11 September – fourteen years on
You can't make anyone see reason. All you can do is throw a big party around reason and see who shows up.
Its been fourteen years since the world as the US knew it literally exploded in its face in one of the most painful ways possible. The attacks on the New York World Trade Center and Pentagon were not the impulsive work of an unhappy loner. It wasn’t domestic terrorism. This was not the Oklahoma bombing or the Unibomber. The attack on one of the financial centers of the world and a major communications hub in New York City was a long planned, carefully thought out and executed act by a well funded and determined group.
The repercussions are still being felt. Multiple countries and thousands of families around the world were personally affected. All of us who were on active duty at the time knew at least one of those in the Pentagon. Most in the financial markets had a connection. But for thousands it was personal, caused a loss and impact that drastically changed the course of their lives.
The events of that day became fodder for countless news stories, journal articles, novels, memories and not a few criminal investigations.
It is difficult to say, but what became apparent over the next days, months and years was the depth of the hate some of the non-government organizations had for groups not like themselves coupled with the need to exterminate all those not agreeing. Violence, once again became an acceptable way to make your point. Not as a single individual or splinter group but as a major player on the world stage.
In certain mind sets the response was easy: military strike. Wipe them out, hunt them down. In doing so, it is easily possible to further the case you are trying to defeat. Demonstrating on CNN that you are the “evil western infidels” who are trying to destroy your particular way of life. Having started the fight has nothing to do with your reaction.
Poke the tiger with a stick, the tiger responds.
See! I told you the tiger is dangerous!
If it had only been that particular day and that particular set of government and military responses against essentially non-government allied groups we might have been able to settle down in a different world with a bit more fear but stability. Its not a pretty picture. Instead we are now mired in a conflict that looks to replace the Cold War for the next decades and beyond. This time there are not parties to sit down at a table and negotiate a peace. In truth I don’t think those on either side particularly want to the other to survive.
Militaries don’t just attack enemies in their plan to win a war. They fund research, search for tactical, technical and industrial advances to better be able to find and conquer their enemies. Parallel tanks rolling with cyber warfare. In this case it worked both ways. Monitoring found “enemies.” Cellphones let small groups and individuals better wreak havoc and kill. Drones can be piloted from half a world a way. Kill what is hopefully your enemy (if the intelligence is correct and it is not a school or clinic) and go home to your family in the evening.
Is it Ender’s Game, creating reality out of fiction?
We have stopped looking outward. The universe beyond our planet has been returned to those who write and read speculative fiction and isn’t a frontier of science and discovery. We look, but we don’t plan on seeing, traveling, exploring. As a global society, we seriously aren’t taking care of our planet. We continue to pump oil, destroy land, deliberately destroy forests while insisting that large parts of the “Third World” remain pristine so that we all can enjoy them. Those same parts of the world are riddled with disease and poverty. Unlike in earlier centuries communications have enabled the farmer whose crops were just elephant destroyed to know and see how others live their lives. To be told that he can’t kill the elephant, to be inundated with foreign images. One can hardly blame a parent for wanting better for their children which might just mean enough food to survive to the next growing season or a bed net to prevent mosquito bites.
Our world has become smaller, interconnected. Many aren’t adapting and are seeking to return to that time of history where Religion was reality and authority had all the answers. No thinking, no choices, just follow the prescribed path in this world. I am reminded of the Bug-Blatter Beast: just put the towel over your head and they won’t bother you.
Needing to wipe out your enemies is nothing new. Homo Sapiens is not a tolerant species which is why it has survived. Now – will we continue to survive?