"With Tunisia's revolution, Obama missed a chance to show the Arab world that he can live up to his lofty rhetoric. He must seize the next opportunity to portray America as a more sympathetic power - a country that sticks up for the little guy and does not tolerate repression." - Mohamad Bazzi
"Over a long academic career, I have researched and written about 21 American assassins, would-be assassins and domestic terrorists. It is pure nonsense to suggest, as some have,that the political environment has nothing to do with the actions of very disturbed individuals - as Jared L Loughner appears to be - who plan and attack political figures in public venues." - James W Clarke
In many ways we are a myopic society, good when tragedy strikes in our backyard, not so good when similar tragedies happen in some other country. The tragic events that happened in Tucson, Arizona has sobered us up, demanding that we treat each other with more respect. On the superficial level, the Republicans have been trying to keep the word "kill" out of their everyday legislative lexicon. It works for about an hour or so on the House floor, as Dana Milbank illustrates, but then some overzealous hotshot freshman gets up and can't contain themselves, or just lack the knowledge of self-restraint.
When American drones make a mistake and strike and kill innocent lives in the same amount of time it took to shoot 30 times from a Glock 9mm, we never question the circumstances or seek to change the parameters so that a tragedy like this will not happen again. Supposedly, we are trying to save Afghanistan from the Talibans, though how our mission changed from finding Osama bin Laden and fighting the few al Qaeda fighters there, remains a modern bureaucratic mystery. But, we know nothing about the cultures of the Afghan people, little of its history, and even less about its present beyond a few stories that have been reported in the news. In essence, we don't really care about the Afghanis and are apathetic over their fate.
Every day there are stories reported on suicide bombings and people being killed and maimed, enough that the booming Iraqi prosthetics market should do quite well in Pakistan and Afghanistan for years to come... Yet, we care more about what programs are on television that night than confronting our failures in waging a civil war. It's another element that adds to the suicide rate of our soldiers who have returned and find it too hard to readjust.
Our new friendships with these countries is based on fortifying their military and police, which ends up weakening the civilian governments. In Pakistan, even the old military dictator Pervez Musharraf feels comfortable enough to move back home. Maybe he sent Baby Doc a postcard and inspired his return to Haiti... We are worried that some terrorist group will get their hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, yet we also let them buy upgraded nuclear technology, enough for them to resell watered down versions of it on the black market. Ultimately, it is our apathy that lets the Pentagon run amok, allows hiring mercenaries to do the killing we won't do ourselves, and end up alienating the people we have sworn to protect. We talk the talk of democracy, but when it comes down to it, we still support dictators who use their police to suppress the rights of their citizens, and it looks like some of those citizens have gotten tired waiting for us, and have gone ahead to create their own democracies, thank you.
I see no hope in the near future, until we stop this so-called war on terror, which has done more to create terrorists and spawned a new industry of terrorist related weapons and munitions. If we can't find one 6 foot 7 inch old Saudi that was once on kidney dialysis who likes to hide out in caves, then how are we ever going to stop the pirates once they start franchising out around the world? We allow the most vicious drug wars to happen along our borders, yet deny citizenship to immigrants and their children who have been living here for over 30 years, content on finding way to send them back or deny them health services, while letting their governments buy more guns and drones, and we are the buyers of those drugs in the first place...
Perhaps the Mayan calendar isn't really meant for general consumption, witness the many theories why it stops in 2012. I've been thinking about this ever since I read the scientific predictions of a winter super-storm that might develop over California, and end up drowning half of the state. Somehow, this reminds me of predictions of earthquake tremors so violent that half of the state would crack off along the fault-lines and sail off into the Pacific. At that time specific dates were given, and we had surfers lining up along the beaches, waiting for those bitchin' monster waves... No, the Mayan calendar, produced by shamans of their day, is a political document meant for the leaders of our time. Maybe Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution will prove that you don't need a lot of police and military to create and protect a democracy, and it will spread throughout the Middle East first, then on around the world. The year 2012 could men the end of the political city-state and the mechanisms used to prop up the poor thing, instead we will have true democracies created by each country's citizens. Oh, you may say that I am a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...