Archives for posts with tag: 9/11

A bunch of ideologically motivated criminals got together and perpetrated a horrible act of terrorism.
A group pf courageous passengers got together and partially foiled the terrorists’ plans.

Both the terrorists and the courageous passengers eventually died.
The terrorists died killing people while the heroes died saving lives.
The terrorists didn’t reach their ultimate goal – the US is still standing proud.
The heroes did achieve their goal. The hijacked plane crushed in a field, far from the target the terrorists aimed to destroy.

Doing something alongside others isn’t enough.
For that something to end up well, the goal must be wholesome!

On the face of it, the two men couldn’t have been more different: Bingham was 31 when he was killed; Judge was 68. Bingham, a former college rugby player with a 6-foot-5, 220-pound build, was a gay public relations executive with an active dating life. Judge was a kindly Franciscan friar who was “selectively out,” according to longtime friend and LGBTQ activist Brendan Fay.

But both men showed courage beyond comprehension that day, saving lives and perhaps even souls.”

“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.”
“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

George W. Bush 9/11 Address to the Nation, the Oval Office.

What went wrong?

Why is “war on terrorism” so hard to win? Even by the most powerful nation on Earth?

Let’s start with the beginning.

What is ‘terrorism’?
The calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.
I’m afraid this is only how terrorism works. Or not…
How terrorism is designed to work, more exactly.
Terrorism, before anything else, is a concept. A manner in which some people choose to act. A manner in which some people attempt to impose their will upon those around them.

Is it possible to wage war upon a concept?
Is it possible to win a war against a concept?

So what are we going to do? Cave in? Only because we cannot win a war against a concept?!?

How about redefining the problem?

How about choosing an achievable goal?
After all, we’ve been reasonably good at beating the terrorists themselves. And those harboring them…

Only if we had made some difference between these two!
Between the terrorists and those in the middle of whom they were hiding. And continue to hide…

Let’s get back to square one.

How does terrorism work?

Some ‘agents’ determine that what they want cannot be achieved in normal ways.
And choose instead to use terrorism as their tool ‘of choice’.

What do they need?

Man power, material resources, pertinent knowledge, time to organize the ‘heist’, a place to put it all together and a practical method to apply the ‘pressure’.

There are some things which are hard to control.
Not impossible but hard.
Material resources, for instance. A knife, or even a cutter blade, can be used for terrorist purposes. Money are also a very fungible resource.

Place is also a tricky thing. A remote ‘hamlet’ is easy to find. But transporting a terrorist ‘solution’ from a remote hamlet to a place where that ‘solution’ might produce the intended result is not so simple.

Time. The longer it takes to design a ‘solution’ and to implement it, the easier for the general public to find out what’s going on.

Pertinent knowledge. The more sophisticated the solution, the more pertinent knowledge is needed.
Which knowledge comes comes attached to the man-power involved.

So. What drives a knowledgeable person to use their skills towards producing terror?
Hard to say. And hard to change the mind of a person who has already become a terrorist. Either a person who had spent years descending into the ‘mood’ or somebody who had been convinced on the spur of the moment to ‘participate’ as a suicidal driver. Explosive vest wearer. Or knife wielder.

The above mentioned motives make it hard, almost impossibly hard, to prevent terrorist acts committed by deranged persons, specially when they act alone. Or as a very small ‘team’.

But when we the ‘solution’ has a certain degree of sophistication – terrorist plots, that is, there are many kinds of people involved. Initiators/backers, operatives, facilitators and ‘neighbors’.

It’s hard, almost impossible to change the minds of a determined ‘initiator’. Or of some of the ‘operatives’. The initiators tend to be sociopaths while many of the operators, specially those committing suicide, must be ‘hopeless persons’. Not only clinically depressed but outright hopeless.

But the rest?

Why would anybody back a terrorist plot if there’s another way of achieving a goal? There’s always the sociopathic explanation but not all ‘backers’ are sociopaths. Not in an obvious manner, anyway…

Which brings us to the facilitators and the neighbors.

We have, broadly, two situations.
When the terrorists want to inflict pain in the middle of the enemy territory or when the terrorists want to gain control over a territory.

In 2015 ten terrorists have killed some 130 people in Paris. Wounded a couple of hundreds. And wrecked the lives of many others. Nine of them had been killed by the law enforcement agencies. On the spot or during the next few days. Only one of the assailants has survived and had been apprehended later.
The process has just begun. Besides the surviving shooter there are other 19 other people against which have been brought charges. “some are accused of helping the gang without necessarily knowing the extent of the conspiracy.
Many of the accused, including some of the assailants, have lived – at least for a while, in Molenbeek, Belgium.
A suburban commune where quite a high percentage of the population feel ‘there’s no way out’.

