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This is probably the umpteenth article about how to handle the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, but it comes with my own experiences and perspectives on the matter. My apologies, but I do hope it does bring something new to the discussion.
The rumors about bin Laden’s death came to my attention while I was (perhaps ironically) watching The Killing yesterday. Prior to that, there were some rumbles in the Twittersphere of an impending, and seemingly impromptu address by the President set for later that night. My first instinct was that it was likely about the NATO operation in Libya, the only current event that would likely merit an announcement like that. Yet the bin Laden tweets started to gather steam, and news organizations too began to disseminate details of a recent operation in Pakistan that had ended with the death of bin Laden.
I was floored.
I was still in high school when the towers fell. I believed, perhaps naively at the time, that bin Laden would be captured within months of the mission in Afghanistan. However, the video and audio taunts and proclamations from bin Laden continued unabated for months, then years, as our collective attention began to shift elsewhere. The inability of the Bush administration to capture bin Laden slowly drifted into the realm of comedic fodder, where it comfortably remained. It was something out of a Benny Hill sketch: ludicrous and protracted. Even though we all wanted to see bin Laden brought to justice, the sheer length of time that passed–combined with our collective lack of an attention span–relegated bin Laden to the back burner.
Within minutes of the news breaking on Twitter, crowds swelled in front of the White House and at Ground Zero in New York City, everyone united in celebration and patriotism, cheering the death of another human being. Yes, this human being was, by all accounts, sub-human in his ruthlessness and willingness to take thousands of human lives and indoctrinate so many people into his odious and loathsome school of thought. His ideology was the product of so many life experiences: the mentorship of the Ayman Al-Zawahiri (who ascribes to the Wahhabi sect of Islam), the anger against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and, later, the American presence in the Middle East, and a sense of personal duty to right these supposed wrongs.
In a way, there is now a similar emotional climate to the period just following 9/11. At that time, people were rallying in solidarity and in unity against a common enemy: terrorism. Today, they are rallying in solidarity and in unity in seeming celebration of the death of the man who epitomized terrorism, and was responsible for the massacre of innocent lives on 9/11.
Part of me wanted to give in to the celebratory mood that had been generated in the wake of his death, but part of me recoiled in horror at the idea of celebrating the death of another human being, no matter how evil and deluded he may have been. I remembered how news outlets had streamed coverage of the jubilant reaction in parts of the Middle East at the news of the World Trade Center towers being brought down. I remember the collective rage many had felt at seeing others take joy in our devastation and loss. The unrelenting campaign in Afghanistan followed quickly after. Now the tables have been turned, and surely coverage of our celebration is being beamed abroad. While there are certainly many who will also find relief in bin Laden’s death, there are others who will be enraged.
It is important to remember that bin Laden’s death does not mean the death of Al Qaeda, or of terrorism as a whole. Zawahiri, it would seem, is still very much alive, as are hundreds, if not thousands of militants who fall under the umbrella of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or other similar groups. While I applaud the successful efforts of Obama to finally bring down bin Laden, for him to say the world is safer is an absolutely short-sighted conclusion. I’d argue that it’s probably, at best, no more safe than it was before bin Laden was killed. Yet more likely than not, it is probably far less safe, as acts of retribution are of far greater concern. This means the wars will likely continue, and the security measures will continue to be stringent here, and abroad.
“Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.” This is a verse from the Bhagavad Gita that rings true in many contexts, no less
in describing the psyche of bin Laden and others who promote terrorism. Islam is still regarded as the enemy by many, but it is delusion that is the true enemy. Bin Laden’s popularity remains strong because he was viewed as a religious man who fought in the name of Islam, in Afghanistan, and in other regions. The truth is that he likely only saw combat once in Afghanistan. The falsehoods and half-truths surrounding bin Laden’s life must be dismantled, to stop the perpetuation of the delusion that continues to fuel terrorist acts globally.
On the flip side, America–now perhaps more than ever–must do more to rid itself of lingering Islamophobia, also the function of misguided anger and delusion. We must do more to embrace Muslims, and frankly all peoples, who seek shelter within our shores. Tensions are very high now, and there must be more effort to truly reach out to the Islamic world, to undo the misconceptions sown by bin Laden and his ilk, and to foster cooperation in achieving common goals.
