The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


My friend NEO published a piece which deals with a subject on which I had intended to write.  Since he did so, I would refer you to his post as he did an excellent job as always of giving details on the subject of closing our embassies this Sunday because of “fear of al-Qaeda” malevolence”.

We are, through the month of August under a “high security watch”.  Those of us who remember back to September 11, 2001 will recall how the threat level was indicated by a barometer of varying colors.  We took those indications seriously after the events of that fateful day.

The warning coming from our government is that people who are travelling – especially to the Middle East should take extra precautions.  I would imagine that anyone who had business in the Middle East, which is perhaps the world’s most volatile powder keg, probably already knew to do that.

Together with the traveler’s advisory and the announcement of the closing of a number of our embassies was the statement that “due to NSA electronic surveillance, thirteen potential ‘situations” had been diffused before terrorists could carry them out.”

Perhaps this will sound a bit like paranoia – a mindset I try to avoid – but I find that statement less consoling than I do self-serving.  It is, of course, hard for anyone to prove or disprove that thirteen separate incidents did not occur for any specific reason – electronic surveillance or otherwise.

It’s hard for me not to wonder that if NSA surveillance is so effective, why did we have the tragedy at the Boston Marathon?  And it’s hard for me not to ask the question, is the recent threat warning and the embassy closing really due to any actual threats (real or imagined) – or is this just a dog and pony show to diffuse the rising anger coming from the American people about the surveillance which our government has unconstitutionally engaged in on all of us?

Perhaps that sounds like paranoia to you.  If the NSA scandal were unique – I might question my point of view myself – as I often do.  But as we all know, the NSA is merely the latest in a litany of scandals in which the administration has voluntarily embroiled itself.

But for a moment, and merely for the sake of discussion, let’s take the recent advisory at face value.  The question that we need to ask is, “Is the closing of our embassies the right response?”

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life it is that evil exists.   Closing our eyes to it and attempting to hide from it merely strengthen its resolve to destroy us, taking our “prudent” retreat as a sign of weakness.  In order to destroy evil we must, as much as we would like to avoid doing so, confront it.  This is a principle known as moral courage.  That is a principle that has been a pillar of American action throughout our history.

We may try to placate evil (in this case terrorism), but like the greedy blackmailer who has received his demanded ransom, he now comes back and asks for more.  And he will never stop asking until we stop allowing him to suck us dry.

There is little argument that the terrorists of whom I speak, share a common bond.  That bond is Islam – or what we politely call “radical” Islam.  Is there another version?  Like the blackmailer, Islam treats all who are not believers as though they are second-class people and tolerates their presence only if they pay a special “tax”.  If that isn’t blackmail, perhaps I need to get a better understanding of what is.

And we in America, like most of our friends in Europe have gone along with paying this tax – but we call it “accommodation”.  Take a look at Europe to see how well that strategy has worked.  The recent outbursts in France, the beheading of a soldier in the UK, the list goes on ad nauseam.

You can only deal reasonably with people who are themselves reasonable.  Terrorists are, virtually by definition, not members of that group.  And so it is high time that we stopped dealing with them as though they were.  It is high time that we stopped making excuses for those who have no good will toward us and treat them as the evil enemy that they are.  When reason and logic fail, we need to exert the considerable force that we have to make our statement clear.

The closing of our embassies makes exactly the opposite statement and only serves to further empower this evil.  It can smell weakness, lack of resolve and the abandonment of moral principles.  These are the pheromones it uses to  track down its prey.  And we are that prey.

We know what happened to the first two little pigs when the Big Bad Wolf came to their homes.  They sought shelter with their brother in his well-built house, believing they were safe and secure that all the wolf’s huffing and puffing could not blow it down.

But unlike the third little pig who slammed the door in the wolf’s face, our wolf has already entered our home through the back door and is contemplating his next meal.

The message we should be sending is a simple one.

“We are open for business as usual.  Be advised that we are armed, dangerous and ready to apply deadly force if you provoke us to do so.  Enter at your own risk.”

Comments on: "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS" (9)

  1. Thanks for the link.

    That all purpose guide to acting like a man, Kipling , had this to say.

    “It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
    “We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

    And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
    That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
    And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

    It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: —
    “Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we’ve proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

    It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: —

    “We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!””

    • I wasn’t familiar with the Kipling poem – so thank you for broadening my literary education – and for your extensive contributions to “the cause”.

      • I don’t know who I’d quote if it wasn’t for Kipling, although I occasionally cheat, Jess wrote her thesis on Kipling, I think.

        And thanks for all you do, we may pull this off yet.

  2. Spot on as usual – absolutely right.

  3. If there is weakness, moral or otherwise, invariably someone (or group) will find and exploit it. Whether it is hackers, jihadists, mafia, corporations or politicians, there’s little difference in an underlying desire to find that weakness and make use of it. And who among us does not, in one way or another, do the same…whether conscious of it or not?

    Ask a pig on its way to the slaughterhouse if the people at Mac Donald’s, who are waiting in line to order their ‘hamburger,’ are not (at least subconsciously) exploiting that pig’s inability to know what lies ahead.

    So what is evil, and what is not? Apparently that depends entirely on one’s point of view (or lack thereof). 😉

    • Even vegetarians kill something to survive. That is the nature of the deadly feast of life.

      But those who espouse that we are the top of the food chain also usually posit that we are in that position because of our ability to think more effectively than other species. In some respect, that thinking has led us (generally) to adopt certain rules by which we are meant to govern our actions.

      While, as you say, the notion of good and evil may be subject to a great deal of discussion and result in differing opinions as to their definitions, I would use as a starting point something akin to the Ten Commandments. Interestingly, those generally are incorporated in the cultures of most advanced, although diverse, civilized human communities. If we continue to ignore that pesky one about killing, the conversation may be moot.

  4. I cannot understand how extremists in any religion can convince themselves they serve a God/god who they erroneously feel insists they the followers destroy in order to achieve some hoped for better place because of their wicked actions. Why would you want to serve such a god? There is a balance between staring the enemy down and protecting yourself. I think the US leaders are acting in the interests of their citizens right now.

    • I guess the answer is that if you look at the conditions in the countries where Islam is the predominant creed, anything (even if only imagined) would be better.

      As to the threat assessment – I hope this is a case of being over zealous. It’s always hard to know what irrational people might do. However, I stand by my statement that in mnay ways we have enabled just the environment in which these zealots thrive.

      The west was kind enough to allow them to immigrate to Europe and the US. If they are not happy with the customs here – they are free to go back to their countries of origin. One can only wonder why – if things were so terrific in their native lands – they chose to leave them in the first place.

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