America's Iron Fist Minus A Silk Glove
 America's Iron Fist Minus A Silk Glove--Why is "hard power" versus "soft power" a vital balance necessary to win the War on Terrorism?   Has America taken off the silk glove and bared the knuckles only of the Iron Fist in its battle with Terrorism?   Are we teaching our children that killing Terrorists is better than redeeming them?   What do Americans need to do to insure we don't become the Terrorists we seek to destroy?  


Wednesday--November 6
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 420
America's Iron Fist
Minus A Silk Glove

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 6 --One of America's historic principles has been to rule with an Iron Fist encased in a silk glove.   After defeating both Japan and Germany, we put away the Iron Fist and wore the silk glove to help both nations rebuild their shattered societies.  

        Our intentions were never to "kill the enemy," but rather to force them to "surrender."   There is a difference between fighting a war to win the loyalty of the people we defeat, and fighting a war to obliterate the enemy, to annihilate them.
        Our current battle with Terrorism is one of obliteration rather than conquest.   It appears our new policy is to "kill the enemy," not force them to surrender.   The recent CIA Predator attack that targeted the killing of al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen is an Iron Fist example of the absence of our historic "silk glove" strategy.
         This shift in American war policy sets a dangerous precedent.   Instead of the world viewing us a law enforcement nation, ready to free the oppressed and help reconstruct societies, we become a hammer driving nails into rocks.   Our glory is the decimation of enemies, not their resurrection or evolution.
         The recent killing of the al-Qaeda Terrorist leaders in Yemen frames America's policy against Terrorism in an grotesque portrait--"kill, kill, kill."      

Thomas E. Friedman

          Thomas E. Friedman, a foreign columnist for the New York Times, brought the issue of the silk glove and iron fist to light as I was reading his editorial comments titled "The American Idol."   He referred to the difference between "soft power" and "hard power."  Soft power is American idealism, he said, the idea that the future can bury the past, and that we can evolve beyond our flaws and build stronger character from our mistakes.   Soft power is symbolized, Friedman noted, by our Disneyland, movies, our Declaration of Independence, universities and the belief anyone can rise above himself or herself in a land of opportunity.
         On the obverse is "hard power."   Void of optimism, hard power is an iron fist, ruled by what Friedman referred to as Thomas Hobbes pessimism, which came to be represented in the Latin phrase:  homo homini lupus--every man is a wolf to every other man.
         Hard power, he says, plays off power politics, righteously recoiling from the world's demand that the silk glove be worn on the iron fist.  America's refusal to participate in the International Criminal Court, and its unilateral stance against the U.N. demand to negotiate peace with Iraq serve as signposts of the pessimism ossifying America's "stand alone" attitude, and, its use of arrogant power.

       Friedman, writing from Berlin, warned Americans that hard power politics is playing directly to the Terrorists' strategy of crippling America's image as a nation of compassion dominated by strength.
         He claims the Terrorists attacked not our "hard power" but our "soft power"--our symbols of optimism--the World Trade Center, a Bali disco, a diplomat in Jordan heading a U.S. aid mission..   He suggests that the real target of opportunity for Terrorism is our idealism, our open borders, our beacon of optimism, our desire to rise above ourselves.  By destroying the idealism of America, he proposes, and replacing it with pessimism, Terrorism wins the war.

        Friedman quoted a German official as saying, "Never forget that it was the combination of American hard power and soft power that defeated the Soviet Union, [Europe's] so-called realism is really a deep pessimism that came out of all our religious wars.  If you become like us, America will lose its very power and attraction for others--the reason that even people who hate you are attracted to you."
       Essentially, he was talking about the absence of the silk glove over the iron fist.   Pessimism suggests you never hit a man when he's down, you kick him, it's easier.  Optimism says when you knock a man down, you help him back to his feet, dust him off, and make him your friend.
       I agree with Friedman's premise.   Hard power alone is cleaving America from those who look upon us as the fortress of hope for a peaceful world.   But I am more concerned not with what the world thinks of us as much as I am what our children think of us.
      The true danger of  hard power, I believe, is the damage it creates in the minds of our children, and their children's children's children.  Teaching our children to fight Terrorism with Terrorism is counterproductive.   There is no evolution in such a strategy.
       Authorizing the CIA to "kill" Terrorists tells our children that the solution to threats is obliterating the enemy.   It incites the Columbine Syndrome, broadcasting to our malleable youth that destroying one's tormentors is the only effective way to resolve conflict.  
       Newton made it clear that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.   When we use hard power to destroy hard power we reach a stalemate.   Nothing grows out of the destruction.   There is no victory, for there are no seeds to plant in the bombed out craters.     

Planting seeds of Vigilance

       That's why I am committed to promoting the Pledge of Vigilance as the silk glove covering the Iron Fist.   Vigilance must be the seeds that we plant while fighting the battle against Terrorism.  If we don't have something to plant after we destroy our enemy, the war will have been fought for naught.  There will be only barren victory.  We will become the Terrorists who killed the Terrorists.  We will have scared our history.
        The Principles of Vigilance that I propose are not new.  They are the seeds of all societies who wish to rise above their Beasts of Terror, who believe the evolution of one's dreams can turn into realties.  I claim no authorship for them.   The Pledge and Principles of Vigilance belong to all the children of America and all the children of the world.  They always have.   They always will.

        Thomas Paine, in his Rights of Man, stated that the rights of "man" did not belong to any government, but to the people.  He ground into his readers such rights were divinely granted, and that none of us should ever be seduced into thinking such rights were gifts from man-made structures.  

