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For 68 years, ever since Pearl Harbor, Americans have dealt with fear – fear of Germany, communism and more recently al Qaeda. Today neither the President, the opposition party, nor those on the street are mentioning security issues. Why the sudden lack of fear? People on the street rather than entrenched experts once worried about China threatening a financial meltdown in order to get its way in the world, and before illegal Hispanics began going home because they suddenly couldn’t find work, some usually unpolitical Americans theorized about a conspiracy to take over US culture. So the lack of fear now spread from the top down and the bottom up is something almost none of us ever experienced.
Gary Hart, who was once a Presidential candidate, crisscrossed the country before 9/11 warning that large planes filled with fuel were potential bombs, but countries, not small groups were on people’s personal radar. Before Pearl Harbor, Japan warned that unless the then ongoing peace negotiations to end the economic boycott of Japan was successful there would be war, yet somehow fear wasn’t in the air. Historians skip over this to dwell on other points. It’s in the now declassified British archives that Britain failed to tell the US that Japan was preparing a Four-Island attack instead of what US officials thought, attacking the Philippines or Guam. The achieves clearly indicates that the British were worried that if they told the US, the US might declare war only on Japan instead of being upset enough to declare war also on Germany. Roosevelt could have risked Japan figuring out that their secret code was broken by informing commanders in the Pacific that the war was starting, but that would not have necessarily meant that the troops at slightly out of the way Pearl Harbor would have been alertly scanning the skies for an attack that first morning of the war.
Today there is no less reason for a relaxed attitude then there was back then. Both al Qaeda and the Bush Administration had claimed that Iraq was the central part of what they both referred to as a “War Between Civilizations.” Al Qaeda preferring to fight in Iraq rather than Pakistan and Bush much preferring as he said “over there rather than over here.” Had al Qaeda attacked the US again, Pakistan could have ended up being occupied by US troops.
Obama’s claims of a gentler America makes al Qaeda worry that they will again be isolated, like they were before 9/11 when the entire Muslim world was disgusted by Taliban extremism such as banning all music. Al Qaeda has hurled intense oral insults against Obama’s claims that there is now a kinder more gentle America and has quickly responded to Obama starting to make changes. When Obama announced that Guantanamo would be closed, al Qaeda quickly sent out an internet tape announcing that al-Badawi, who was involved in the bombing of the US ship the Cole under Clinton, was appointed second command in Yemen making US hawks scream that Guantanamo is needed to house people like al Badawi, and both Saudi Arabia and Israel claimed evidence of other released terrorists who had returned to terrorist organizations, hoping that the US would continue in the Middle East mode of dealing with terror groups instead of Obama adopting the European model. Several of the alleged former terror detainees they were referring to turned out to be dead. PS: Despite (if not because of more competence from relining on less harsh methods of interrogation), no al Qaeda prisoners managed to escape in Europe like one did in US detention in Afghanistan, and several did in Arab lands.
Al Badawi, by the way, was released to Yemen to serve out a death sentence, not as an act of civility or mercy, but he escaped. Only later did Yemen have an amnesty program somewhat similar to the South African Truth Commission. Terrorists would confess that bin Laden’s interpretation of the Koran was wrong and agree to be more peaceful, and released. Al Badawi turned himself in to be released after confessing. It had split al Qaeda in half, and there had been no terror attacks in Yemen since. Claiming al Badawi is second in command allows for the future opportunity to claim Yemen broke the amnesty ceasefire first, besides the opportunity to rile the United States.
Somehow we don’t note in the US that al Qaeda wants the US to use torture for its recruiting purposes despite Nick Burg being beheaded, during then Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist’s call for detention reform. When Abu Ghrab hit the news, there were additional more gross photos that Congress privately viewed. During Bill Frist’s press conference reporting on what Congress saw, a news bulletin on al Qaeda posting Nick Burg’s being beheaded knocked Frist’s report off the air.
Several terror experts were very worried about a massive al Qaeda terror attack during the transition period between Presidents. James Lewis, a security expert with the Centre of Strategic and International Studies expressed fear that al Qaeda would attack after Obama began serving as President to make Obama look bad.
To back up a moment if Obama lashed out at the frequent al Qaeda insults against him, and warned of an immanent terror attack, just doing so, might make it more likely to happen. But keeping quiet means people will lash out against Obama for at least not warning us. Something al Qaeda would want.
