The Caine & Able of Terrorism



September 30, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 383
The Cain & Able Of Iraq
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, September 30--Terrorism begins in a house divided.   Its most insidious wormhole is created when brothers smote brothers, sisters call each other "whores," or when the blood of the family turns vinegar in all its members' veins.
        Some call this the Cain & Able Syndrome.   It's as ancient as time itself.
        Any "house divided" cannibalizes itself.   It sucks its own marrow.   It eats its own children, or, at least their hope for peace and harmony from within.

      I found myself thinking about Cain and Able this morning as I scanned through the world's headlines.   In American newspapers, the big story is about Democratic leaders in Iraq challenging President Bush's foreign policy.  One Republican Senator called the comments from American lawmakers visiting Baghdad, "spokesmen for Iraq."  He attacked the visiting Democrats on the grounds they are opposing President Bush's foreign policy, which is to pressure Iraq into buckling to U.S. terms of unlimited arms inspection.
        However, in Pravda, the Russian newspaper reports the big news is about life-size cardboard policemen and police cars placed in strategic locations to scare off criminals or lawbreakers who might think the replicas are real. 

 English anti-war with Iraq rally in Hyde Park

Cardboard Police Car

      In England, the newspapers are talking about how American politicians are "politicizing" the "war on Iraq" in an attempt to garner votes.   The cleave driven between the two camps is "patriotism," with the Republicans questioning the "loyalty" of those who oppose President Bush's narrow policy of "unlimited arms inspection or else," and those who seek a "kinder, gentler, softer way of resolving the matter without bloodshed."
        No matter how you carve it, the rift between the "brothers and sisters" of the American political house is growing.   Two camps are being formed--those pro war, those anti-war.   
        Democratic congressman Jim McDermott of Washington State, one of the three Democrats visiting Iraq, accused President Bush of being willing to "mislead the American people" about whether the war was needed.   He and Democratic congressman David E Bonior of Michigan are promoting a policy that would fall short of President Bush's "all-inclusive" inspection of Iraq.

Representative McDermott in Iraq

       President Bush is seeking a full "strip-down, body cavity" search of Iraq's ability to manufacture "weapons of mass destruction."    Opponents to his "coercive approach," including Iraq, are seeking a more diplomatic agreement, one that would be conducted with respect to Iraq's sovereignty and dignity as a state.
       The conflict within the "house divided" is that one camp is siding with Iraq's demands to use diplomacy versus the Executive Branch's demands to use "threat of force" if Iraq does not comply.
       Twisted in the middle of this sandwich of policy opposition are the up-and-coming elections.    Democrats want to weaken the "war platform" of the Administration, and focus on domestic issues.   The Democrats feel they have a much better chance to win the mid-term elections if the U.S. public stops thinking about Iraq and turns its sights on the flailing economy, and the need for more social programs at home.
        But the name calling seems to be more important than what is right for America and the world.   No one is arguing what is right for the children, or the children's children's children.
        What appears to be the issue on the table is who will win the most votes in the impending elections.

        I thought of a child looking at our Congress and seeing countless factions calling each other names.   I thought about how a child might take see his or her parents arguing, name calling, demanding apologies, snubbing one another--and, how safe that child would feel about his or her parents protecting the house when all their attention was dedicated to "whose-right-why-I'm-right-of-course" behavior.
        Democracy has been called the "best of the worst forms of government," and while I grimace at that idea, I am left with the Complacency that it might be true.   However, my belief in Vigilance Rescue Heroes me.
        I believe that if the members of Congress and the Administration were to ask the common, non-political question--"What's right for the children's children's children?"--that the battle between Cain and Able would be thrown outside the immediate, selfish battles over the next vote.   

        As  a child, I grew up in a "house divided."   My parents fought constantly.  My grandparents fought.   Walking into the house was like walking into a minefield--at any moment one of the emotional booby traps might go off.   Eating dinner was like watching a tennis match played with hand grenades.  Looming over all the name calling and bickering was the dark threat of violence--of my father hitting my mother, of my mother egging on a fight, and then the horrible aftermath--the sickening sobs of the pained and anguished who saw their home broken one more time.   