Are you familiar with the studies which maintain that both people and mice prefer social interaction to using drugs? Statistically speaking, of course. A very few individuals get hooked and cannot give up while the vast majority stop using drugs when conditions return to normal. When the American soldiers had come back from the VietNam war, for instance.

Same thing is valid with ‘terrorism’. Along with other kinds of fundamentalism.

When too many members of a community become despondent some can be ‘converted’, many others will help – even if not engage directly, while the majority will turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their middle.

That’s why the terrorists who had wreaked havoc in Paris had been able to organize themselves in Molenbeek without the police finding out what was going on.
That’s why the Americans had not been able to wipe out the Taliban. And why the Taliban have grabbed back power so quickly once the Americans had decided to pull back.
Because not enough of those living there – in both Molenbeek and Afghanistan, were hopeful about their future.

Because not enough of the Afghani hearts and minds have been won over.

I’m afraid that making “no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them” wasn’t helpful.
On the contrary…

And please, please, click the first picture and read the article.

Twenty years ago I was watching, on TV, the towers being destroyed.

I still remember, vividly, the people falling from the buildings I had visited 6 short years before they been torn down by terrorists.
The buildings which were replaced by a huge gap in the Earth when I took my family to visit New York. The only other place in the world where I would live beside my home town, Bucharest, Romania.

I’m watching now desperate people trying to board a plane in Kabul’s airport as the American troops are pulling back.

This instantly brought back to my memory another famous image.

We can discuss at nauseam about the significance of these pictures.
Because significance is something we attach to things and we impart to events.

I prefer to turn my attention to realities.

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, in 2018.

The only difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam being that the Viet-Cong were communists.
And the link between them the fact that the American planners have understood nothing from the first debacle.

And yes, parallels are also something which is up to us to notice. Us, who have witnessed the events and who are free to attach significance to each of them.


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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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A day of mourning and remembrance.

My son was two years old at that time and doesn’t have any personal recollections of that moment yet has a rather clear understanding of what happened. Some wackos somehow crashed three airplanes into three of the most important buildings in America and, by doing so, simply changed the world.

I still remember vividly having my eyes glued to the TV screen. All those people jumping from the windows. So much desperation. One question still haunts me to this day. What made those wackos do what they did? What made them so ‘desperate’ as to … OK, they must have had some ‘predisposition’ of sorts… not every desperate person does what they did … only in a normal world really desperate people get noticed by their community and are treated accordingly. They get help and/or are rendered harmless to the others.

So our real problem is why hadn’t the wider community noticed that particular kind of ‘desperation’, and its intensity, and why hadn’t something been done about it. Another thing. There is something else that the wider community has failed to notice.
That the closer community, exactly those people who in normal circumstances notice and stop this kind of tragic occurrences, helped the perpetrators instead of blowing the whistle.

And it seems we continue to not understand what had really happened.

A ‘war on terror’ has been declared.
Only there is a small problem here.
Nobody can fight ‘terror’, just as nobody can fight the blue color.
The only thing we can do, as warriors, is fight terrorists. And if we limit ourselves to fighting them we perversely confirm their mantra – ‘we are under attack, we are weak so the only thing we can do is use ‘terror’ as weapon’.

Maybe thirteen years of this is enough.

The reality is that we are far more powerful than they are. This situation offers us a lot more options than they have.
Among these options is that in parallel with defending ourselves we might try to separate the active terrorists from the communities that support them. In order to do this we must recognize that those communities do have grievances. Some make sense, some don’t but if we disconsider all their grievances, wholesale, we do nothing but validate what the extremists are preaching: ‘those “white” people simply don’t care about any of us’. That’s why so many members of the communities among which the terrorist are usually hiding turn their heads when they see a terrorist act being prepared. Most of them wouldn’t participate directly – because of fear or maybe they abhor violence, as any normal human being does – but being convinced that ‘the “white” people don’t care about them’ makes them wonder ‘why should I care if the “white” people ‘gets it’?’

There is no shortage of people crazy enough to do horrible things. Just watch the 5 o’clock news. There is no way to change that. What we can do is give enough positive reasons to the communities to ‘call 911’ instead of turning away their heads. And sometimes gloat.

PS. ‘Positive reasons’ doesn’t mean ‘bribe them’. That might help a little but would not solve the situation. What we need to do is to convince them, and even some of our people too, that being different doesn’t mean being less human. After that things will become way simpler. No normal human being is comfortable seeing how his FELLOW human being is killed or otherwise hurt.