Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Opinion: An attack on America’s psyche

October 17, 2001

As U.S. military planes destroy the last remaining targets in the already desolate country of Afghanistan, the fears in the United States continue.
The recent anthrax scares and yes, some infections, have left people uncertain, cautious, some fearful. Experts say some of these fears are unwarranted, asking us to use common since when it comes to these recent events. However, our fear of a widespread disaster still exists.
Although the most recent anthrax case involved a 7-month-old baby in New York, the anthrax infection cases the baby was in a tour group at the ABC news room a week prior to be diagnosed with anthrax targeted media and public officials; the two prominent segments of society that could heighten widespread fear quickly.
Even though officials say the anthrax infections are not related to Osama bin Laden and other terrorist cells, this brings President George Bush's words into perspective: "This is a new type of war."
The battleground of the new war is not Afghanistan but here, and the weapon our enemy has chosen has left the U.S. at a grave disadvantage. For more than a quarter of a century, America has developed as a super power militarily and economically, but this power has coexisted with political inconsistency.
Since Vietnam, this contradiction has led to such events as the Iranian hostage crisis; the flight from Beirut after servicemen were killed in the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks bombing; the pulling out of Somalia; the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; in-action with the Rwandan genocide war; and the whimsical dealings with Haiti.
The country's suspicion and impatience of its citizens when confronted with its use has left politicians, with few exceptions, unwilling to expend the political capital required to convince the country to act decisively when its interests are at stake. Even in the Persian Gulf War, politics kept the military from taking Saddam Hussein out completely, leaving him to commit more atrocities on his people.
The country does not lack courage; it lacks political grounding for the making of consistent foreign policy. This is what terrorists are banking on because their attack is not by means of nuclear destruction, but on the American political psyche. Terrorists have studied America's reaction to acts of terrorism before Iran, Beirut, Somalia, etc. and they know that political resolve is our weakness. And, what is the greatest way to attack the psyche in America, through a spectacular attack on television, giving people the image of horror that will remain with them for life.
If we would pull out of several minor conflicts in the past 20 years because less than 100 citizens died in those incidents combined, why would we not become politically inconsistent and abandon Israel and the Persian Gulf with the death of 5,000 on Sept. 11?
The waging of this war will not be in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan, but in the American mind, with every anthrax scare and suspicious person on an airplane. Will America be united mentally and politically? That is the great battlefield of this war.

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