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Accountability, December 16, 2001 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: December 16, 2001
"Accountability" [permalink]
    keywords: foreign policy, army, war, military, intelligence, Al-Qaeda, counter-terrorism, security, government
    soapbox #: 324
    written: December 18, 2001
    words: 2652

"Accountability", an Essay

Remember when people said immediately after 9/11 that the US would provoke terrorists in ways that would bring about the Apocalypse? Remember when they said Afghanistan could not be cleansed of its settled terrorist network? Remember when they said the Russians failed, and so would we? Remember when people said sending troops to Afghanistan would mean many US servicemen killed, and there would be massive retaliation by so-called sleeper cells living within the US? Remember when some people were rushing out to buy gas masks and cipro? Do you remember all that crap?

Here we are now, with the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces being routed and chased into the mountains, where they're still getting their clocks cleaned, with Afghanistan trying once again to form a more stable, equitable government (we'll see how long it lasts, but at least the opportunity has been given to them), and the so-called giant-killer, Afghanistan, after four short months, looking like roaches scurrying away from the kitchen floor when the light is turned on.

Remember when everyone was saying bombing wouldn't work? That we'd have to send in ground forces? Remember all the bitching about US bombs hitting unintended targets, as if the military was targetting civilians and Red Cross warehouses intentionally? HAHAHA, NO VACCINES AND BLANKETS FOR ANYONE!! BWAHAHAH!

Here's one for you. Remember Vietnam and WWII, when they'd just drop a whole bunch of shit onto random patches of land and hope it'd hit something important? Did you see how many innocent people died as a result of THOSE primitive forms of weaponry?

It's time for a fucking reality check. It's time for the people who criticized these aspects of what the US did to say that they got it wrong. They won't, of course, because they will justify their argument some other way. Like how Americans DID die, or lots of innocent Afghanis died from US attacks. Or how Muslims now hate Americans even more. (which is not really the truth, but mostly scare propaganda) Stuff like that. As if war involved making bad men just disappear without accident. As if we could point a laser at a terrorist and he'd vaporize instantly. As if current US tactics and weaponry aren't far more humane than warfare has been at any other point in history. The military drops fewer bombs with realistically near-perfect accuracy and efficiency. Its troops have extremely low risk of casualty, even given the always-constant "fog of warfare". Fewer innocent people die. Fewer of our people die. Less damage is done to areas that need to be rebuilt after the conflict is over. American interests are secured far faster than any other time in history. Desert Storm is a notable example. And that was ten years ago, an eternity in the timespan of military technology.

It's time for people to say that the US presence in Afghanistan has been a very focused one, one that has done good for more people than it's done bad (the bad arguably not the US's fault most of the time anyway, like local warlords stealing Red Cross supply shipments), that the US has done exactly what it should have done, which is cripple the terrorist network inside Afghanistan and restore power to people who weren't just interested in tyranny.

I am so sick of people bitching when they are consistently proven wrong. It is one thing if you actually have a point, like the civil rights activists do regarding many of the solutions people like Ashcroft have taken towards "national security", involving restricting peoples' rights as American citizens, or even those who aren't yet citizens...that sort of thing. Those people do have good points in many situations. Civil rights are crucial to maintain and fight for! However, I think the whole rhetoric that lots of people love to use these days, involving saying the smallest crackdown on a group of people will lead to some sort of Nazi Germany, is ridiculous. What activists should be are watchdogs, not fear-mongerers.