        Thomas Jefferson furthered that thinking.   When Jefferson said, "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty," he wasn't taking about abdicating the responsibility for Liberty to government, but charging each mother, father, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew and citizen that duty to protect Liberty--the right to freedom for all--was an individual responsibility.   He was endorsing the Principles of Vigilance, and telling the world to take the Pledge of Vigilance not for their selfish sakes, but for the sake of their children's children's children.
       Vigilance is not about destroying the enemy.  It is about converting the enemy to an ally; it's about shifting the emphasis from "killing" to "growing."  
       The building blocks of Vigilance are Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.  They focus their power and purpose on doing what's right for the children's children's children.   Vigilance demands parental foresight.  It demands the use of "soft power," or idealism in concert with "hard power," pessimism.

     When one disciplines a child and uses "hard power" such as punishment for a child's bad behavior, if one stops there the child learns only a lesson in Terrorism.   The child learns the parent has "power" over them, and starts to think that world is a nail and to be successful one must become a hammer.

      But if a parent is Vigilant in the use of "hard power," he or she will instruct a child on the lesson of life that the child learns from the use of "hard power."   The lesson--the greater global reason beyond the use of "hard power,"--is the "soft power."  It instills in a child the idealism that the child can learn and grow from his or her mistakes.  It also broadcasts  the parent's love for the child is greater than his or her wish to Terrorize it.  Discipline has only be applied to allow the child to correct his or her behavior, not as an end in and of itself.
       Mathematically, Vigilance--(Courage - Fear) + (Conviction - Intimidation) + (Action - Complacency) = Vigilance!--is the plus that comes from the negatives of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  Economically, it is the profit that replaces the loss.  Politically, it is the alliance that results from the reparation.  Spiritually, it is the Hope that is born from Dismay.
       But when we do not talk about Vigilance as the goal, when we set policies of "eliminating" without "replacing" seeds of Hope in the bomb crater, we appear to have lost our sense of idealism.  We are looked upon as having vacated our idealism that we are acting to bolster prosperity for all, rather to stand victorious over the dead bodies of our enemies.

Bomb Crater

        Friedman is on point, I believe, in suggesting that our reaction to Terrorism is to close our shutters and turn off the beacon of optimism that is so attractive to people all over the world who search for limitless opportunity and freedom.   When we shut down our open borders, and turn the killing of the "enemy" over to the CIA, we cross from the light of Vigilance and enter the gloom of Terrorism.
       But despite Friedman's assessment of our homo homini lupus character, I am optimistic that Americans will rise above the belief that government is in charge of defeating Terrorism.  I believe they will stop being Complacent about who is truly in charge of winning the War on Terrorism.
       I believe that one day the American people will awaken as they did in 1776, and stop thinking about protecting themselves and start thinking about ensuring the protection of their children, and their children's children's children.   When citizens of a society see beyond the horizon, their vision clears.   When they see that Terrorism is about instilling in them Fear, Intimidation and Complacency rather than about blowing up things, they will realize the only real deterrent is Vigilance.    And, when they go a step farther into the idealism of Vigilance, they will see that with or without a bin Laden or a Saddam Hussein, Terrorism still exists.  It exists in how we see ourselves and the world.   It exists in the mirror when we think we see a loser, or a victim, or someone whose dreams have been dashed and has no alternative but to trudge through life with a cross on his or back, taking out his or anger on all who are near.  Or, worse yet, isolating into quiet states of depression.
       Recognizing the real threat of Terrorism, parents and citizens will see the Pledge of Vigilance, and the Principles of Vigilance as their constitutional protection against not only the Terrorization of their children, but also from their own Beasts of Terror who reside inside them, who tell them they aren't good enough, smart enough, rich enough, privileged enough, loved enough.   

      Terrorism is an inside not an outside disease.   The external manifestations of it take the forms of al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, or a Washington D.C. sniper, or a crime-ridden neighborhood.   Internal manifestations of it are locked in the reflection we see beaming back from the mirror, and what we think of our own future as individuals.  If they are grim and dim, Terrorism rules. But that image can be changed.   Anyone who looks into the mirror and sees the faces of the children of the world, and their right to more Vigilance than Terrorism, can shift the emphasis from themselves and their selfish concerns (realism, pessimism) to those that are unselfish, selfless concerns for the future of the children (optimism, idealism).    That's what the Pledge of Vigilance and Principles of Vigilance are all about.  They force us out of our righteous indignation.   They make us search for the idealism that has made America great.
      When Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Chinese, and all the global diversity of humankind look to the future for their children, there will be one common cry--Vigilance!   When that happens, Terrorism's death warrant will be issued.
      My goal is to do what I can to bring Vows of Vigilance to the doorsteps of Americans and the world.   Vigilance is the flack jacket used to counter Fear with Courage, to overcome Intimidation with Conviction, and to drive Complacency away with Right Actions.  And the fuel that drives one to be a Warrior of Vigilance is the idealism that we can make this world better for ourselves  and our children if we think and act in terms of what's right for the children's children's future.
      When a policy in the United States is being promoted, if it cannot stand up to the test:--How will this decision improve the safety and security of the children's children's children?--such a policy is nothing more than righteous Terrorism masked in good intentions.

        To be effective in our foreign and domestic policy, we must wear the Silk Glove of Vigilance over our Iron Fist.          

        You can put your silk glove on today.  
        Take the Pledge of Vigilance.   It will be the first step toward reinstating America as the Land of Vigilance!   
       And, please, never forget Jefferson's words:  "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty!



Nov 5--CIA Launches Killing War

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