The core issue still remains this: How real is the threat of terrorism? The experts have convinced me that the threat is real. Does this give carte blanche to the U.S. or any
other country to fight a war on terrorism? It does, provided that the aim is clear,
the intelligence is true, and the results are effective.
Two fears crop up. One is that nothing will happen for awhile, the country will
get complacent, it will let its guard down and then be vulnerable to attack.
The other fear is that in the next two years an attack will occur on U.S. soil
that competes with 9/11 for its brutality and carnage. This would have an
immeasurably worse effect than 9/11 since it will appear, at that time, that the U.S.
is defenseless. After invading two countries, killing and capturing many Al-Queda operatives,
using every means of intelligence to get a bead on terrorist networks, with Homeland
Security, and the rest in place, it would appear the country is an open and easy
target that would result in some kind of crazed response. That is a fear.
The deeper question is, "has the divisions in the world come to this? Is the
hatred for the technologically superior West so profound that bands of people would
dedicate themselves to try and destroy it, using its own technology?"
And what happens to the crucial element of critique when such fears run rampant?
America does not desire to be scorned and hated by the world. And a prudent observer
of the world needs to separate the authentic feelings from the fabricated ones generated
by religious and political leaders who see an excellent opportunity to deflect attention
on their own short-comings. And you have to throw in a good deal of the global intellectual
community into that pot; envious as they are of the success the U.S. has had in defeating totalitarian doctrine.
What would people have the U.S. do? And, if the U.S. were to vanish from the
scene tomorrow, would the world be a better place? Would all its problems be solved?
I doubt seriously whether they would be solved. In fact, when the U.S. disappears from
the stage the world will descend into a dark age again and utterly new configurations
will arise from the carnage and muck; perhaps several centuries worth.
What the American people need to fathom is that the Soviet Union, too, had a great
military, a very sophisticated police and intelligence network, an impressive industrial
base, a hearty population of many millions, huge natural resources in a larger land
mass, and yet disappeared. It does no good to hide behind the power of your own nation.
You need to continually express and manifest the best qualities of that nation. You
must continually build as if a future counts.
Certainly, there are times when fear has the upperhand. When fear says, "this is the most dangerous period of time that America has faced." And it even empties out a scenario that would go along this direction: Several countries, who feel oppressed by the presence of
American power, decide that it would be fitting if it were taken down a notch or two.
And they would outfit a motley band of terrorists to carry out a series of
devastating attacks on vital American interests. And the result would be a deep recession
that would result in the shattering of American hegemony. Is not the world that treacherous?
I think it can be.
We would survive but be diminished and never regain our footing at the pinnacle
of world power. That would result in a wholesale change in history as wars would
break out between alliances. The world would exhaust itself and, finally, this
epoch, our epoch of science, democracy, technology, capitalism, would end.
Could a Roman citizen in the rule of Marcus Aurelius, see what was going
to happen to the Empire in a century or two?
Obviously, these fears were present during the Cold War. But, again, perhaps
the Cold War simply prepared the way for the major superpowers to be destroyed
by the weapons they fashioned to scare off the other. These are fears. And they arise naturally in the types of hatreds that have been spewed of late. And the weapons that
are on the fingertips of hatred. Fears. Not reality, but fears. We need to exercise
wisdom in relation to our fears.
Posted June 18, 2003
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March 27, 2003