That is, radical activists make too much out of everything. YES, it is important to protest things you disagree with. YES, you should raise awareness of many issues. But saying it's going to lead to the collapse of America if I don't listen to you is just insane! And it doesn't register with reality. You can complain about bombing, but meanwhile, Afghanistan has the first real stirrings of a civilized nation in decades. You can complain about US imperialism, but meanwhile the overall effect has overwhelmingly been one of unification of countries worldwide, and more cooperation, and more awareness towards world issues in the US. If anything at all, more TALKING between nations. You can complain about a lot of things, but you know what? In fifty fucking years, history will be kind to the US. Some would of course respond, "Well that's because the US is writing it. And the government is editing it afterwards!" Gah!@#

Radical activists spread fear just like terrorists do. The terrorists promised they would strike back, or that they would set off sleeper cells, or that many Americans would die. Radical activists took this up and said millions could die from smallpox tomorrow, or that all Muslims could be put in internment camps tomorrow, or that Bin Laden's death would lead to martyrdom and Muslims would overrun the entire universe, and that blahblahblahblahblah. Meanwhile, the terrorists have been too distracted to do anything since 9/11. Personally, I wasn't afraid at all after 9/11. I had a feeling they'd shot their wad and now the US was paying serious attention.

But fear-mongering got to a lot of people. Peoples' senses of reality were distorted. The media would exaggerate everything on TV just to throw the possibility out there. People bit it bad. My daytrading channel talked about all sorts of crap happening, none of which did. I'm not saying it couldn't have, but I just felt it was unlikely by such a ragtag group of dumbasses that Al Qaeda has pretty much ended up being. OH NO, criminal masterminds blowing up the WTC? It was NOT that hard to plan. SERIOUSLY. The main deterrent is motivation. Something even rabid Islamic fundamentalists struggle with. (see all their notes they write for themselves, telling them to be brave?)

You know what pisses me off? Pacifist clubs in high school. I mean, what the fuck? Do 17 year olds know ANYTHING about world history or politics or culture or ANYTHING besides Britney Spears and PlayStation 2 at that age? You put them in a room with a veteran of World War II and you see how well they attempt to justify their position to someone who actually went through the 20th century and all its horrors. What a load of shit. It's like actors speaking out against things. They're for the most part pampered babies who live in an alternate reality from the rest of us, yet they whine like the best of them.

But let me again state that I do highly respect the most hard-working, wisest, peaceful activists who actually do know what they're talking about and are honestly trying to preserve the values of the nation. They defend the rights of innocent people, and try to keep the Bill of Rights as uncorrupted as possible. They do good things for the nation.

I guess my main issue is that many people are so full of bullshit these days. And when they are proven wrong, they do NOT take accountability for it. They sit there and cry about how Clinton's inaction led to the terrorist attack. How Bin Laden could've been captured but Clinton got a blowjob. Republicans won't cop to the fact that Bin Laden started his jihad against the US because Bush put his troops in Saudi Arabia. They'll say, oh, we were defending Kuwait. While that may have been true, Bush, a tool of the people, ignored the consequences of doing so. Or Democrats will say Bush is a conservative Bible-thumper who just wants to blow Muslim shit up. Or pacifists write the military off as a bunch of screwheads who take human life without regard and love to violate human rights on a consistent basis. Or weak countries like Afghanistan or Iraq will blame the US for ruining their country or not rebuilding it or whatever. Well, WHOSE responsibility is it first and foremost? THEIRS! How about fixing your OWN damn country? Sure, the US could've helped rebuild, but it didn't, and they dealt with it by letting the Taliban set up camp. Oh NO, the US is putting a McDonald's in the Middle East! They're planning to infiltrate us with happy meals! What a laugh. And what a bunch of troopers...cough. Stuff like that.

Meanwhile, I look back at the last few presidents, and a lot of events in recent history, and conclude that it's the American people's fault. None of us cared about Afghanistan or the Israel situation for many years. It was ignored by the news probably not so much because they kept it from us, but because we weren't interested. We got caught up in OJ, Condit, Clinton, etc. Some say that the media forced it upon us. Whatever. People watched. People read. America was obsessed.

America didn't want to send the military to other places around the world. (by the way, geniuses, let's not forget that the military is made up of people like you and me...you know, Americans with families too) Somalia, Bosnia, Israel, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings... Still the American public didn't care for longer than a couple days.

WE ARE GUILTY OF IGNORANCE. Who is going around saying THAT these days? When is it ever OUR fault? When do WE take responsibility? Sure, you'll read a slick article in Newsweek saying that security needs to be tightened, but no one's taking it seriously, even now! I am so SICK of this indifference. People do nothing even while they are attacked. A nation full of lazy cowards.

