Skin & How To Toughen It With Vigilance
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
America's stance in the world from Warrior's against Terrorism
to Sentinel's of Vigilance is a major......yet necessary
In this, the 1100th day cycle of post Nine Eleven,
we as a nation need to consider the reevaluation of our anti-Terrorism
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
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
America, it is time to become a Sentinel of Vigilance
from the White House downward.
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