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Re: Tragedy in the USA

Subject: Re: Tragedy in the USA
From: Marc Sayer <>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 22:12:28 -0700
Well Les and I have been watching the news coverage of the events all day and
trying to go on with our regular work, but it has been hard. While I do have
family in that immediate aream of the WTC, I am not close to them and can not
possibly comprehend what those who are from the area or have loved ones in the
area are feeling just now. A lot has been said on the list today, some in
frustration, some in anger, and some in an attempt to refocus people. I agree
with the comments that called for restraint when painting entire ethnic or
religious groups. We do not yet know for sure who was behind this and even if
our current guesses turn out to be right, the actions of these people are in
direct opposition to the Koran. While "Islamic fundamentalists" may frequently
hide behind their religion, they are not true practitioners of it. To condemn
all Muslims for their behavior would be a travesty.

Having said that... I believe, and I chose that word rather than the word feel
for a reason, that the US needs to react to this event in a devastating way. I
believe that our response needs to be so horrific that no one would ever
contemplate supporting this sort of act again. We need to find who was
responsible and who aided, abetted, or gave any sort of support to them, and we
need to make the cost of doing this, or supporting those who did, so high and so
terrible that people will shudder at the thought of it.

We must make the act of terrorism, be it direct action or simple support and
assistance, unthinkable and counterproductive. We can not maintain a free
society and also prevent people who want to do something like this from doing
it. No amount of airport security etc., is going to work, and even if it did we
would lose our free society in the process. OTOH we can dissuade people from
wanting to do these sorts of things by making the results of them so unpleasant
it just isn't worth it.

This is simple behavior modification. It works to train and retrain animals and
humans, and it will work for this. We as a society have been negotiating,
placating, and being the compromiser for too long. It isn't working. Yes in the
short term placation and negotiation may avoid some unpleasantness, but in the
long run it leads to more and more situations where placation and negotiation is
needed. You can negotiate with a kidnapper and get one specific person back, you
can not fight kidnapping in general by negotiating with kidnappers. In the US
bank robberies are generally up. Why? because policy is to allow the robbers to
take the money and then worry about catching them afterwords. While this does
often avoid injuries and deaths on an incident by incident basis, it leads to
more and more people being put at risk because bank robbing has become a
relatively safe crime for the criminal. The robbers know it and know they almost
certainly will not be shot during a robbery. Does this make bank patrons safer
in the long run? I do not think so. 

I believe we should nuke the country or countries responsible for harboring the
perpetrators, and nuke them into the stone age. We failed to fully eliminate the
source of the problem in the Gulf War and that was a mistake that has cost
thousands of lives, both of US troops, and of Islamic and other ethnic groups. I
do not say we should retaliate with nukes in anger, or from a need for revenge.
I feel neither of those emotions. I say it because those countries are
responsible for what happened as sure as if they had launched the attack
themselves, and they must be made to pay an unacceptably high price for their
involvement. No effective terrorist group can function without the support of
the local government. You can't set up a functioning terrorist camp where you
can plan and practice for this sort of international terrorism unless the
government at least turns a blind eye. We need to make it so costly to any
government to do so, that they will refuse to support terrorists. 

The attack was clearly an act of war. In fact it was worse than an act of war
because it hides behind anonymity and because it was perpetrated on an
unsuspecting civil population. Wars must be fought to be won as quickly and
decisively as possible. Yes there will be people who did not support their
country's actions, but who will pay the ultimate price for those actions. That's
life. And the leaders can not be allowed to hide behind their populace. Leaders
can not be allowed to profit from holding their populace hostage. Ultimately, a
populace is responsible in a way for the actions of its leaders, and even in a
country as repressive as some of these countries are, the populace must still
pay for the actions of the country. It can't be helped, and allowing the country
to go unpunished would lead to far worse events and far more innocent lives

Often people will say we can't retailiate because these terrorists want to die
and that they do not fear death. That by getting us to retaliate they will win.
Maybe so. I figure if they really are that rabid, and unfit for living with
others, then removing them from the planet is like killing off a cancer. If we
continue to allow them to attack the healthy body, more and more healthy cells
(or innocent people) will be killed. If we take our medicine some healthy cells
might die along with the cancer, but the cancer will be killed off too, and no
more healthy cells will be put at risk. We didn't create this situation, we
don't like being put in this position, but we damn well are in it and we damn
well need to start doing something about it. We all know the old saw, I didn't
start this fight, but I am going to finish it. 

One last thought. Why were the Palestinians celebrating in the streets because
of this? Aren't they the ones who keep complaining about the Israelis attacking
innocent civilian targets and condemning such actions as criminal? How do they
then celebrate the targeting of innocent civilians here in the US? The case can
be made that the Pentagon was a valid military target, but the WTC was a
*civilian* target. Perhaps these innocent Palestinian civilians aren't quite so
innocent as they claim to be. Maybe instead of trying to negotiate a peace
between the Israelis and the Palestinians we should instead be helping Israel
hold and defend its lands. The Israeli government may be repressive, but it is
not a supporter of international terrorism and its people do not rejoice in the
streets at the deaths of innocent civillians in another country.

Okay I am off my soapbox. :-0

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