How can terrorism thrive in an environment where knowledge, friendship, and respect thrive? It can’t.
This should be our ultimate goal.
Almost ten years ago, I watched the towers fall. I watched my idyllic vision of the world crumble amidst the rubble and twisted metal frame.
Almost ten years after the Twin Towers fell, Osama Bin Laden has finally been killed. At the time that I’m writing this, details are few and far between. What is true is that many are finding solace in his death, and I do hope it will provide some closure to those who were directly and indirectly affected by Al Qaeda. However, his death will likely not mean the end of anything, certainly not the end of the war on terrorism. Al Qaeda is still very much alive, and we must stay vigilant.
Here is the latest gem being attributed to him:
I can’t say I’m surprised, the man really has no qualms about going after the gravely ill. Especially not after seeing this little clip (couldn’t find the clip of Rush alone, but this will do):
You would think that the man has some sort of a system in place to keep him from talking when what he’s about to say comes across as insensitive or just plain stupid. Sadly, that’s not the case. News flash Rush: cancer (regardless of what kind) and Parkinson’s disease are both devastating illnesses with no cure, and few treatment options. Here’s to hoping that Rush Limbaugh recovers his sense of propriety and compassion, since they’ve clearly been eaten away long ago.
Not all Republicans of course, just the ones that are way right of center and way off their rockers (Rush Limbaugh et. al.). I’m completely baffled that there are some in their party that would practically salivate at the thought of Obama’s policies failing.
Hal Sparks, a comedian, was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show today, and I think he put it best and I will paraphrase as best as I can. It is as though the Republicans want to see the fall of Obama, who they see as this messianic figure at the helm of the liberalism movement. It clearly summarized what I think is running through their heads. It’s unbelievable. I know I disagreed with Bush on almost everything, but I always hoped that somehow, by some miracle, one of those policies would work out.
They want to see the one hope the country has to fumble and fail, they want to see the policies that have an infinitely better shot than anything the conservative base has been able to offer up die before it does any real good. It’s not as though they have had any groundbreaking ideas over the last eight years, instead they drove the country right into the ground. It’s not as though they have come up with anything new and potentially useful now, just the same old nonsense they have peddled for so long. Still, they worship at the altar of Reagonomics and the trickle down theory, which had left the rich richer and the poor poorer, before everything went to hell in a handbasket and everyone was in the same boat: poor or well on their way there.
The Republican Party, besides being the party of “no” has now become the party of “ego.” Their egos are so hurt by the fact that the country has abandoned them more quickly than they can say “tax cut” that they are hoping for the failure of this new administration and a quick reinstating of the old ways at the potential cost of a whole nation’s chance at picking itself up out of the rut that the conservatives themselves had dug. Many conservative lawmakers are refusing, or are poised to refuse, the stimulus money even if they desperately need it. This means you, Bobby Jindal, governor of a Louisiana that is still hurting and hasn’t been helped enough to this day…and Katrina was almost four years ago. This is petulance at its purest, and would be a wholly irresponsible move.
Please, to all you all who are hoping for Obama’s failure, get your collective head out of your (insert synonym for derriere here). This isn’t about liberalism supposedly trouncing conservatism. This isn’t about which party is in control, and how to oust the current party in control. This is about helping a country that is hurtling towards economic and social ruin if something isn’t done fast. If you made a mistake (or mistakes as the case may be), ‘fess up and let someone try their strategy. Don’t assume the same, failed strategies will work if you just keep pushing at it for long enough. If you can’t break down a brick wall with a toothpick, admit it, and find someone who has a jackhammer. The goal is still achieved. That’s really all that matters.
I would have written more, but I have a presentation tomorrow. Translating politics and journal articles about calcitonin at the same time is much easier said than done.
Bobby Jindal sounded fake, and he sounded sing-songy, each word infused with a sickening saccharine quality. He kind of sounded like Bobby Brady with his child-like cadence, and equally childish solutions. Rehashing the same failed policies as somehow new and full of potential doesn’t work Bobby.The man cited Katrina as some sort of shining example towards which our country should work. He was calling out the current administration for increasing spending, though the Bush administration was the one churning out all those pieces of legislation vastly increasing spending.
