The trigger to the decade's woes did not come out of the sky over Manhattan and Washington in 2001. There were many precursors, but they were ignored or misinterpreted. Like the bombings in Madrid and London, these attacks brought the best out of ordinary people – witness the heroism of the New York firefighters – and the worst out of their governments. Al-Qaida's attacks may have looked and felt like a declaration of war (the Guardian said so in its headline) but that, in retrospect, was the least appropriate reaction.
The quote above from today's issue of the Guardian (UK), along with the rest of the article that follows tells an important story and describes a perspective of the "War on Terror" that we don't often see in major media. Nonetheless, it is an important story, and bears quite a bit of thought.
Most of us who think in the mainstream (at least I like to think I do) would agree that the bombing in new York, Washington, London, Khobar, and elsewhere deserved a response that would inhibit or prevent future actions. Regrettably, those reactions resulted in no appreciable decrease in terror activities, and an appreciable increase in the types, intensity, and results of more recent activities. Just today (12/31) there are reports of a bomber blowing up a soldier and eight CIA agents, including the base chief, in Afghanistan. To most, these are men who died for their country, and to others they are needless deaths. it all depends on your perspective--and the Taliban perspective is decidedly in favor of more such actions.
As we go into the next decade of the 21st century, perhaps it is time to consider thinking and planning our reactions--and those of our coalition partners who are, after all, also losing valuable resources-- before we react to Taliban provocations. I'm not saying we should not react--only that we should assess first the near and possibly long term consequences of our actions--and not just be surprised and angry when they occur.
This is the last of my comments for 2009. See you tomorrow in 2010.