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It takes two to tango

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
October 3, 2001


After much consideration, and wrestling with a few ethical demons, coming to terms with the chaos that erupted on September 11, 2001, was a process requiring emotional fortitude and intellectual resolve. Horrific fascination soon became thoughts of loss, concern for community, sadness, and finally apprehension about what comes next. With all the talk about America's "New" war, there is little talk of peace. I guess conflict and violence just make for better ratings.

Witnessing more death and destruction televised live, is something we should be prepared for. Promised a "sustained effort over a good period of the time," by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Bush Administration continues its single minded preparation for a war we know little about, other than it will be difficult, costly, and deadly. If it is justice being sought for those who died, doesn't that require honesty regarding past foreign policy and future intent?

It seems to me that meeting violence with violence is exactly what the 19 hijackers had in mind when they commandeered the jetliners. If the goal was to jump start regional conflicts in the Middle East, America's response not only justifies their crimes against humanity, but prompts even more violence. Already the news media is discussing possible biological strikes against Americans. Much to the world's detriment, voices of restraint have been eliminated, to make room for retired generals who will provide viewers with a running commentary on the war games being played.

In the mainstream media little is being said about America's role in driving people to such levels of violence. Who actually believes the men responsible woke up one morning, completely unprovoked, and decided to kill 7000 strangers? What could be so wrong as to prompt these individuals into wanting a third world war, let alone unleash one. Could it be that America is just a willing pawn in the ongoing struggle for control of the Middle East? More ominous yet is the consideration that all of this is about keeping the region politically unstable to protect American oil interests.

A healthy democracy requires a healthy dialogue. Sadly, the Bush Administration, and many in the national media, confuse censorship with patriotism. It's obvious to most of us this is more than a religious tirade on the part of some Islamic cult. Dating back to America's first response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, our involvement in the region has now made us a target. Why is it treason to want to know the details? Justice can not be achieved in a state of denial or selective memory.

At the beginning of World War I, California Senator Hiram Johnson remarked, "The first casualty of war is the truth." As we begin the first war of the 21st century one can't help but think that it is lies of omission fueling the fires of revenge and retribution. Without a clear understanding of what brings us to the brink of a global conflict, it will be impossible to prevent further man made catastrophes. The starvation of millions of Afghans is as violent as any other act of war, and just as wrong.

To end the escalation of aggression, an honest assessment of America's agenda for the Middle East must be clearly stated. We need, answers not more reasons to wave the flag. National pride is only a good thing when it is not maintained through national ignorance.

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