by Milo Clark
(Swans - August 14, 2006) My tattered flag flies upside down and stretches vainly for half-mast.
Academics are thrilled with new opportunities to turn over old turds and find new grants. Centers for Terror Studies swamp campus facilities, threatening libraries with myriad new books, research studies and journal articles.
Terror, despite what media may imply, operates throughout the planet. It is not confined to Islamic Jihads. Terror abounds in Timor and other Indonesian islands. Much of the Philippines is subject to insurgencies. The folks in the southern Philippines have been fighting for independence for more than 400 years. Terror is very old hat in South America, particularly Colombia and environs. While American militias now appear relatively quiet, remember Oklahoma City and abandon complacency.
Need I mention Iraq? Are Basque ETA people getting restless with a stalled cease-fire? Is Chechnya quiet or repressed for the moment? Are the Tamils active in Sri Lanka? The Kurds quiescent in Turkey? Yemen dormant?
Notice also that multi-billion dollar American grants and weapons sales to these countries end up having little impact on continuing efforts of insurgents, patriots, terrorists, freedom fighters, et al. to gain their objectives.
Is anarchy dead? Communism underground? Marxism on the run? Have Populists abandoned ranting?
However defined or understood, terror now commands a much larger military budget than Soviet Communism at its peak. The vast majority of this funding supplies a war unlikely ever to be fought again. In Iraq, the military reports shortages of lethality appropriate to the contexts encountered. Is this kind of response proportionate or simply politics in action? Is there any really clear direction to face off on terror?
How to define "Terror" or "Terrorist"? Some say terrorists target civilian populations as though armies and air forces don't. If bombed by anyone, am I, a civilian, less terrorized? Dropped from super-sophisticated aircraft and under technologically top-of-the-line guidance, is death and destruction less or more than from somebody who strapped death around himself and pulled the detonator? At least it takes some guts to be a suicide bomber.
A recent article fed to the local newspaper idolized a US Marine sniper who was proud of his twenty or so kills near Ramadi in Iraq. He said he felt nothing as he killed, Catholic upbringing aside. Other reports note the high percentage of returning Iraq veterans needing psychiatric help to deal with their experiences there.
Daily stories now reveal an American military in Iraq targeting civilians, assassinating any young men encountered and doing all the rape and pillage of occupying armies throughout history.
Without an Israel would there be a Hamas or Hizbollah? How about Fatah or PLO? The Palestinians are something below fourth-class non-citizens of a physical space less than a reservation. Much as I hate to mention it, Nazi retaliations now pale compared to what the Israelis exact.
When Israel kills or terrorizes, the American administration applauds. Whatever happened to the facade of honest broker however dishonest viewed historically? Is Condi racking up frequent flier miles, leading a charade or trying to play Kissinger without a Germanic accent?
Terror is a situational variable to the highest degree. It exists in the eyes of beholders, rubble of villages, and graves of victims.
Recently, I have escaped into what are now historical novels of prior enemies as the nasties at the time the book was published. Remember the Soviets? Were there any other enemies for all those years? Are they now missed by the politicians leading the charges up hills partially of their own creation?
After the collapse of the USSR, there was a brief attempt to make the PRChinese the enemy of choice. Then the PRChinese ended up making most of what Wal*Mart sells and became very big buyers of US Treasury bonds. Piss them off and there goes the kids' Christmas toys. Perhaps, there goes the US Treasury. Moral: find other enemies with less economic clout, smaller or no armies, and fewer affluent now US Citizens among the once immigrants.
Marketing people tell you that the easiest to demonize are the fragmented. Terrorists, meaning folks with whom this government disagrees violently, tend to be small groups often without centralized leadership and with vague affinities, weak in actuality. Many learn their bomb making from US Military manuals.
Asymmetrical is a currently popular term to describe opponents who eschew armies and cannot or choose not to mount direct military confrontations. Add in stateless, too. Whether or not a valid comparison, remember the emergence of the Vietnamese from rural terrorists to victors over the once U. S. of A.
It is easy to imagine the Brits of the late 1700s disparaging the rag-tag Yanks who couldn't afford uniforms and hid behind trees to shoot at those nicely phalanxed and rigidly disciplined ranks of redcoats. We forget that our patriots and revolutionaries were the terrorists of their time.
We forget that the Zionists of mid-1940s Palestine were labeled by both British and American authorities of those times as terrorists. We forget that the freedom fighters of Kenya (the Mau Mau), among other once African colonies, were vicious terrorists as defined at the time. We forget that the succeeding statesmen of those and other newly independent former colonies were once despised terrorists. Same for Malaysia, et al.
What makes those who steal your land and deny your country the good guys?
Why does all this stuff go on again and again and again?
Why. . . .everything?
What is a tattered flag to do?
Will it ever again turn right side up and get back to the top of the flagstaff?
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