The man clearly is intelligent, having gotten a Rhodes Scholarship, and accepted to both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School. So how could he be so incredibly naive? I don’t see him as being a likely flag-bearer of the Republican Party in 2012 (more likely pallbearer but perhaps I speak too soon).
What about Obama’s speech? Is there really anything I need to say? He was concise, clear, and *gasp* eloquent. Oh how I’ve missed that after eight years of gibberish and nonsense, the resulting applause not so much because of the policies Dubya proposed but probably more because he was able to string together a few coherent sentences that resembled English. Obama’s propositions seem reasonable, not all rainbows and sunshine. He understands the challenges ahead, and has presented reasonable policies to remedy our ills. I think we’ll pull through all right.
To quote the student he recognized for her heartfelt letter to Congress asking for help for her school, “we are not quitters.”
I spent most of my formative years in the nurturing cocoon of the Clinton administration. I was vaguely aware of Bush 41, but the first president I chose (in my head) was Clinton, so he was really my president. I didn’t really know what war was. I had heard of the first Gulf War, but it seemed less a war, more a way to keep a madman at bay. I knew something of Bosnia and Serbia, but these were minor engagements (especially compared to what we’re involved in now). All I was aware of was economic excess and of prosperity. I assumed that everything always came easily, not necessarily without work, but without worry. I realize now that I was wrong to assume. This is not to say Bush 43 is entirely at fault, or that Clinton is blameless. There were mistakes being made everywhere, on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street, in banks, and in our own living rooms. Now the fruits have been borne from our mindless sins of ignorance.
I was talking to a sixth grader I tutor yesterday and we ended up discussing various things. At one point, she asked me about medicine and how long it takes to become a doctor. I laughed and went through the whole spiel. I told her that if she doesn’t take any breaks in between, she’ll probably be in her late twenties by the time she starts working. It was the truth; the road to becoming a doctor is a long, winding, pothole-ridden road. She sighed before declaring the world was probably going to end before then. I was taken a little aback by her pointedly frank pessimism, especially given her age. Pessimism wasn’t supposed to kick in until at least the angst-ridden teen years. Yet as I thought about it more, I realized she was right to assume, and right to worry. We have become conditioned to fear.
I’m not saying the world is going to end. Obviously that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that the smooth sailing we have had for the last decade or so has come to an end in the most unceremonious and clumsy fashion possible. Gone are the times when wide-eyed, college graduates can expect a job waiting for them within months after their graduation, followed by buying their first home, setting up their children’s trust fund, and letting their 401(k)s bloat with money. Employers no longer are waiting at the end of the college road with open arms and a fat paycheck. Instead we are seeing college grads moving back with their parents, as they wait and wait for employers to come calling. Over 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, and the number continues to grow. As the economy shrinks, states are now cutting spending in places that could have drastic consequences (like Paterson cutting hospital spending in New York State in a time where healthcare is suffering). Again I used to assume that doctors were at least a little immune to economic crises; after all, there’s always a need for doctors right? Yet when hospitals can’t afford to take on new doctors, and when people can’t afford to get healthcare, even doctors are finding it difficult to find work. There is no real certainty in the current economic climate, and the possible ramifications are frightening.
As I was buying my ticket to Penn Station from my home station, I saw a man who asked me for a buck or two towards a train ticket. This wasn’t your typical bum though, and this wasn’t the city. This was Long Island. He looked like any other Joe Schmo who lived on Long Island. Maybe I’m naive to have even entertained the idea that Long Island was somehow, immune, from the economic downturn. I can’t help but think that the number of people booted onto the streets will increase as the economy continues to sink.
Many of you must be reading this and thinking, “She is such a pessimist” and “This is so depressing.” It’s the truth. No one wants to envision a world where we have to be fearful for our livelihood as well as for our lives. Certainly we don’t want that for ourselves, and we definitely don’t want that for our children. We want our children to know that they can do anything they want, with little worry, assuming they put in the effort. Yet it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. To continue assuming that everything is perfectly peachy is a sign of sure insanity.