        I see the battle in America today with the same kind of horror I witnessed my parents fighting as a child.   I see the selfishness of two parties so engaged in their righteousness that the real issue of the children sitting at the table witnessing the name calling is forgotten, neglected.    But children see.   Children hear.  Children know.
        And, most important, children feel.
        Leadership in a family or a nation requires respect for the children of that family or nation.
        As an adult, I vowed to not repeat the horrors of my own childhood.   My wife and I agreed to disagree in civil and mature ways.   We talked long and hard about the importance of showing our children a unified front, even though we might disagree on tactics, we agreed on strategy--the family came first.
         While we weren't perfect in our approach, we avoided the kind of childish, immature and Terrorizing antics being portrayed by our nation's political leaders in one of the most critical times in American history.
        America is changing its role as a world leader from that as an economic giant, to that of a giant policeman.   The world is watching us. 

        We are telling the world that someone needs to take the role of world disciplinarian, and President Bush has elected to strap on the six guns and pin the star of World Sheriff on America's chest.
        It's not unlike what Mayor Bloomberg has done in New York City.    

        Crime and violence in New York City schools has become untenable.  Bullies and Terrorists rule.   Recently, he took control of the Board of Education, stripping it of its former political powers and putting it directly under his control.    The school system is in a crisis, especially schools in marginalized neighborhoods.
        New York City has School Police who are supposed to maintain order in the school systems, but Mayor Bloomberg has gone a step further, and added "criminal" police support.   He's going to clean up the Terrorists who are infecting the future of the children.  He's going to make the schools "safe" for the future with strong-arm tactics.

       No one is criticizing what he is doing who really understands the problem.   A child who is raped in the hallways of a school, or beaten, or shot, provides prima facia evidence of the need to attack Terror with equal force.   Parents whose children go to school with bullet proof vests and cell phones locked on 911 are eager for their children's safety.  
        I find it difficult to believe the politicians of the 21st Century can't see the need for Terrorism to be treated the same way school Terrorists are being treated in New York City.    If someone doesn't clean up the halls of the world's Terrorists, then we all suffer. 
        I would have preferred that President Bush not question the loyalty of the Democrats to the national security of the United States.  That's way too big a vision for anyone to comprehend because we aren't quite sure what it means.  But had he questioned the loyalty of certain Democrats to the safety and security of the children of America, and to the world, his critics would have found it hard to lash back at him, for they would have been forced to ask the question:  "Who's going to keep the world safe for our children, and all the children's children's?"
      The United Nations isn't the source.  One of its resolutions disallows "regime changes."   And, no matter what language is used, the world knows the goal of an assault on Iraq is to remove Saddam Hussein from control of his country.   That leaves America virtually standing alone, with a few allies hesitating in the shadows.
       I would prefer the UN to take a more generational view of protecting a nation's sovereignty than putting up a shield around its leader.   Some parents are outright Terrorists.   Some would build a weapons manufacturing plant under a school or hospital, and use its citizens as shields against attack.   Some would even gas its dissidents, killing tens of thousands to settle disputes, as Hussein did against the Kurds.  

"Cain and Abel" by Chagall

        There is little question as the credentials of "fathership" that Saddam Hussein offers the world, and, frankly, that's not the real issue.   The real issue is how we, Americans, deal with our own home.    Do we fight at our kitchen table in front of our children?   Do we sling mud at each other and call each other names in hopes of creating Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in the weaker of the two?
        Are we the Cain and Able teaching our children how to divide their house when they grow older?
        Perhaps if my parents had taken the Pledge of Vigilance, and subscribed to its principle, my home would not have been one of division and derision.  
        I do believe we need a world Sheriff.   But I think the first priority is a appointing ourselves as the Sheriff of Vigilance, not the Sheriff of Cain and Able.
        Perhaps its time for the Democrats and Republicans to take Pledge of Vigilance, and then decide how they are going to make the world safer by building Courage instead of Fear, replacing Intimidation with Conviction, and taking Right Actions rather than the slinging Complacent name calling at one another.  

        And maybe even the Pledge of Allegiance should be revised:
       "I Pledge Allegiance to the Children's Children's Children of America, and to the Principles of Courage, Conviction and Right Action for which they stand--one nation, Under Vigilance, with liberty and justice for all."
       If this were the case, national disloyalty would be obvious rather than mud slinging politics.  And, the Congressmen in Iraq would not have visited the leaders of the nation, but would have spent all their time with the children there, and the children's parents before making comments that may ultimately haunt them.


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