Article Overview:   The headlines this morning talk about the sanctioning of killing Yasir Arafat.   Should we support the execution of a known Terrorist?    Will the killing of Arafat, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden decrease Terrorism or expand it?  What will it do to us who support revenge?   Will embracing the death of another be a positive or negative impact on our children?


Monday--September 15, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 733
"To Kill Or Not Kill Yasir Arafat, That Is The Question"
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Sep 15, 2003-- I get a bit nervous when the world juggles the right to kill in the court of public opinion.

      This morning I was hit in the face with a NY Times headline:       

                                                  SHARON AIDE SAYS ISRAEL IS
                                                 CONSIDERING KILLING ARAFAT

       The Times' story told about how 2,000 loyal supports of Arafat danced and sang in his battered compound where he has been held hostage for the past year and a half as Israel seeks to limit the Palestinian leader's power.
        He exists in his own Death Row, with Israeli guns aimed at him 24 hours a day.
        The United States is opposed to the proposed execution of Arafat.
        Israel's moral decision justifying killing Arafat is equal to their retaliation policy against suicide bombers.    The Jewish state quickly strikes, and often kills, leaders who order attacks.

Ehud Olmert, vice prime minister of Israel sees Arafat's killing no different than the killing of any Terrorist

      "In my eyes, from a moral point of view, this is no different than the eliminations of others who were involved in activating acts of terror, vice prime minister Ehud Olmert told Israel radio.
        Besides the threat of death, exile is another option.   Either removing Arafat from his compound to exile or cutting off all communications to his West Bank office are options on the table.
        In a telephone interview from Baghdad with Fox News, Secretary of State Colin Powell said:  "The Untied States does not support the elimination of him or the exile of Mr. Arafat."
         At the same time, the U.S. had "Dead or Alive" posters plastered throughout the world for the heads of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
          Assassination of leaders who support Terrorism seems to be the current issue.   If we oppose "eliminating" Arafat, how can we support "eliminating" Saddam or Osama?
          To Americans who fear the threat of future Terrorism, or, who seek revenge against those who have issued violence or supported it against the U.S., "eliminating" such Beasts of Terror seems to be acceptable.    But Arafat is different.
          There is no direct link to Palestine's acts of violence against Israel and any direct threat by him to the United States.   
           Offing Arafat doesn't fit in our moral locker since he's targeting people from another country, not our own.
          If we could or did link his power to acts of Terror in the United States, would we be so quick to deny Israel the right to eliminate him?

One side of the moral issue believes in an eye-for-an eye.........

         The moral issue is a hot potato for sure.   On one side stands the eye-for-the-eye group, and the other side houses the forgiveness group who decry violence to resolve violence.
          I'm more concerned about how to explain the public decision to kill or not kill Arafat to my grandchildren, or, to any child.
          The Beast of Terror grows stronger each time we warp life's values.   Killing others, except in self-defense, opens the door to the "right to kill."

.......and the other side believes in forgiveness and non-violence

           In my own case, I am a "trained killer."   When I joined the U.S. Marine Corps, I elected to learn to kill others.  Killing became my primary mission.   My specific job as a U.S. Marine Combat Correspondent was shadowed by the primary job--"killing."    All Marines, even clerks and cooks, are first rifleman who chose to kill first and then cook or type.   Even the Chaplin's assistant is "locked and loaded."
          Part of me has a total understanding of the "right to kill."    Part of me wouldn't blink an eye were Arafat to be suddenly eliminated from the face of the earth.   I have no question in my mind he has and probably still does, direct the Terror war against Israel.   
          Similarly, I have no doubt Saddam Hussein was a cog in the wheel of the Terrorist attack against the U.S.    In law, being part of a conspiracy puts you in the guilty box even if your finger wasn't on the trigger.
           But, there is another part of me that recoils from the sanctioning of executions.    Even the death warrants issued against Saddam and Osama bother me.    I find it impossible to look my grandchildren in the eye and tell them it is right to kill someone because they killed someone.
           That tells my grandchildren that if someone is "mean" or "cruel" to them, they have the right to be "mean" and "cruel" back.   It fosters Terrorism to battle Terrorism.  It dilutes Vigilance.  

I was a trained killer in Vietnam

           As a "trained killer" I find it hard sometimes to stop and think through acts of violence that seem like a sudden cure to the ills of humanity.   Parading Saddam's head through the streets of Baghdad might signal a moment of victory, but after the sun sets and the world of revenge tries to digest the blood of the victim, it finds no nutrients in its feast.
           Revenge and retribution have no end.
           Killing one enemy creates only another, or a nest of others, all seeking revenge to avenge the killing.
           In the movie series, Godfather, the Sicilian town of Vito Corleone is bare of young men.    They have been mostly all killed through the vendetta, the sons of the fathers, and grandsons of the fathers, and great grandsons of the fathers, killing in hopes to erase the source of violence.
          If violence in the Mid-East could be assured to end with the death of Arafat, I would be among the first to volunteer to take one life so that many others could be saved.
         But, I know the killing of Arafat will not reduce bloodshed but only increase it.
         Behind every Beast of Terror stands another Beast, and another and another.
         Starving the Beast is a much better strategy than thinking he can be killed.
         Revenge and retribution feed Terrorism.

