THE VigilanceVoice  


December 20—Wednesday—Ground Zero Plus 100
“Let Me Victorious Or My Attempt Glorious!"
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        I didn’t think about the Olympic Games in relation to fighting Terrorism. until Joe reminded me that “victory” was not as important as its “glorious attempt.”
        Joe is my “credibility source” for issues on Terrorism.  He is a former Israeli Army intelligence officer who fought Terrorism in all cracks and crevices of his country.   He has coffee each morning at the same Starbuck’s I do--Astor Place in the East Village. 
            We exchange viewpoints—mostly his to mine since I am a neophyte to the problems of the Middle East.  I nod a lot.   Occasionally, I’ll interject my experience in Vietnam, which he usually brushes off as non-sequiter to the current problems the world faces.
            I asked him what he thought of the fact we hadn’t yet caught bin Laden.   The answer came as a surprise to me, but one that enriched my awareness of the United States being on the right track.

            “The victory isn’t important, Cliff,” he said sternly, much like the teacher to a student.  “America is showing the world that hunting down Terrorists at all costs is winning the war on Terrorism.  It’s a psychological war.  Whether we find bin Laden or not isn’t as important as setting an example for all nations to follow.   They must also rise up in arms against them.  America is showing them how to do it.”
            He told me about an article in the paper he was reading that served, in his opinion, as evidence America was winning the war the right way.
            “It was just a small article, but it jumped off the page at me,” Joe said.  “Yemen sent its special forces to attack a village known to harbor al-Qaeda.   Yemen is bin Laden’s homeland.  They would never have done that before the U.S. stepped in to fight Terrorism.  The courage to eradicate Terrorism is becoming contagious,” he said.   “Other nations will follow Yemen’s lead.”  He paused and looked up at me.  It’s the message America is giving the world that is important, Cliff.  It’s not whether bin Laden is caught or not; it’s the precedent that matters.”
            Joe took a swig of coffee.  He has curly, graying hair, and the face of an interrogator.  His jaw is usually set, and the furrows on his brow look like they were etched there in concrete.  His blue eyes pierce as he talks, stabbing exclamation points to what he says.    I had a feeling Joe had done more than his share of prying out information from reluctant prisoners.
            “Other nations will rise up and fight Terrorism just like America is doing,” he said firmly.  “Terrorists anywhere in the world won’t feel comfortable sitting in a cave or a building making bombs or brewing deadly chemicals.   They’ll have trouble recruiting new followers because  if they join they’ll be hunted down as never before—and shown little to no mercy if caught.    No, Cliff, catching bin Laden is not the strategy….it’s the tactic…but not the strategy.  America is fighting fire with fire.  It’s using intimidation and fear…driving it into the hearts of Terrorists all over the world.  The message is:  You have no place to hide!  We’ll find you!  We’ll eliminate you!   That is the best strategy, Cliff.  Bin Laden is nothing but a target—he’s not the bulls eye!”
            I liked Joe’s bluntness.   He hammered the points into my mind.   It made so much sense.  Terrorism used fear, intimidation and complacency to breed its poisons.   America was indeed fighting fire with fire by continuing its relentless attacks and posturing itself to the world that it would not only hunt down bin Laden, but any person or nation that harbored or supported Terrorism.   It was a global posture.   Much bigger than I had given it credit.
            “It’s a battle of psychology, don’t forget, Cliff.   Either they intimidate us, or we intimidate them.   The message is the key.  America’s message is ‘we’re going to hunt you down with our last breath and destroy you.’  That’s a fine message.  It will go down in history.  No one before has taken Terrorism by the tail and slung it up against the wall.   Now, America is doing it.  Be proud of the strategy, Cliff.”
            I thought about what Joe was saying as I jumped on the “N” train to go uptown to Columbus Circle where I needed to get some parts for my daughter’s computer, and to hunt down a Winnie The Poo computer keyboard for her two children.
            I thought long and hard about what Joe was saying.   I had been measuring the success of our efforts in Afghanistan on whether or not we found bin Laden.  If we did, it was victory.  If we didn’t, it was defeat.   Part of me, I suppose, was still angry that the victory in Vietnam had never been recognized.   Perhaps I wanted to feel the lack of finding and killing bin Laden would represent another Vietnam.  It was a childish thought, but one I faced.   Vietnam’s victory, to me, had been the liberation of all the Vietnamese who had escaped, and were now returning to bring advanced technology and systems to their country
            I had even taken my share of pot shots at America’s inability to find bin Laden.   My black and white attitude was in error, thanks to Joe’s input.
            The Olympics helped put everything in focus.  Our younger daughter had been in Olympic Training since she was ten years old in Laguna Niguel, California, where we lived for many years until coming to New York City two years ago this December.    Mary Rand Toomey, winner of five Olympic Medals, and her husband Bill, decathlon Gold Medalist, plus many other former Olympians (including Bob Mathias) happened to live in the area.   Our children were fortunate to have them help train them in athletic competition.
            I had forgotten what Mary Toomey said to me once about competing in the Olympics.  “Our goal was to be victorious or our attempt glorious!,” she exclaimed.
            I thought hard about what America was doing.  It was fighting, in a way, an Olympic battle against Terrorism.  It was using the strategy, “Let me be Victorious or my attempt Glorious!”
            With Joe’s help, whether we found bin Laden or not didn’t really matter.  What really mattered was how we competed.   By setting an example for the world, we were pulling the plugs on those governments that had been intimidated by Terrorism.   We also were sending a message to any Terrorist or would-be Terrorist in the world—that we would not stop hunting them down and destroying them and those who gave them shelter.  We were stripping Terrorism naked. 
           And, if we look hard enough, we might see a tall naked man with a turban running from country to country, exposed for what he is.   That may well be the greatest victory after all is said and done


Go To --Dec. 19--Insuring Yourself Against Terrorism

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