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Old 09-11-2003, 06:00 AM   #1
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"Sense of security just an illusion"

Just read this in the Toronto Star.
Asks some good questions, demands some good answers.

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Sep. 11, 2003. 01:00AM

Sense of security just an illusion

JAMES TRAVERS

This is not an easy moment to ask hard questions. On this day of this month, grief, the increasingly gaudy theatre of daily life, and relentless pressure to seize political advantage from seminal events, all conspire to make introspection difficult, if not impossible.

But is there a better, more propitious time to reflect and to stick a bookmark in current history? Is there another time when we are more likely to ask if we are now significantly more secure, politically discerning or wise?

The answer to the first question is self-evident, the others elusive.

Two years ago, conventional wisdom held that the intrusion of realities that make much of the rest of the world so dangerous had changed this continent suddenly and forever. Retrospect suggests the conclusion was at best premature and at worst misleading.

Instead of changing everything, the attacks on New York and Washington shifted most things. It is as if the frame around experience and expectation is twisted, unfamiliar and unsettling.

Priorities are changed. Principles that once seemed sacrosanct are devalued, often without much debate. People made anxious by ill-defined threats are more alert but not much less vulnerable.

Those symptoms surface even here in a capital where distance from a new generation's ground zero makes both cause and effect less immediate.

With a sharp eye turned to its nervous neighbour, the federal government is in the 9/11 aftermath giving money and power that would have been spent on health and education to a police and security apparatus that can do more to make us feel protected than to make us safe.

It is playing fast and loose with civil liberties, sliding down a slippery slope that so far has only embarrassed agencies that, freed from the constraints of evidence, are finding ethereal conspiracies.

Most of all, widespread, if ill-defined, fear is a magnet drawing politicians toward tactics that offer only the appearance of leadership.

While some progress has been made, the cumulative effect doesn't inspire confidence.

Perhaps it is the failure to find Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction that makes intelligence seem a one-word oxymoron, but it is surely obvious that the expensively reinforced bricks and mortar can't protect an open society from the outrages of a few closed minds.

Rather than grasp the nettle of discouraging circumstance, the democratic body politic retreats into illusion. Legal rights and the fundamental freedom of privacy are eroded so no politician will have to admit that nothing was done. Leadership is measured by airtime in a 24/7 television universe, not the ability to choose and explain the best of less than perfect options.

It shouldn't be forgotten that George W. Bush found legitimacy for his presidency in catastrophic events. Nor should it be forgotten that the monotonous recital of hopelessly simplistic remedies is failing to accelerate the world toward lasting solutions.

All but ignored by societies distracted by the chaff of network news, Afghanistan teeters near chaos, putting at risk not only the lives of 1,900 Canadians serving there but the modicum of stability and social advancement gained when the Taliban was overthrown.

Once only a minor front in the War on Terrorism, Iraq is reconstructing itself not as an American model in the Middle East but as the locus for evil that Bush first fantasized in justifying a military campaign loaded with ulterior motives.

And, slightly to the west, the region's real open wound bleeds without any promise that the international community will find the courage or prescription to address a problem it chose to let fester for too long.

As important as it is today to remember the 2,792 victims, it is also important to remember that stunning adversity is part of the lives of nations. How they respond is an unwanted, yet crucial, test of their will.

That test will continue for years, perhaps decades. But the early reports are discouraging. After two years, we have only a little more than the illusion of progress, the illusion of security, to show for a continent's fixation on its exposure to a world of troubles.

Profligate spending on highly visible defences have not and will not close the inevitable loopholes in a society that finds its strength in openness.

A foolish war waged for other purposes is giving terrorism an expansive stage and renewed vigour.

And a political process that thrives on the willing suspension of public disbelief is demonstrably more cynical, more manipulative.

It is those questions questions about how we got from there to here in just 24 months that on this day of pain and remembrance still demand answers
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Old 09-11-2003, 10:49 AM   #2
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It sounds like the author would prefer the pre 9/11 world, when we could live in blissful ignorance of the evil in this world.

What would be the author's alternative? What would the author like to see happened after 9/11 with a different president? A small strike on some remote camps in Afghanistan and probably not much more. The overthrow of the Taliban is dismissed as only a "modicum of stability and social advancement"!?!

Keep your head in the sand Mr. Travers, writing your GWB-hating hyperbole.

ps. the author didn't ask questions, just ranted with a number of statements.
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Old 09-11-2003, 11:02 AM   #3
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The Taliban was truly evil, and I, for one, was glad when they were overthrown. Afghanistan is such a treacherous piece of geography for political unity and stability, but it's worth a try. They do need more security outside of Kabul. If Afghanistan hadn't gone to hell in a haybasket before anyone had ever heard of bin Laden and Co. this crud might not have happened. That's the real problem there, twenty + years of civil war and chaos.
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Old 09-11-2003, 11:09 AM   #4
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That is part of the problem Verte. Most people were relatively ignorant of what the Taliban was all about, or could dismiss is as a Muslim problem "over there".

Couple a oppresive society with a doctrine of regional dominance and elimination of all "infidels" and you have a recipe for evil that must be addressed.
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Old 09-11-2003, 11:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
That is part of the problem Verte. Most people were relatively ignorant of what the Taliban was all about, or could dismiss is as a Muslim problem "over there".