A link to James Lewis’s warning in the London Times then other background reference follows,
http://www.phillyimc.org/en/obama-be-truly-peace-president-al-qaeda-would-have-give-its-dreams-future http://capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/14654 http://www.phillyimc.org/en/taxonomy/term/3210
We shouldn’t keep quiet about the fact that Obama is threatening the bin Laden wing of al Qaeda’s dreams of a permanent Muslim warring class, and dreams of the possibility of Islam, due to war, again becoming a united nation similar to before Prophet Mohammed’s death. If Obama makes breakthroughs with some Muslims it will only increase al Qaeda’s fear of being isolated, such as before 9/11 when Muslims en-mass were disgusted with Taliban extremism. Living the next four years with hope under Obama and at the same time ignoring the fact that al Qaeda, and some other groups have their livelihoods and way of life threatened by peace won’t work. People can be afraid of losing their job, or their government contracts, or even US foreign aid which they partially depend on. Not noting that some fear peace (in my mind) very severely limits the reason for hope.
In Northern Ireland, just before peace broke out, both Protestants and Catholics became very worried that militants on their side would sponsor a terror attack to disrupt the peace process. This fear that fellow Catholics or Protestants might get angry at them, not the enemy, if there was a terror attack during peace negotiations allowed peace to occur. This unlike between India and Pakistan when peace negotiations looked promising, extremists managed to disrupt them. When a peace train was set up to allow long separated relatives to finally be able to visit each other, the first train heading out of India to Pakistan was attacked and a lot of passengers killed. And more recently an attack in India on tourist hotels etc, when the peace process looked like it was going to go further.
There is a common theory that when one side shows weakness the other side attacks. What is actually more likely to be happening is that when one side takes steps toward peace, militants on both sides fear that their livelihood and prestige are about to end, then take steps to preserve their way of life.
Bin Laden likes economic targets. The world trade center was supposedly the center hub for US business. Destroying it caused far less economic damage than bin Laden expected. The doctor’s plot critically warned by a cryptic al Qaeda message, “Those who heal you will kill you” (had it succeeded) would have stopped England and the US from allowing professionals such as doctors to get visas to stay and work. Earlier German business interests were crying because particularly foreign computer professionals weren’t allowed to work in Germany, putting German business at a disadvantage. Sending super skilled engineers home could disrupt our economy. Al Qaeda knows that if the US keeps spending a fortune on drone aircraft to prevent a pilot from being killed and other incredibly expensive smart weapons, US bankruptcy would eventually result, and hopefully from bin Laden’s point of view, a total collapse of the monetary banking system. A dark ages with incredible starvation and crime such as the one following the collapse of Ancient Rome, in bin Laden’s eyes would be the sweetest victory he could imagine. It doesn’t matter if the bin Laden wing is deluded in its belief that it is winning, only that it knew it was losing right before 9/11 and again fears losing the hearts and minds of the Muslims who today lukewarmly supports al Qaeda, if Obama makes peace breakthroughs.
Most al Qaeda actions and statements seem to involve careful planning. I wonder whether the sloppy attack in Kenya where an Israeli plane was fired on by an old non heat-seeking missile, and three Israeli tourists were killed was actually al Qaeda. I also wonder whether the attack on the former Prime Minister of Lebanon was actually al Qaeda rather than sponsored by Syria, which most people blame. The truck in that truck bombing had been stolen in Japan a year earlier, then shipped to Lebanon, where its serial number couldn’t lead in the direction of the purchaser. Too complicated for a simple assassination, www.consortiumnews.com/2006/022206.html
New Yorker magazine reported that Madrid backpack bombing that changed the election in Spain actually being planned for two and a half years. It is an important sobering article to read,
Right before the Iraq war started there was a huge peace demonstration in England. I and a friend were watching it live of TV. It was suddenly cut off the air by a news bulletin of a terror attack in Turkey with live gruesome coverage. When the peace demonstration returned to the screen it didn’t seem exciting any more. My friend’s gut reaction was “Why don’t they protest that” as if the protests somehow knew of the attack in Turkey. In Afghanistan election workers disappearing in the middle of the night, considerable cut down on number of Afghans who were willing to risk voting. But in Iraq, bin Laden publicly on the Internet demanded that Iraqi’s not vote. The vote was huge and most people said bin Laden lost, but the peace protesters then claims that the war in Iraq has nothing to due with fighting terrorism, lost considerable momentum. Bin Laden clearly wants the war to be fought almost anywhere but Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Iran at one point expressed anger at al Qaeda secretly baiting Iran and the US to fight with each other, maybe others should note that al Qaeda makes people fear each other – in the US even fear Hispanics who may look like Muslims. Subconsciously Americans get angrier about illegal Hispanic immigrants thanks to bin Laden’s macabre lobbying efforts toward a single Muslim nation united by war.
