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July 8, 2005

Our best?

I read something recently about the way the public mood was so misjudged after September 11th 2001. Revenge wasn’t the first word on everybody’s lips, but instead compassion, outpouring like it never had before. If America had had a different kind of leadership- more confident and less shakeable- it could have rode that wave to show those who hate what we stand for how wrong they are in their condemnation. A better world could have come of that tragedy but instead the simpler knee-jerk reaction was chosen, and here we are four years later and it’s all the same. In no way is anyone responsible for these acts but the perpetrators, but I also don’t think world leaders have done much to make us safer. Iraq had nothing to do with international terrorism until the US invaded, and now it’s a breeding ground. Their regime needed to be done away with, but it was hardly the ideal political climate in which to do so. I would feel much more confident about proclaiming the greatness of our society (and I really believe it is great) if we had taken a look at ourselves after 9/11 and ensured we had no blood on our hands. Our reputation has been sullied by irresponsible leaders who have lied to us and riled us to ignorance for their own gain- but it’s clear now that this isn’t the war they were looking for. It’s like the Russians who rolled their 19th century cannons into World War One. You can’t fight a war with “terror”; you can’t win it and you can’t land on a boat in a jumpsuit and proclaim your mission accomplished- unless your mission was to stir up a chaotic maelstrom throughout an already troubled place. Reading the Churchill quotes at Live Free or Die, it’s so clear what a dearth of good leadership we have today. Churchill says, “You do your worst and we will do our best” but for the last four years, I don’t think “we’ve” been doing our best at all. Something has to change because the road we’re on currently just isn’t going anywhere.

The Guardian has some really throughtful articles right now that I’ve enjoyed. We’re in Toronto this weekend- patio bbq last night with a view of the skyline, today we went our for breakfast, went to the Beaches, an art show in Nathan Phillips Square, looked for Miffy goods in Chinatown and bought fruit and veg in Kensington. We saw our new apartment last night, and it’s the most wonderful place I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with this city in a way I never was when I last lived here. Was ashamed by the Toronto Sun headline this morning, which my English husband really didn’t find amusing. I thought “Bastards” was brilliant, and “Go get ’em George” was classic, but todays’ headline- so distasteful that I daren’t repeat it- was simply inexcusable.

And just sad for London, which is one of the most magical places in the world. We were there just two weeks ago, which of course makes it stranger. So relieved no one I love was too affected, as selfish as that may be.

2 thoughts on “Our best?”

  1. Mike says:

    Kerry, I think your points about the Iraq War are good ones. But I vigorously disagree that these attacks were the product of that war. There were a variety of terrorist attacks committed prior to the winter/spring of 2003 – the first World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, and of course 9/11 itself.

    I think that while the Iraq War upset many people (e.g. such as yourself and many other friends and family of mine), Muslim extremists already had already accumulated more than enough grievances in their perverse thinking to produce actions such as we saw in London.

    I would also question the idea, being bandied about by some, that various policy changes would ameliorate or eliminate the terrorist threat. Probably a political solution in, say, the West Bank might accomplish this. But I’m these are not the same people. Al-Quaeda does not have a set of limited, local objectives. It (if you can label this diffuse group an ‘it’) has an amorphous ideology of hatred towards the “west” (which apparently includes Turkey and Indonesia, judged by bombing locations) and a desire to see the institutionalization of Islamic theocracies throughout the Middle East.

    To lump all terrorists together and to treat all terrorist activity in the same way would be profoundly ignorant. Hamas is not the IRA. Chechen rebels are not Basque separatists. But on the other side of the coin, to simply assume that this particular terrorist group – al-Quaeda – can be reasoned with is, to my mind, a dangerous fallacy.

  2. Mike says:

    Please excuse any typos – I’m hungry and need to get out of work and into fresh air ASAP.

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