The dictionary definition of the word “hosanna” is ‘a shout of fervent and worshipful praise’, or ‘to express praise or adoration of God.’ This is not something you are likely to hear in the West in regard to Osama bin Laden. But, to a great many people of the world, he is a hero.
He killed thousands of people, did billions of dollars worth of damage, sparked the war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and inspired or conspired many other attacks. Most people in the West are convinced that he is a madman and must be stopped. While I agree he must be stopped, we will never solve this problem if we view him as a madman. If he is viewed as a hero by others, we may catch him, but someone new will fill his role. His cause will not die with his last breath. Are we to assume all these people are madmen too?
Years ago, a journalist had the opportunity to interview Osama. Upon arrival at the hidden camp, he was given information that most people would usually consider private: checking account and PIN numbers, mortgage information, names and addresses of friends and family. The message was very clear. If the journalist had any notions of being a hero, he would pay the price in more ways than one. Osama knows something we forgot: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.
Because we are convinced that he is an evil madman, we do not respect his intelligence. And intelligence, both of the CIA type, and of the clever type, is at the heart of terrorist success.
We have a huge defense infrastructure, which despite its great expense, is all brawn and no brain. We spent billions bankrupting the Soviet Union, but Osama did billions of dollars of damage with $20 worth of box-cutters. We go to the other side of the globe to seek weapons of mass destruction, when our intelligent foe can find them at the corner hardware store.
We waste time changing the names of CIA buildings, rather than being concerned about what goes on inside of them. We casually accept arguments about plaques and memorials and compensation, as if the weary dead can be best represented by feel good feel-my-pain sloganeering. As if this intellectual dishonesty wasn’t enough, we also have Americans working against Americans, and exposing agents for political vendettas.
Our strategy has been to put a lock one every door. Never-mind all the intelligence failures and double agents of the past, we are to believe more locks will make the difference. We now have a bureaucratic boondoggle, where it is just as likely that we are locking the terrorists IN as we are locking them OUT.
Osama came within minutes of striking the White House and our President with $5, and we cannot strike him with billions. Our success in catching him, when and if it comes, will still be a sign of our weakness and failures. We have spent our peacetime years developing bunker-buster bombs for an unknown enemy, and had no useful field intelligence with which to use them. This is what our tax dollar purchased. Our children are shedding their blood to pay for our collective indifference to serious issues.
Our response to 9/11 has been to dissect the al Qaeda organization like a laboratory frog. We trust our scientific method to the point of blindness. The insides of the frog will not reveal what the frog was thinking or feeling. We are so convinced that the ordering of our society is beyond reproach that even the most grotesque of acts will not make us pause to wonder WHY there is so much rising Muslim anger.
Politicians vacillate between an endless discussions of who is to blame for the security failure, to a fear of having any meaningful discussion because it may have political consequences. This inadequacy is ours collectively to bear. It is not a strategic or procedural failure. It is a failure of intelligence, of the raw, objective, philosophical kind.
Our responsibility and duty to the protection and spread of Liberty is a failing grade. We point to Saddam and claim that he flunked the moral test. It is an odd standard we set. If we believe a sovereign nation is not to fit to rule for moral reasons, what then are we to say when Osama holds us accountable to the same subjective standard? We dismiss the UN as a hindrance to the urgency of national interest, and weaken the world’s only forum for a discussion of peace between terrorists, tyrants and the free. One would expect the criminals would not want to negotiate, not the defenders of truth and justice.
Perhaps both the terrorist and the tyrant are closer at hand then we would like them to be. I will withhold my alleluia for the intelligent leader who finds the path to peace.
We need a resolution, not just between the Muslims and the west, but between the Israelis and the Palestinians and within the South American nations as well. America is involved in far too many civil wars to claim that it is always an innocent honest broker. Our dependence on oil and our war on drugs have followed similar strategies with similar results. We meddle with the internal affairs of countries to serve our perceived national interest. The willingness to expose our own intelligence agents reveals a fear of complex situations, and the lack of a moral compass. These egregious traits of our government make it impossible to deal with a terrorist threat, or help find a peace for anyone. The process of democracy is working perfectly, as the government does reflect the majority will of the people: angry, self-absorbed and complacent with war. This is the current position of all parties. An intelligent people would not tolerate it.
“My hope [is] that we have not labored in vain, and that our experiment will still prove that men can be governed by reason.” –Thomas Jefferson to George Mason, 1791.