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Terrorism's Thin Skin & How To Toughen It With Vigilance

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1214 D AYS,--New York, NY, Saturday, January 8, 2005--Terrorism has thin skin. Over time, it can easily blister and rub raw the nerves of a nation seeking to pull its foot out of the bear trap of war and destruction. Vigilance can cure this ailment.

The current Senate hearings to confirm the U.S. Attorney nominee Alberto Gonzales attacked the candidate's stand on torturing prisoners, suggesting that as the White House counsel he drafted opinions allowing interrogation techniques that fell outside the Geneva Convention parameters.

Current Senate hearings are attacking Bush's choice of Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General

Politics are at play in the confirmation hearings as efforts by the Democratic Party to discredit the Bush Administration rub at the Administration's War On Terrorism, attempting to cast a pall on the moral and ethical nature of its purpose and operation.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Critics of the War On Terrorism grow daily as more and more Americans die daily in Iraq coupled with other impending world events that rise up to capture headlines such as the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia that has claimed nearly 150,000 lives to date.

Then there are domestic issues about the health of the U.S. economy and the demands for its infrastructure to be shored state by state.

After enough water drips on the rock, a hole is created. Such is the case with Terrorism, for slowly the American public tires of hearing and seeing the words Terrorism, as one might tire of hearing someone yelling "There's going to be a fire, so get ready" in a crowded theater over and over and over.

Each American death in Iraq adds to the growing rawness of the word Terrorism, as does the current headlines about the trail of the soldiers charged with abusing prisoners.

This isn't to discount the importance of the War On Terrorism, but it does suggest that the rhetoric used to underscore the struggle between America and the threats to its current and future safety and security are numbing the eardrums of Americans.

A great deal of the growing disconcert for Terrorism is due to the lack of any attack following Nine Eleven by foreign elements on American soil. If there is one singular tribute to the value of the War On Terrorism, it is that in more than 1100 days since the terrorists flew planes into the heartland of America, not a single death on American soil by the hands of Terrorists can be attributed.

Still, the importance of the word Terrorism wanes. On the Richter Scale, the word no longer makes the hair on people's neck stiffen, or causes them to clutch their children.

There is a danger in the Complacency of Terrorism sliding into the lexicon. When the dangers of it don't stick out of the crowd, the people who once abhorred its presence may forget its true insidious nature and begin to decry those policies and efforts that caused them to be safe in the first place.

Complacency is like the town firing a tough sheriff after he does his job

It is like the tough sheriff who is hired to clean up a town run by bullies and when he does his job, the town fires him and installs a storekeeper as sheriff because they don't "need him" anymore. Or, similar to Winston Churchill who rallied England and the Allies to thwart the German invasion and was hailed as a war-hero leader, was brutally defeated in reelection following the war. People forget twice as fast as they remember.

This makes Terrorism a thin issue that can rub raw the nerves of a nation desirous of bringing back their sons and daughters and loved ones and tiring of trying to help those who may appear to many to be so confused that any help can't solve their dilemma.

That's why we need to change our thinking about Terrorism.

In the vernacular of both politics and practical applications of anti-Terrorism tools and ideologies, the War On Terrorism needs to be revamped into the Acts of Vigilance.

An Act of Vigilance is a positive factor that carries with it a lofty overture that few can chide, for Vigilance is almost ecumenical in nature. It covers a vast range of elements, bridging the gap between left and right, pro and con, because anyone who is not Vigilant is Complacent.

On the converse, one who isn't in favor of a War On Terrorism may find a large number of "Anti-War" supporters who consider the mere word "war" an assault on human decency and dignity that leads to the corruption of human morals. Evidence for those forces are the trials currently underway for the abuse of prisoners in Iraq by American troops, who, in the eyes of war critics, became the Beast of Terror they alleged to protect the world from his wrath.

However, Americans looking at the trials from a Vigilance viewpoint see them as Acts of Vigilance--a deep concern by the nation to right all wrongs, and to broadcast to the world that individual behavior does not reflect the moral fiber of a nation that abhors the abuse of individual rights as reasserted by Alberto Gonzales.

I believe it is time for America to assume the role as a Global Sentinel of Vigilance rather than a Global Anti-Terrorism Force. The difference between the two positions is vast. One suggests America walks loudly and carries a big stick, while the other goes back to old saw: "Walk softly and carry a big stick."

Vigilance is the act of walking softly. It is keeping an eye peeled for any ripple in the waters that may stimulate or encourage the expansion of Terrorism. It is like the Swiss Guard that protects the Pope--elegant in nature but deadly in impact.

Vigilance is also all inclusive regarding a society and the world, while war is limited and creates backlash and revulsion. Few can claim that a Nation of Vigilance is anything but good, for its underpinnings are to protect the children and the children's children's children. It does not seek to create violence, it stops it before it has the chance to occur.

War also has an endpoint while Vigilance does not. War cannot continue to grow. It has to end. There must come a time when the bullets and bombs and bloodshed stops. This can take the form of victory, defeat or retreat.

Vigilance, however, is endless. There are no limits or boundaries to Vigilance because it seeks to be proactive rather than reactive. War, ultimately, is a reaction to the lack of Vigilance. Had the world been Vigilant about Saddam Hussein it would not have allowed him to develop a society based on tyranny and oppression that posed a threat to the security of all nations.

Shifting America's stance in the world from Warrior's against Terrorism to Sentinel's of Vigilance is a major......yet necessary change

In this, the 1100th day cycle of post Nine Eleven, we as a nation need to consider the reevaluation of our anti-Terrorism lexicon.

Shifting America's stance in the world from the Warriors Against Terrorism to the Sentinels of Vigilance is a major one. It means that every theme from the White House and Pentagon needs to promote America's role as a Sentinel of Vigilance. It also means that America needs to call upon other nations to become Sentinels of Vigilance so that America's position is not one of lording over the world, but seeking to embrace it.

In all aspects of domestic policy, America needs to utilize the similar tactic of being a Sentinel of Vigilance. Policies formed to grow America internally need to be Vigilance policies. The battle for tort reform can be an act of Vigilance against the Terror of our courts being crippled by frivolous litigious attacks that gnaw at the marrow of American jurisprudence.

Educational Vigilance needs to protect children from being "left behind" by school programs that are under budgeted. Corporate Vigilance needs to be reinforced to assure the public's confidence in business is not corrupted by the acts of a few.

Vigilance is not just about the war in Iraq. Potential violations of the rights of this nation to maintain its prosperity are potential Terrorism acts that need to be dealt with by the Sentinels of Vigilance.

While Terrorism wears thin, the need for Vigilance grows thick.

America, it is time to become a Sentinel of Vigilance from the White House downward.


Go To January 5 Story: "Why The Tsunami Animals Know More Than Human Beings"


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