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Hyperion September 22, 2001

#63 America's War: An Analysis

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

America has been attacked, and She has responded with horror, anger, bravery, and determination. Americans have been told they are going to war to root our terrorism, and seem to be supportive, at least for now. Yet questions remain. I intend to depart from my normally funny charming self to analyze America’s new war. Specifically: why was America attacked, what did the attackers hope to accomplish, and America’s options of what to do now.


This question presupposes two angles; why the terrorists chose America and how America could have let it happen. The first angle lies in three parts. (By the way, these terrorists belong to a huge group called Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden. I will be referring to both in this discussion) First, and perhaps foremost, America was attacked for its policies on Israel. You have to understand, Islam as practiced by Al-Qaeda is a perversion. Islam is a peaceful religion, and has nothing against the Jewish people. In fact, Islam calls Jews the “People of the Book,” and Islam traces Allah, their God, directly to the Old Testament. But many Arabs and Muslims (there are Arabs that aren’t Muslims and vice-versa) hate Israel, and not just the terrorists. To understand this, you need a short history on the history of Israel in the Twentieth Century:

For most of history, everyone has hated Jews. The whys of that could fill a book, but just accept that for now. Nations have enslaved Jews, expelled them, and with Hitler, exterminated them. After WWII was over, the world felt bad for allowing the Holocaust, but not bad enough to take the remaining Jews in. So, in 1948, Israel was established as a Jewish homeland. The problem was that there were already people there—who now call themselves Palestinians. Now, before WWII, when people spoke of Palestine, they were speaking of a Jewish homeland. The Arabs that occupied what is now Israel were never organized enough to be anything close to a nation. With Israel coming in, though, they were going to be displaced. Support gathered quickly, and on the day Israel became a country all the surrounding nations declared war, and they have—for the most part—been at it ever since. You may ask why the piece of land Israel has is so important, and why the surrounding countries couldn’t have absorbed the displaced Arabs. The answer is Jerusalem, which is the home to Judaism (remember, Muslims trace their heritage to the Old Testament, even if they ironically now hate Jews). The United States strongly supports Israel, gives them aid, and backs them in peace negotiations. That’s reason enough for Al-Qaeda right there.

Another reason Al-Qaeda attacked is America’s military presence in Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islamic holy cities Medina and Mecca. As bin Laden explained in a 1998 interview, the presence of American soldiers (including women; more on that in a minute) on hold ground is considered blasphemy.

The third reason is more tangible. For all its faults, America allows a good deal of personal freedom. We have the right to choose whatever religion we wish, and within limits, to say what we want. We choose how we dress, what we drive, where we live. Most importantly, we do not force our women to stay silent, to stay home, to stay completely enveloped in clothing, and we do not allow men to collect women like trophies (except for presidents). All of this threatens the way of life in for Al-Qaeda, especially the women in combat over there. It seems the notion of free women was catching on in Saudi Arabia, and they can’t allow that to happen or soon everyone will want to be free.

The second angle to look at is how America could have let this happen. One reason is that these terrorists are hard to find. You can’t travel to 451 Terrorist Av. and serve search warrants. There is no distinguishing mark on a terrorist’s head. The second reason is that even when found, Al-Qaeda is almost impossible to infiltrate. They rely heavily on family ties, and are very close-knit. The main reason, though, deals with America itself. Our freedom allows us mobility, convenience, and choice. It also makes us susceptible to attack. The bombing of Centennial Park during the Olympics might not have happened in another country. But here, we value our freedom, so we voluntarily give up some safety for that freedom. Think about it: we allow broad ownership of guns, our justice system is set up on the principle to allow ten guilty men to go free rather than convict one innocent one, and on and on. Before you write and tell me that safety is more important, go back and read the quote at the beginning. Do you see what Ben is saying? To give up our freedom robs us of who we are. That doesn’t mean we don’t make precautions, but to live in total fear, we’ve already let the terrorists win.

Join me tomorrow when we will finish the discussion by looking at what Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda hoped to accomplish by these attacks, and what the United States can and should do.

Until then,

September 21, 2001


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