Archive for July, 2014

“Patriot Day”

Let’s agree up front that what I’m about to say will piss people off. I am aware of that, and frankly, we should be pissed off. This is not an anti-government rant. This is not an anti-military rant. This is an anti-stupid rant. Our heads are pretty firmly stuck in the sand and we don’t seem to care. I admit that I avoid the news. I don’t want to hear about all the crap going on. It’s ugly. However, I’m not so naive as to believe that what our leaders tell us, what our media tells us, is the truth. It’s bits and pieces of the truth, but it’s not all of it. It can’t be all of it. Not if our leaders and our media want to remain in their comfy seats of power.

September 11, Patriot Day. Never Forget.

Get over it.

How many people died that day? 2,996. According to Wikipedia, 19 were hijackers and 372 were foreign nationals. That leaves us with 2,605 Americans dead. Not an insignificant number. However, the casualty count for the subsequent Iraq War varies somewhere between just over 100,000 to over 1,000,000. Between 2003 and 2012 precisely 4,486 of our soldiers were killed. That means that whichever estimate is correct leaves a whole lot of dead locals. War being what it is- particularly when the attackers aren’t real careful (that’s us)- most of those dead locals are civilians. We lost 2,605 civilians plus 4,486 soldiers. We don’t know how many they’ve lost, but it was many multiples of that. The casualties from Afghanistan are a little harder to crunch. Totally justified, right? Right.

What I’m not sure how to find the numbers for is the casualties for the preceding wars, military actions, police actions, and business deals that we were involved in. How many of them did we have to kill before they got mad enough at us to strike back?

We had a speaker at church one day. She traveled the world to help the underprivileged. The places she preferred were the ones where hardship was a matter of course, not a matter for the insignificant poor. I’m afraid I don’t remember whether she was in Afghanistan or Iraq, but I think that ends up being immaterial to the story. She was sitting with some children watching them draw pictures. One little boy was drawing a plane crashing into the Twin Towers. Naturally, she had to ask why he was drawing that.

“It was the will of Allah.”

She was horrified. This was a child! But, being a citizen of the world, she knew she needed to ask why before she jumped to any conclusions.

“Allah wanted them to feel what we feel.”

Sit with that for a moment. Take your time.

What if the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the attempt at the White House weren’t cold-blooded terrorist attacks because we have tvs and HBO? What if the attacks were from people that have been attacked by us for so long that they don’t have anything to lose? What if they were from people that didn’t have any other way of telling us to butt the hell out? What if the attacks were the only way to get the attention of the American people?

If you have the time, take a gander at The War on Democracy. It only covers about 50 years, and it only covers South America, but it’s a disturbing enough collection of American interference. Take particular note of the former CIA agent who believes that some casualties are just a cost of doing business. Hugo Chavez is really only remarkable because we didn’t manage to keep him out of power.

The US admits to having over 700 military bases world-wide. It also freely admits that’s not a full disclosure, as some are too sensitive to name. One of my favorites is Diego Garcia. We uprooted the entire population and booted them because we wanted the island for our own use. They now live in poverty on foreign soil. Yay us?

We have no foreign military bases on our own soil. (I have since been told that we do have military personnel from other countries in ours, but since I had to be told that by someone in the military, I’m not sure they count. Let me know when they’re flying their own flags on our soil.)

I have immense respect for the men and women that are in the military. It’s not a job I could do. The only thing I have to say about them is that they don’t get supported overseas, and they frequently don’t get supported at home. That’s bad and needs to improve. My real beef, though, is how they’re used. We are not the World Police. We are not Big Brother. What we are is one country out of many that make up our world. I think that we’ve interfered in enough places that small, judicious uses of our strength might be necessary to set the country back on track, but they should be small, judicious, and temporary. Eleven years (Iraq) is not temporary or small.

Benjamin Franklin told us that we had a republic- if we could keep it.

Thomas Jefferson told us that no man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.

Samuel Adams told us that a standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the liberties of the people. Such power should be watched with a jealous eye.

You know what? I take it back. We do need to remember September 11. We need to remember what we did to cause it, what we’re doing to encourage another, and what needs to happen so that no country needs to resort to that to get our attention. We need to remember that it is our job to keep an eye on our government.

We need to remember that anything they do in our name reflects on all of us. Let’s start making that reflection a good one.