Killing Arafat will only increase bloodshed
(Arafat in his compound in Ramallah)

        Terrorism, composed of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, grows stronger when we react to its elements.   Killing Arafat is nothing more than stirring the cauldron of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   It doesn't illuminate the Principles of Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and, most importantly, Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children.
         When I place a measuring stick up to the "elimination" of Arafat, I find myself impotent to justify his death as a Right Action That Benefits The Children's Children's Children.
          I choke trying to imagine answering my grandchildren's question:  "G-Pa, why did they kill Mr. Arafat?"
          The easy answer:  "Because he was a very bad man who supported killing others."
          "Hmmmm, does that mean if someone is mean or hurts us, we can be mean and hurt them to make ourselves feel better, G-Pa?"
           I see nothing healthy in justifying murder, execution or torture of those who subscribe to the Beast of Terror's constitution of violence.
           Exile, imprisonment, however, seems palatable.   For every action one takes there is a price.   Violence against others can only result in some debt that must be paid in some format.    Even righteous violence has a price.   I live with the faces of all those dead bodies from Vietnam--the innocent ones caught in the crossfire's of war as well as the enemy who had the same mission as I:  "kill or be killed."
           But I have a knowledge of the Beast of Terror not everyone understands.
           I've been in his belly.  I've been swallowed into his guts, chewed upon by his fangs, ripped by his claws.   I understand how easy it is to pull the trigger and kill without remorse, to feel the deadening of the soul, to sense the loss of my humanity, the evaporation of my innocence.
           To take the innocence from my grandchildren by justifying the killing of another would be, for me, an act of Terrorism.  To endorse the "elimination" of Arafat, or Saddam or Osama because they were "bad men" who hurt others and "deserved to die" would underscore to my grandchildren the "right to kill."
           It would promote revenge.  It would broadcast to my offspring's offspring they had the right to feed the Beast of Terror.  And, if I allowed them to think that, I would endanger them, for feeding the Beast of Terror is nothing more than putting one in a position to be eaten by that which one feeds.
           Instead, I must stand on higher ground than the Beast.   

I have the right to carry and use the Sword of Vigilance when The Beast threatens the life and security of my children and grandchildren

           I am forced to oppose the execution of Arafat, Saddam, Osama and all the Beasts of Terror who roam the world.   But I maintain the right to self-defense.   I have the duty to protect my children and their children from harm.  I have the right to carry the Sword of Vigilance and to use it when necessary to cripple or destroy the Beast when he threatens the life and security of my children.
          And that's the rub.
          There are those who see Arafat with a time bomb in his hands, handing those bombs to the suicide bombers, snipers and other militant extremists who consider their acts of violence not Terrorism, but acts of war.
          But unless I see Arafat with a weapon in his hand, aimed at some innocent, I cannot endorse hanging him in the public square, or sending in a squad of executioners with sniper rifles to fill his body full of holes.
          In life, I've sought revenge in many ways for the sufferings I believe were issued upon me by others.  Most of those acts of revenge were delivered in the form of resentments, retaliatory statements that hoped to make others feel bad for my belief they had harmed me emotionally by failing to meet my expectations, or for not supporting me in my hours of need.
          In each and every case where I have let my hatred, my anger, my resentments rule my life, I have suffered.   My life has diminished.   I have pulled the shadow of the Beast over my head, and lived in the darkness of my own Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
         Today, I struggle not to victimize myself by feeding my sense of personal violation.    Emotional Terrorists exist around us all--from the boss who doesn't pay us our worth, or the spouse who doesn't understand us as we think we should be understood, to the jerk who steals our parking place we have been diligently waiting for.
          All my angst, my ranting and raving, my chewing nails, my shouting, my silent screams, only bleed my Vigilance, drain me of the Courage to face my Fears, dilute my Conviction to deal with my Intimidation, and divert my attention from taking the Right Actions for future generations to wallowing in the Complacency that I am once more hung on the Cross to dry.

I have to STOP THOUGHT and not feed the Beast

           I have to STOP THOUGHT such reactions to life, and seek solutions to my issues that don't feed the Beast.
          Justifying killing Arafat would only be one more nail in my coffin as a human being.  It would mean I would be tacitly justifying killing to my grandchildren.  It would mean I would be endorsing not Vigilance but Terrorism, however legitimate it might appear on the surface.
          The world today sits in a dangerous seat.  It has death warrants around the globe, with rewards in the millions of dollars, for the heads of certain criminals.
          I can't endorse those warrants.
          But I can Pledge my Vigilance to stand up to the Beast of Terror.
          I can regurgitate my desire to seek revenge, to expunge all threats to the world by the "bad" and sit back with my conscience and feel proud I am standing up to my own Beast.

I can share with my grandchildren the importance of Vigilance

         Then, I can share with my grandchildren the importance not of killing or seeking revenge, but the importance of Vigilance, of building one's Courage, Conviction and Right Actions so that Beasts of Terror cannot cripple one into acts of violence as tools of revenge or retribution.
          To do this, I need to reread my Pledge of Vigilance, and remember my duty to future generations.
          Perhaps one day, the headlines in the NY Times will read: "World Leaders Sign Pledge Of Vigilance As Tool To Fight Terrorism."
          Maybe then, the Beast will be afraid.
          But today, the Beast dances in glee.  He loves headlines that promote what he stands for.

Sep 14--Martyrs of Vigilance--Why We Shouldn't Eat Our Children Of Vigilance

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