Once again a number of readers have left thoughtful comments. Unfortunately due to health and time limitations, I cannot respond to them all individually at this time. Here are a few thoughts inspired by comments, I hope to expound further at a later date. Once again I appreciate all comments, pro and con. Anyone who cannot handle dissenting opinion must not be very secure in their beliefs. Still, some people, me included, sometimes have trouble separating the personal from the political. So I do understand why people might get upset, emotions can be so annoying sometimes. On the other hand, if people didn’t have emotions we would have a planet full of psychopaths, so it’s a small price to pay. And as well there are emotions so good and powerful it’s like a light shining through you. Maybe this isn’t proof of God, but to me it hints at where people may have gotten the idea that there was something going on behind the curtain.
When I talk about Saddam the Martyr, I am talking about Saddam the symbol, not Saddam the man. His crimes don’t matter if our enemies are able to use him to further their cause. It is a failure of American policy that his trial and execution are so easily turned against us. This also illustrates the growing power of the distributed media, one guy with a cell phone made America’s virtual monopoly of the mainstream media utterly meaningless. It’s an interesting feature of the age that in many real senses the increasing power of the state is balanced by the increasing distribution of power. Gunpowder ultimately doomed feudalism as a viable form of government, smokeless gunpowder similarly doomed colonialism (though it’s still in its death throes.) Will the cell phone and the PC do the same to the neocolonial era?
As far as Somalia, when the USA acts as judge, jury, and executioner…justice is not served. Especially when innocent people die in the process. The people who blew up the embassies were criminal thugs, the USA responding in kind merely lowers us to their level. A government that holds up the mantle of law and justice, while it simultaneously smites it’s enemies with no regard for the very same standards is not occupying the moral high ground. Of course all governments are guilty of this, but only the US and Israel don’t even try to be subtle about it. What ever happened to “plausible deniability?” We are so arrogant that we think we can do whatever we want the, consequences be damned. There’s a lot of Israelis and Americans in body bags because of this hubris, and I expect there will be a lot more before this is all over. The world is too big to rule by force alone, history has not been kind to people who didn’t understand this.
Ah well, America is still a great country. So in a complete change of pace I will tell the story of my connection with Kuwait, though it does illustrate some of what is great about America. In the seventies I was a US Marine stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. It was a school for antiaircraft weapons, and people from all over the world trained there. It was kind of wild driving around base, there would be soldiers and signs from dozens of different militaries. It was as close as I ever got to seeing the world while in the service, but in many senses Texas is on another planet than California so I learnt a lot.
In any event, the buzz at the time was that the guys from Kuwait were “normal” while the rest of the Arabs there were basically nuts. And there was some truth to it, in that the others pretty much only associated with their own, while the officers from Kuwait went out of their way to make American friends. So these two Kuwaiti fellows hung out with me and my buddies. I couldn’t remember their names now to save my life, I hope they are doing well wherever they are. They married nice American girls and are living in Schenectady for all I know.
Moving right along, we took them camping with us one weekend. We all jump into cars, drive off base, and stop by a buddy’s off-base home. We run into the house and grab our camping gear. On the last trip, we all come out with pistols strapped on and toss a bunch of rifles in the car trunks. The Kuwaiti guys are, shall we say, a bit surprised. They’re like, “Um, what’s with all the guns?” Who knows what they were thinking they’d gotten themselves into, but we explained that they were just for fun, and maybe shooting a few rabbits to eat or rattlesnakes that were bothering us.
They adjusted quickly, their next question was “Where did you get the guns?” Again, simple explanation, we bought them in stores. Long story short, on the way out of town we stopped at a sporting goods store. In Texas at the time the only requirement for gun purchase was that the buyer had to be able to physically push the money across the counter in the general direction of the seller. Our two Kuwaiti friends qualified handily, and minutes later their two guns went in the trunk. And yes, a number of rabbits and rattlesnakes did come to an untimely end that weekend. Some of them were even eaten, good times. And now my foreign readers know at least part of the reason why I say that America is like living in Disneyland with guns.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, and it is central to illustrating the post.)