by Milo Clark

October 21, 2002


I am loneliest in a crowd
as if suspended in a cloud
and all I do is fall.
--Paul V. Hursh

"Other" may be anything not me. I can make other threatening. I can make other the only alternative possibility. I can make other fearful. I can make other simply other, non-threatening, I can make other just one of many who are not me. No fear needed. No fear given.

When other was separated from humankind, when other was made opposite, duality, dichotomy, enemy, I lost myself, we lost ourselves.

To reclaim myself, to reclaim ourselves, appears a way to revive connection rather than separation. Clearly revival, at a time when politicians choose aggressive war to create peace, is desirable, if unattainable in the moment.

A former president is given the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002. A present incumbent, unelected to office, celebrates a compliant Congress acquiescing to aggression necessary for peace.

In September 2001, we were asked, "What would you do now?" (See The Presidential Speech, October 15, 2001)

Go back over the whole thing, if you will. It stands up well on review, I think. Let's look again at my fantasy of W's speech, though.

The Speech

"My fellow Americans and those of the world audience who are with us tonight," I begin.

"We will never weep enough to end our grief for those who are sacrificed at the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon and in the crashed airliners. They are forever graven into our lives now.

On deep reflection, I cannot in good conscience commit any more to death over these matters. For centuries beyond count, we have chosen more death to avenge deaths done avenging yet other deaths. Now, using those powers vested in my office through the Constitution of the United States of America and mindful of the high values which we claim and sometimes violate, I will dedicate myself to other paths, other ways of dealing with our grief. Ways which I fully believe can and will break the cycles of deaths surrounding too many of the world's peoples.

My first action is to order all military, paramilitary and otherwise armed forces of the United States of America, wherever they may be, to stand down, to return to barracks to use the old phrase. I will assume all allied forces everywhere involved will do the same. Establish defensive perimeters. Launch no offensive actions. Turn the other cheek in whatever words or ways the military need to understand. That order is now issued and immediately effective. Any disobedience will be dealt with according to military and/or civilian laws.

Second, I will acknowledge error. Too many times over too many years, Americans have chosen force before other alternatives. We have ridden rough shod over peoples from the Philippines to Vietnam, from Haiti and Dominican Republic to Panama and Columbia. I say stop. Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick is to be carried but rarely used, especially in anger. Riding up San Juan Hill is a wonderful fantasy. Blowing up the Maine or setting up Pearl Harbor had their uses in their time. We no longer need those approaches.

Third, I will acknowledge that my attention has been fully engaged now. The wake up call has me wide awake. It is my sense that there will be no follow-up acts to those of September 11th 2001. There is no need for them. We have been wounded gravely. Our security has been penetrated with ease. We are on our way to becoming our own worst enemies, clamping down harshly on ourselves in anger and frustration at our inability to slaughter our shadows.

Fourth, I now call for a meeting. I will do whatever may be necessary to set up this meeting and I want it as soon as possible, no nonsense will deflect me from this intent. I want to meet, one on one with Osama bin Laden.

The ground rules are simple. We each get to bring one other person and two interpreters each, if needed, plus two court stenographers each. There will be no published record, no video or tape recordings, other than an agreed upon transcript of the stenographer's records.

The full integrity of the United States will be used to guarantee his safety to travel to a place of his choosing so that we can meet and then to return to wherever he may want. We will make no efforts of any sort to track his location before or after we meet. I will travel to meet him with no more than ten security people and he will come to the chosen site as he will, accompanied as he feels fit. At a chosen distance, say five miles, all weapons will be surrendered. All others will stand aside. From that point, we will go to the meeting place together with only our chosen associate along with interpreters and stenographers. Maybe we will even walk. The location chosen will be equipped with only that equipment useful to the stenographers to transcribe and print out their work. There will be no communications equipment, not even the box to set off nuclear rockets which otherwise follows me everywhere. We will be naked to each other in terms of weaponry and meeting on our honor to come in peace to talk openly for once about whatever is important to us then.

Islam is a world religion totally on a par with Judaism and Christianity of the monotheistic schools. There are many varieties of Islam as there are many varieties of Judaism and Christianity. There is agreement within each religion only on the core scriptures of the religion and, even then, much source of disagreement internally and externally on interpretations of those scriptures. Equally valid for those who believe are all the other spiritual traditions to which peoples are committed every where on this planet. All are true for those who hold them true. We need to honor them as we honor the people who are guided by them. I propose to follow that guidance which, for me, comes from Christianity. Jesus Christ teaches us to turn the other cheek if struck. We are all taught to do unto others as we would be done ourselves. There are no more eyes to be taken for eyes already lost.

I have some ideas to discuss with Osama bin Laden. I want to understand his thinking and to get his responses. Osama bin Laden is a man driven by his principles. We trained him well and equipped him generously assuming that he would remain our vassal. He didn't. Scrap the assumption of vassalage, therefore.

