tarantino movie (pulp fiction), where you had better not leave or start reading in the middle. In my next posting, I will explain why Iraq was important (per my understanding); why the conspiracy theorist have part, but not all of the story; and why, after years of voting Democrat, I became an avid supporter of the Republican Party.

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