While I say that, I know that we are hard-working and brave deep down. We're just a little afraid to take a stand on anything right now. We've been since Vietnam bombarded with moral relativism sensitivity discourse. I read something that said that younger people these days are having a harder time coming to a moral judgment on things. As the article I read said, many people were not thinking, "How do we get rid of these terrorists?" but instead, "I understand why they feel this way, and we should try to help terrorists with their problems."

My god.

It's complete naiveté. It's the sort of thing that denied the Holocaust, even still to this day. The reality that some people ARE evil. Many object to Bush's frequent references to "evil-doers". Well, while I laugh at most things Bush says, that silly ol' good ol' Texan boy, I don't really have a problem internally seeing terrorists as evil.

But can we please take a stand on things? Can we be proud and have some self-respect? Can we not come off like a bunch of pansies who sound like stoned college kids musing about auras, feelings, and about the goods and bads of modern forms of psychiatric treatment?

Hey, and other countries aren't innocent of this. You see other countries fumbling around in disagreement about whether to participate by sending troops or assisting at all. They really don't want to stick their necks out. Some countries directly affected by Islamic fundamentalists refuse to admit the scourge that lives within their own borders.

Even the dumbest people who have no inkling of what the world stage is like these days will not hesitate to comment on it. And while everyone should have an opinion on world matters, in my opinion, few actually put in the time to do anything about it. I mean, at least READ something about it. I'm no expert on Middle Eastern affairs, mind you, but I do feel that it's time for Americans to be more active towards world matters. I've written before that complaining or waving a flag isn't enough and that we should stop watching a little TV to do something beneficial towards everyone.

I'm not an insensitive bastard. I do want worldwide peace. I want for there to be radically different cultures which thrive in their own geographic areas so that you actually benefit from travelling all around the world. I want there to be many religions and many languages. More different perspectives for me to learn from! I don't want for there to be war, or murder, or death, or execution, even if it's justified. I don't want to get married or have kids, but I want those who do to have every opportunity to do so, and to enjoy it in the process. I want underprivileged people to succeed. I prefer making love to war. I wish every day was like when the NASDAQ was above 5000. I want people to love waking up every day. I want plenty of thoughtful and insightful films and books to read. I want painters and artists to flourish. I want teachers and policemen to earn excellent salaries. I'm a peaceful person. I've never been in a fistfight and I rarely argue or yell at people. I just want people to be happy, however they choose to find it.

But all that? That's not the reality of today. The world is still brutal in many respects, and some of even our most recent history has been filled with the most primitive and savage stuff man has ever done. Criminals will always exist, and so will people who seek to undermine peace for their own gains. And while the US is not completely innocent by any means, at least it tries to stand for something good and can easily seek to make itself better. The Taliban would never have reformed itself. But the US could do so tomorrow. Most people on this earth are benevolent people in my opinion, and really where most go wrong is their own selfishness. That's what laws against robbery, blackmail, negligence, and many instances of murder are for. But some people are just evil, and we should call them evil, and we should study and understand exactly what makes them evil, and we should deal with them appropriately. Sternly.

And we should also admit when someone does good, and praise them for it. And encourage our children to be good as well. Accountability should be given to those who deserve it. Even if that means blaming ourselves when we do something wrong, or being proud when we do something right. The president is the person we voted for. Barely. The military is an instrument of the people in our framework. Congress is who each state's people voted in. "Of the people, by the people, and for the people" isn't just a clichéd catchphrase. It's how our country operates. I think if people began to remember that, they might realize where criticism should really be directed.

And you know what's funny? Osama made a pathetic plea for Americans to rise up against their tyrannical government. But we ARE the government, we just don't consciously realize that fact. Luckily that's a reasonably easy thing to fix. A lot easier than, say, reforming Islamic fundamentalism. Or trying to start a worldwide holy war. I'd say we're better off, wouldn't you?


 
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