Couple a oppresive society with a doctrine of regional dominance and elimination of all "infidels" and you have a recipe for evil that must be addressed.
I agree, you just can't isolate a situation like that. What the Taliban did was in the press a little over here, but I didn't know anything about it myself until after the attacks. I felt the same emotions again when I read Jean Sasson's "Princess Trilogy". Whew! What a mess!!
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Old 09-12-2003, 04:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
The overthrow of the Taliban is dismissed as only a "modicum of stability and social advancement"!?!

Keep your head in the sand Mr. Travers, writing your GWB-hating hyperbole.

ps. the author didn't ask questions, just ranted with a number of statements.

The taliban is coming back and as soon as the US leaves Afganistan in 5 to 10 years they will shuffle right back in so it is an illusion right now that they're gone. Why are there so few US soldiers there ? I thought the US was supposed to rebuild Afghanistan and turn it into a democracy or at least that's what Bush has been saying for two years now, so what happened and why don't Americans ask these questions regarding there president instead of patting him on the back for everything ? Outside of Kabul the country is ruled by warlords who are supported by the US and why is the poppy fields of Afghanistan in full bloom again, I thought the US was against drugs ?
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Old 09-12-2003, 05:14 PM   #7
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We're talking about changing a culture, not ordering fast food. Rebuilding Afghanistan into a democracy won't happen in two years.
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Old 09-12-2003, 10:55 PM   #8
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
We're talking about changing a culture, not ordering fast food. Rebuilding Afghanistan into a democracy won't happen in two years.
I don't think America has any plans on rebuilding Afganistan.
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Old 09-12-2003, 11:33 PM   #9
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Rebuilding Afghanistan into a democracy won't happen in two years.
See, this implies Afghanistan was, at some point a democracy. It was not - democracy is essentially the way we think they should live over there. They just may disagree until kingdom come. There is no culture or tradition of democracy in Afghanistan or in Iraq.
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Old 09-13-2003, 12:25 PM   #10
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It's true that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq has any background or tradition in democracy. They've lived under mostly absolute monarchies, with Sharia, or Islamic law, in force for centuries. It's questionable to me if they will ever be democracies as we understand the concept of democracy.
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Old 09-13-2003, 12:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
The Taliban was truly evil, and I, for one, was glad when they were overthrown. Afghanistan is such a treacherous piece of geography for political unity and stability, but it's worth a try. They do need more security outside of Kabul. If Afghanistan hadn't gone to hell in a haybasket before anyone had ever heard of bin Laden and Co. this crud might not have happened. That's the real problem there, twenty + years of civil war and chaos.

They are that evil the US helped them in their fight against the Russians.
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Old 09-13-2003, 12:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
It sounds like the author would prefer the pre 9/11 world, when we could live in blissful ignorance of the evil in this world.

What would be the author's alternative? What would the author like to see happened after 9/11 with a different president? A small strike on some remote camps in Afghanistan and probably not much more. The overthrow of the Taliban is dismissed as only a "modicum of stability and social advancement"!?!

Keep your head in the sand Mr. Travers, writing your GWB-hating hyperbole.

ps. the author didn't ask questions, just ranted with a number of statements.
No, I don't think the author would like to return to the "ignorance of evil"(whose ignorance? What is evil?) of the pre-9/11 world. I think he was/is looking for a better response than "you're either with us, or against us", and other simplistic talk that demonises and dehumanises. I think he was looking for more than instilling fear into America and the rest of the world(fear of America if you live in North Korea, Iran or any country that is "evil")

America (and Canada) are spending more on arms, more on "security measures" (human rights restrictions) and people feel less safe because fear is being pumped into them at the same time.

The response to 9-11 was a knee jerk reaction to go to war. There was no real debate. Now, Iraq and Afghanistan are not secure or necesarily safer than before and the future is unknown.

I think he hungers for, like many, a meaningful, thoughtful response. America is and propagates "evil" in the eyes of many in the world. No one asked why. I haven't heard any thoughtful responses from politicians on why people hate America enough to carry out something like Sept 11. I believe that is what Mr. Travers is searching for. Self-criticism never entered into the mindset of American politicians.
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Old 09-13-2003, 01:17 PM   #13
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They are that evil the US helped them in their fight against the Russians.
I know. The government claimed that they had to be virtuous in some way to oppose the evil Soviet Empire. Little did they understand that once they'd beaten the Soviets, they'd turn against the U.S, but that's exactly what happened.
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Old 09-14-2003, 03:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
The Taliban was truly evil, and I, for one, was glad when they were overthrown. Afghanistan is such a treacherous piece of geography for political unity and stability, but it's worth a try. They do need more security outside of Kabul. If Afghanistan hadn't gone to hell in a haybasket before anyone had ever heard of bin Laden and Co. this crud might not have happened. That's the real problem there, twenty + years of civil war and chaos.
I think i am misunderstanding this, but worth a try ?

...and when it goes wrong, well. We tryed,.....
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Old 09-14-2003, 11:58 AM   #15
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If the world community can help Afghanistan become a more stable, peaceful and prosperous society, it's worth a try because of all of the horrific suffering that's gone on in that country, and still is. I remember reading a shocking WHO report about the country. The report was based on information gathered before 9/11. People were dying all over of starvation and starvation-related disease. I was devastated after reading the report and wondered if there was anything I could do. Yes, give to the NGO's, Afghan nationals on the Internet told me. I was in contact with several of these people. They also asked me to contact my government and ask it to help stabilize their country. That place is still one big hellhole. There's an incredible amount of suffering going on and it's worth trying to stop. No one should have to live like this.
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