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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-25 - 3:44 p.m.

It's More Than a War

Yes, Virginia...this is the my second journal of the day!

Comments 7/25/04 from Fareed Zakaria, NEWSWEEK International Editions Editor/Columnist, and Kevin O'Connell, Director of Intelligence Policy Center, National Security Research Division, RAND Corp.

They agreed that the conflict in Afghanistan soon after 9/11 fed the idea that war on terrorism was a real war, whereas in fact it is precisely because it cannot be addressed militarily that it is such a threat. They believe the Bush administration's approach has been counterproductive...and that "It is a pivotal moment for whoever occupies the White House in the next four years. He has the opportunity to act not as a crisis manager [my note: not as a War President], but a strategist, shaping American policy not for the next few years but for the next few decades. And if he does it right, it could even mean success."

They said "he needs to step back, reflect, reason, and construct a longer-term, sustainable strategy." In other words, bring foreign policy back in, while offering an example of moral leadership in the world, treating people humanely, abiding by the rule of law, and being generous and caring to our neighbors - a common and coordinated approach, sharing intelligence - a global multilateral system.

* * * * * * * *

This from an article I wrote just days after 9/11: How to Make Sense of the Senseless (Note: I'm still trying!)

"For the days just preceding 9/11, the middle school student I am helping to homeschool had been studying the Middle East and the U. S./Israeli refusal to participate in the Conference on Racism. We had been reading the news and discussing the Middle East conflict. After 9/11, we suddenly had a new appreciation of what life must be like for those around the world who live daily with terrorism and constant unrest in their communities. How can we ever hope to repair the world when issues that face us are so far reaching and complex? How can we ever hope to heal when we already hear talk of war – of acts of revenge and retaliation that may threaten the lives of other innocent people.

As many people from countries far and near sent messages of sympathy and disbelief that something like this could happen in the U. S., the TV coverage showed Arabs cheering, perhaps speaking for many with, “Do you get it now?" Do you get now what it is like to live with constant threats of imminent violence, the ever-present anxiety and danger and fear that many people live with daily, not only in Israel, but also in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, all over the Middle East? How we in America have taken our freedom and peace for granted! Yes, now I am beginning to get it.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more,
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirits alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye.

Sorting through this series of surreal events, through layers of rage, grief and blame, I realize that to gain further meaning and to fully appreciate the joys in life again will take time. And like the disaster workers sifting through the wreckage, in the end I don't yet know what else I will find in my search.

When you’ve lost a loved one tragically and abruptly, seeing a new tragedy like this unfold before your eyes sends you reeling. It isn’t that I’m suffering flashbacks, although that acrid sick metallic taste of smoke seems to linger in my mouth when I see the flames light up the sky. It’s the flash-forwards that are causing me to lie awake at night – flash-forwards to what the victims, the injured and uninjured survivors, families, friends, and colleagues of those who are missing are experiencing now and will have to endure in the near future. It is the concern that the sabre rattling I hear will lead to random acts of retaliation, as well as all-out World War III. My God. The horror. The heartache. Pain beyond all imagining.

Even my physical body remembers how it is to suffer this kind of emotional trauma. I walk around distractedly trying to keep busy and then I stop suddenly to weep. I watch television for a moment and turn it off. On and off. On and off. I can’t bear to watch; I can’t bear not to watch. I get the chills, followed by a feverish flush, followed by acute nausea. Much like when the numbness began to wear off and the horror and reality of Glen and Keith’s last few hours really began to sink in after our fire. I wake at 3, 4, and 5 a.m., Glen and Keith’s hospital rooms a vivid memory – flashbacks of the fire and its aftermath.

I seek to understand how these terrorists -- people who might have been our neighbors -- could have come to the point of abandoning their families, risking their lives for what must be solemn beliefs. What must their pain and suffering have been to get to this place? Is it like a cult who will follow their leader anywhere and in anyway? What drives the Islamic jhadist?

As the media pundits call out for retaliation, few try to shed some light on what might motivate this anti-U. S. sentiment in the Middle East. One exception was ABC’s Jim Wooten, who reported that “Arabs see the U. S. as an accomplice of Israel, a partner in what they believe is the ruthless repression of Palestinian aspirations for land and independence.” He continued, “The most provocative issues: Israel's control over Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem; the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia near some of Islam's holiest sites; and economic sanctions against Iraq, which have been seen to deprive children there of medicine and food.

I believe it is so important to examine the highly contentious role of the United States in the Middle East in order to illuminate some of the forces that have given rise to this violent extremism. That, I think, would contribute far more to public security than do pundits calling endlessly for indiscriminate revenge. Violence is sure to beget more violence. Posse justice resembling the “Wanted, Dead or Alive” posters of yesteryear as advocated today by our President with a smirk on his face will not resolve the situation – in the short or long term. It is my prayer that our leaders and the people across the country who are devastated by this attack on our country will act like adults, not like children in a sand pile.

Although I am deeply saddened by what has happened, I plead with those responsible to deal with the perpetrators in a rational way that does not create more and long-lasting ill will and future retaliations. Arrest, trial, dialogue, negotiation, a degree of compromise over the issues that plague us – whatever it takes to be responsible in our efforts to seek those guilty and not threaten the lives of more innocent people for the sake of proving our might. Two wrongs never make a right. Like the children in the sand pile, I think we need a lot of adult supervision right now. Are there enough adults?

* * * * * *

Alas! No one heard me then. I hope now the people of America are listening. I hope the powers that be read the 9/11 report, as well as the thoughts of Clarke, Zakaria and O'Connell...and that calmer heads will prevail.

I wish us enough adults…
I wish us enough…"

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