Yet to those that say, “Why bother doing anything if we’re just destined for a rough road to employment in the end?” the point is not to give up, the point is to work harder. Employers (presumably) will favor the more qualified candidates over the guy or girl who just scraped through with a bachelors degree. Go for the unpaid internships to get your foot in the door. Network as much as you can, a resume and transcript can only tell so much about a person. Do whatever you can, short of stepping on another guy’s toes.
We’ll have to make some changes to the way we conduct our lives now. We can’t continue the same wasteful practices that landed us here in the first place. We can’t allow the market to operate of its own volition. We need strict regulations to rein everything back to some sort of stable state. It’s important to note that all situations are temporary, good times, and bad. I’m just hoping that, for the time being, the stimulus plan passed by Congress will have its intended effect sooner rather than later.
Until then, we have to work hard and stay positive. This, too, shall pass.
The man is boycotting his own impeachment trial, claiming that this is all some sort of conspiracy on the part of other Illinois politicians to drive up property taxes up to 66%. Yes, Illinois has had a reputation for dirty politics, but this verges on delusional and nonsensical. Blagojevich also stands by his claims that he is innocent of the charges against him, namely that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, and yet he claims innocence.
Let’s consider an equally ludicrous scenario:
This is like the child who claims he did not sell his mother’s gold earrings for pocket change, even though his mother saw him take the earrings, and the child’s pockets are now bursting at the seams with money. When his parents give him a time-out, the child protests, saying he is the real victim, and citing that trying to remove him is a violation of current childcare protocol and is part of a scheme for something far more nefarious (and wholly unrelated). He also chooses to sit out his time-out as part of the protest.
Seriously this child needs a spanking.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated every year in the United States to commemorate the life and achievements of a man who managed to do so much in a life that was cut tragically short. He was a follower of Gandhi’s nonviolent approach and the use of civil disobedience as a powerful tool for change. Violence, to him, was never an answer to even the most dire problems. Indeed his steadfast devotion to peace earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, something that he accepted graciously, but never let define him. He was still the reverend from Georgia who sought to uplift those who were downtrodden.
We live in a time where violence has become the norm, where nonviolence–though idealized and uplifted in theory–is not seriously employed as a reasonable solution. We are engaged in two unpopular wars without a discernible end, and are mired in troubles that are progressively eating away at our resolve. Probably now, more than ever, we need the Rev. King to lead us from darkness to light. We may not have the man, but we have his legacy, his ideas, and his dream.
When obstacles rose in his path for racial equality for everyone, King found ways around them, and managed to achieve what he set out to do. When violent, fringe movements rose out of the civil rights movement, King distanced himself from them, sticking to his nonviolent path. When the Vietnam War broke out, King withheld support when to do so was considered unpatriotic. Indeed he wasn’t afraid to push through the opposition to stand up for what he believed in, and ultimately to stand up for what was right.
His dream finds applications even in today’s tough times. Today, Iraq and Afghanistan are still reeling from the violence of protests, of suicide bombers, and of war in general. Today, our social programs are languishing. Rev. King would have never supported our actions now, how we’ve put all our eggs into the proverbial military basket. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,” he once said. If that is the case, we are undoubtedly standing at death’s door.
As a new president prepares to take the reins of a nation in shambles, I wonder what our next course of action will be. “[Man] is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.” In the face of unspeakable violence–some exacted by us–as well as a lagging economy, we could meet it with violence and greed, i.e. more of the same. Or we could take a leaf out of Dr. King’s book and try to meet the challenges of the new administration with intelligence, with magnanimity, and with compassion.
We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.
Dr. King’s dream must find new purpose in a world that, while somewhat improved from the one Dr. King experienced, still has many problems to overcome.
I am not professing to know all the little nuances about the situation in Afghanistan, but this is what I’ve been able to conclude overall:
Barack Obama had mentioned during the campaign that attention would be turned towards Afghanistan, which in his eyes, represents the greater threat compared to Iraq. While I am tempted to agree with him, I can only hope he doesn’t mean an all-out war. It looks that way, though, since there is a plan in place to double the number of troops in the area.