I take the concept of resisting al Qaeda broadly such as the interfaith peace concerts and seminars organized by the Daniel Pearl Foundation. He was a Wall Street Journal correspondent that was lured to Pakistan, forced to state his captive’s version of a Jewish conspiracy then beheaded,
Also, Spanish Muslim clerics on the anniversary of the Madrid commuter train bombing who called al Qaeda a traitor to Islam,
A former al Qaeda leader “Dr Fadl” has some extremely effective criticism of al Qaeda. Quoting him is one way to successfully fight al Qaeda,
A Muslim educator in Canada who urged his Muslim constituents to get as upset if their children were playing around with militancy as they would be if they were playing around with drugs and alcohol. Queen Noor of Jordan organized such massive anti-al Qaeda demonstrations after the attack on a wedding party that al Qaeda agreed to leave Jordan alone. One thing that bothers me if that groups that are effect in combating al Qaeda’s recruiting practices, like the Daniel Pearl Foundation, shun the mind set of being called an anti-terror organization, while those who focus on far less dangerous groups like Hamas call themselves anti-terror organizations and lecture everyone else on how to combat terror.
I am very happy that Obama has the background to take the al Qaeda danger seriously, and not confuse al Qaeda with non-suicide oriented revolutionary groups. But I think slipping into a war with Pakistan by sending drone missiles is a mistake. Churchill, during World War II, promised blood, sweet, and tears. Obama should, I think, let Pakistan know that we are coming into Pakistan to get al Qaeda, letting the American people know that al Qaeda may have terrorist sleeper-cells posed for the occasion. And not have the next 9/11 experience catch the public by surprise. If someone like Tom Fox, a Quaker activist, who went to Iraq to declare peace and got beheaded instead, wants to go to Pakistan and try to negotiate a truce with al Qaeda they I think should be given a chance. I have a creative idea that perhaps Obama or allied group including the US should only demand before coming into Pakistan that al Qaeda agree to Prophet Mohammad’s call to avoid killing the innocent, and also no children and women combatants. Remember Joan of arc was a Christian with no traditional similar Muslim precedents. Perhaps if the bin Laden wing doesn’t agree others would actually turn in their exact whereabouts for attack or capture to be tried by a Muslim group perhaps headed by Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately considering the way Yemen at first succeeded to dividing al Qaeda in half, if one corners the bin Laden wing just a little, they may be able to regain momentum later.
Perhaps I am exaggerating the danger, but spending the next four years pretending the al Qaeda danger has passed makes little sense. Everyone, whether or not you agree with my slant, get moving on trying to create the kind of change you want. Don’t just sit around and cheer Obama.
02-25-09 Update. Dr. Fadl, a former al Qaeda leader’s stong criticism of al Qadea was added on this date, Al Qada is far more dangerous since no one considers its their job to spread his comments all over the world and in articles and newspapers ads as well,
02-18-09: Update Link Follows,
“From a Pakistan Valley, Taliban Threats are Heard in New York”.
There also was an OpedNews story, that for some reason was removed from the Internet, from Pakistan where a school where about 1/10 of the purples were children of people working for US contractors such as cleaning crews were attacked. The al Qaeda can’t be dealt successfully until it is realized that within its sick ideology it is heading the world in the direction it wants. If Obama’s dreams for the future at all succeed it with totally negate the bin Laden wing of al Qaeda’s dreams. [(Update over)]
To risk changing the subject: Does anyone remember Malcolm X’s love-hate relationship with Martin Luther King? Malcolm X constantly made militant demands, but didn’t condemn King, unlike several other militants, claiming he was giving King the space to appear moderate, that by constantly pushing militancy he gave King the space to appear to be a healer. Maybe the problem today is not that Obama isn’t King-like enough, but that there are today no Malcolm X types angerly demanding and screaming and for their favorite cause. Perhaps Obama would actually appreciate it is they were doing so.
This essay won’t end people letting Obama try to make the changes that in the past they attempted for themselves but it will be a start. As I said near the beginning of this essay if the Obama administration was constantly answering al Qaeda’s insults and was warning of a terror attack, it might help escalate toward it actually happening, but outsiders like me doing it instead might be what is desperately needed.
Richard’s mother took part in sit-ins to integrate Woolworth’s 5 & 10, lunch counter, in Washington DC and in challenging her church, and his father had trouble explaining how someone Jewish could be a pacifist against Hitler. Richard remembers back when being for peace made others consider one to be an isolationist right-winger. Slightly like going around in a circle, being for peace is again tending to make others consider one as tending toward, if not isolationism, conservative libertarian rather than radical left.
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