I cannot think of one American death in Afghanistan that was not meaningful in some way. The attacks on September 11th left no doubt of the need for an overwhelming response. The Taliban government of Afghanistan had made no secret that it was harboring Al Qaeda. We had known for years that one of the greatest recent threats to the United States had found a safe haven among that government of radical Islamists. When the death of Americans was no longer something that happened far away, but was something we watched live, the collective cry of anguish that the nation issued upon the collapse of the first tower was fed by an equally strong and instantaneous lust for revenge. It wasn’t a sleeping giant that had been awakened, but rather a giant that had taken its safety for granted. Only rarely before in the history of man could a nation feel as safe as ours. The nineties were not a time of untouchable tranquility for America, but it might as well have been. Having come out of the long nightmare that was the Cold War as the victor, it was only natural to assume the worst of times were far behind us. We had walked the razor’s edge of deterrence, and despite ourselves and our enemy, deterrence had worked. The world was now safe — for Americans, anyway. Continue reading “Meaningful Deaths and Those Based on Lies”
Every now and again the feeling will rise up, a little prick at the back of my mind to remind me of the times we live in. I find myself taking a morbid outlook at my surroundings when the feeling arises. I think of tactical vulnerabilities. I look around the train, or the station, or I gaze at the skyline and picture the scene becoming mangled and grotesque in an instant. But just as quickly as the feeling comes on, away it goes. It would be impossible to live in this city from day to day if I were to think about the inevitable. After all, the odds are with me. There are eight million people living in this city, with millions more visiting it every day for work or play. An explosion tearing its way through a bus, a subway train, or a crowded movie theater represents a grim lottery that only a few will lose. It’s the knowledge, that “it’s only a matter of time” mentality which becomes a strain. So the inevitable explosion, the inevitable carnage, the fact that this grim lottery is being played out despite the participant’s unwillingness to play, is ignored, otherwise I would think myself a fool every time I walked down the steps to the subway platform.