War is probably the worst idea for the area now.
Here’s how I see it:
Afghanistan is starting to see a resurgence in the strength and size of the Taliban. The Taliban has started to encroach on Pakistani regions that lie close to the Afghani border, and have experienced little to no resistance from the government. Pakistan, itself, is a powder keg waiting to explode. Not only is Afghanistan slowly being eaten inside-out by newly-resurrected Taliban forces on its western border, India has increased the deployment of troops to Pakistan’s eastern border in light of the horrific attacks on Mumbai. Couple that with the fact that the government reeks of impotence and corruption, it is a disaster waiting to happen. War will just hasten the pace at which the fuse burns, if not blow up the powder keg outright.
So what should the plan be?
Pakistan, I think, has neglected the Afghani border in favor of keeping troops stationed near the LOC, as well as further south along its border with India. Given India’s accusations of Pakistan’s involvement with the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, war on that front is still highly likely. Ultimately (as far as I see it) this mostly stems from continued struggle for control over the region of Kashmir. Barack Obama’s original suggestion to somehow, solve that problem in order to reduce the need for troops being deployed to that front is smart in theory, but cumbersome to implement. India will not part with Kashmir, and Pakistan will not go away empty-handed. Nonetheless, there need to be steps taken diplomatically, to bring some sort of peace to the area. This battle has gone on for too long.
There is no easy way to explain the rise of the Taliban. It seems to be a combination of the Afghani government’s inability to protect itself effectively in conjunction with steadily-brewing anti-American sentiment, owing to its continued campaigns in the region. More troops will probably not help solve the latter. We must be seen as peace brokers, not war mongers.
Ultimately if we are to exert any further influence in the area, it should be more in a consulting and humanitarian capacity. Yet it shouldn’t be about designing a pure democracy, but about designing a government that best serves the needs of the people. This includes not stacking up the upper echelons of government with known drug lords and saying the opium production problem will be addressed. That should have been enough of a sign that there are major issues that needed to be addressed with regard to the current government.
Opium production continues to remain astonishingly high, with its largest crop (8,200 tons) being produced in 2007 (according to the Washington Times). The Taliban presence and resilience has been closely linked to the drug lords associated with the rich opium trade out of Afghanistan. Finding an effective way to end the opium trade will cut a major artery that serves the Taliban’s growth.
The Afghani people are still hurting, and there are still many thousands of refugees who need shelter, food, and healthcare. We need to be able to show the Afghanis, and the world as a whole, that we use our status to help others in need, not to encroach on other nations’ territories and meddle in other nations’ issues. Maybe once we do that, there won’t be as pressing a need to raise generations of people to hate us. We need to shed the cowboy mentality that has dictated the last eight years of foreign policy.
So imagine starting another war in an area that is still recovering from the last one, and borders a nation that is itself, in a virtual spiral downward.
We can’t afford a war in that part of the world. It would be a disaster. Let’s throw aside our weapons and try diplomacy for once.
Here is the link to a site compiling posts from bloggers from around the world who oppose the doubling of troops in Afghanistan.
So in the news today, Barack Obama has approached Sanjay Gupta–host of CNN’s “House Call” and noted neurosurgeon–to become the Surgeon General. For some reason this has pissed people off. Why? It’s viewed as a “celebrity” pick.
Here’s my argument.
This is not like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who swaggered into office with nothing more than being head of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under his belt. This is not like Ronald Reagan, who was an actor by profession before he entered politics. To put Sanjay Gupta in the same category is ridiculous.
Sanjay Gupta’s training is in medicine, and he is a neurosurgeon–a field that is defined by its demand for perfection, since anything less than that could be fatal. The position he was tapped for was the position of Surgeon General. It’s not a terribly unusual situation.
Ok, so he is a CNN health correspondent. So? Chris Matthews is eyeing a run for Senator from Pennsylvania. He is a heavyweight in the world of political media, currently as the host of Hardball on MSNBC, and as a political writer and commentator in other media venues. He had a long political career that spanned several administrations before taking his place before a camera to comment on politics, rather than participate in it. Is Chris Matthews not worthy of a government position because of his celebrity status?
What are your thoughts?