Whether he is understood or misunderstood is a matter of perspective. My perspective is to seek him out with as open a mind as I can. I must understand what he thinks and what he represents if I am to exercise leadership at this time. I cannot take filtered opinions when the options shown mean death to any more anywhere.

It is my current understanding that many within Islam are strongly offended by presence of foreigners, any non-believers, who for any reason approach sites considered holy by Islam. I understand this feeling is similar to those who adhere to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as only one example. This is very difficult for most of us to understand. We have a very poor history or honoring sites sacred to others anywhere. We are very poor at leaving people alone. And yet protection and sanctity of sacred sites seems to be a strongly held opinion which clouds relations with Islamic peoples as a whole. These sacred sites include Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia and various other sites primarily located in the heartlands of the monotheistic religions mostly now with the territories claimed by Israel.

Israel is a primary focus of American sympathies related to its histories of persecution and pogroms culminating in the Nazi attempts to exterminate all Jews. We have invested immense treasure and have massive emotional identification with Israel. That the conflicts which plague that area between Arab and Jew, Islam and Judaism are dated back into prehistory makes little excuse for Israel to now become persecutor. We gain little by maintaining the fictions now rampant.

We must firmly ask and require Israel to join in creation of a secure Palestine. We must assure both the new Palestine and the emergent Israel that we must insist, to the point of force, if required, that they live in peace and work out their problems by other means. Israel and the United States will provide whatever we can to insure stability in the region. That stability requires provision of aid as needed to rebuild the economy and to assure the Palestinian people a meaningful life within the positive tenants of Islam.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran (Persia) and Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon plus Turkey are states created primarily in the imagined ideas of former colonial powers, Britain and France for the most part. Russia has long been an interested and involved party in that area, too. Those states are a hodge-podge of messed up historical relationships. The Kurdish peoples, as only one example, now oppressed by Turkey, Iran and Iraq, have no meaningful identity. They have only rage. We need to understand the rage. We need to work with all parties to deal positively with the divisive forces of imposed history there.

We fought a strange war over Kuwait which was once part, in the Ottoman Empire, of what is now primarily Iraq. That war was about oil and the power associated with control of oil. Saudi Arabia is considered an ally in terms of our needs for oil. Saudi Arabia, in fact, is a most repressive and authoritarian state run by one family who ruthlessly maintain their control. We turn our backs and close our eyes to the actualities of governance there. We have a strong military presence in Saudi Arabia and throughout the region centered on the Arabian Peninsula to guarantee access to oil. If added to the prices for which oil products are sold here, we would need to cover billions of dollars spent to maintain our military presence there. That Saudi Arabia is also home to Mecca and Medina creates a conundrum, a puzzle which cries for solution.

As long as our addiction to oil exists, as long as that addiction is said to require a strong military presence in the region, we risk terrorism, as we call it. Now that terrorism is brought home, we can only reduce our risks and maintain our access to oil by creating positive alternatives.

I want to talk with Osama bin Laden and through him with the so-called radical or fundamentalist sects of Islam to propose a way out for all of us. We gain nothing and lose much by demonizing these people. I want to ask the Islamic world to create a state similar to Vatican City which will have sole jurisdiction over the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. I want to talk to the Islamic, Christian and Judaic worlds to create a mutually administered state incorporating the holy sites now within the territory held by Israel.

Vatican City within Rome within Italy is a separate state fully under control and administration of the Roman Catholic Church. It is a theocracy headed by the Pope within which he is the absolute authority. The concordats governing that situation and worked out over many centuries can provide models for the creation of states incorporating the holy sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia and joint creation of a similar entity to hold the sacred sites now held by Israel. We can also extend our compassion to sacred sites anywhere and be sensitive to the pain caused by callously ignoring them out of ignorance or design.

By separating our needs to control oil resources from their needs for protection of sacred sites, we begin processes based in resolving rather than aggravating differences. Let us concentrate on smoothing the rough spots as a means to greater mutual understanding and tolerance. Islam, as has been urged upon me by honorable men and women, is a religion of love as is Christianity, as is Judaism. Let us honor our spiritual traditions in their most literal sense.

I am under no illusions that these ideas and plans will be met with universal acceptance. Powerful interests will do everything they can to frustrate these intentions. I am, however, no less determined. I will use all the powers related to this office to make this happen. Those who obstruct, however they attempt to do so, will be identified so that people world over will know them for who they are.

I will need the active help and support of all who love peace wherever they may be, whatever they believe. And I will need it now.

Thank you and good night."

Sweet dream evolving as nightmare!

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Notes and References

Preface: Bingo! Simplicity Itself; Oligarchy, by Milo Clark (Oct. 2001)


Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, comes from a classic Eastern Establishment background culminated by a Harvard MBA. Perversely, however, he learned to think. Applying thought, he sees beyond and tries to write about what he sees. He now lives in the rainforest of non-tourist Hawaii near the lava flows.

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