Thursday, November 22, 2001


Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful. Thanks for asking.

One of the people there was out of the country on 9/11. Sofia, Bulgaria, to be exact. It was interesting to hear about the real reaction of people outside the US. The reaction, along with shock and horror: "This never would have happened if Clinton were still President."

That's an opinion you'll never see from the American press. Why would somebody say that?

A Brief Digression on Witchcraft

I saw one of those eternal low budget "look at the funny people" cable TV specials that was talking about Witchcraft. Not the "kinder, gentler" Wiccan variety -- the wild variety. Somebody had found a tribe in Africa where there was no such thing as a "natural" death. Every death is caused by a Witch, who has to be caught and punished. Usually, the punishment was paying a small to medium sized fine to the estate of the deceased. Nobody was burned at the stake, despite what that would have done to the ratings.

In a conversation with the village "witch hunter", the reporter mentioned a person who had recently died of appendicitis. The "witch hunter" agreed that the person had, in fact, died of appendicitis. "But why did he die now?" In his worldview, a death couldn't just happen, it had to be caused.

Back to the Topic

I bring this up as a warning. We don't know why 9/11 happened as it did. We'll probably never know why it happened during the Bush administration instead of the Clinton administration. I don't expect to see Usama bin Laden on Geraldo, or even in an orange jumpsuit and leg irons, explaining why he did what he did.

But we can guess.

If you read the foreign press at all, you surely noticed that Europeans were appalled by Georgie Bush. From his booze, drug, and sex filled early years to his shady financial dealings to his enthusiastic use of the death penalty, he symbolized all that was wrong with America.

When he got into office, things only got worse. He tossed a couple of treaties that the Clinton administration had worked very hard on and made things clear in general that the US was in it for our own interests, and we didn't really care what anybody else thought.

Clinton, whatever his other failings, talked to people. Bush, whatever his other virtues, didn't.

We're trying to fix that now. Colin Powell is doing a quite reasonable job of coalition building, even to the point of getting some minimal support from Iran. (The Taliban massacred a bunch of Shi'ite Muslims, including the entire Iranian trade delegation. Iran was not pleased.)

It's a definite possibility that it was the Bush administration's arrogance that pushed bin Laden's attention from one of his main goals (getting US military forces off of the Arabian peninsula) to symbols of American power.

Did We Learn Anything?

Some things that we should learn:

  • It's a big world out there. The US is a major player, but we can't control the whole thing.
  • We're grownups now. We have to behave responsibly. We can't ignore other's concerns, even if we don't understand them.
  • We have a lot of friends that we didn't know we had. We should spend more time and effort on them.
  • We have been spending $30 billion per year (estimated, of course) on an "intelligence" system that is pretty thoroughly useless. Would it be possible to fire the whole CIA? (No, Georgie's daddy used to run the CIA. Can't do anything to imply that it's not perfect.)
  • A modern society is, physically, very delicate. We simply cannot tolerate those would destroy it if we want to survive. "National sovereignty" will have to bow to survival.
  • Our energy supplies are in the hands of a bunch of slimeballs whose politics, ethics,and religion are stuck in the fourteenth century. Fixing this going to take far more than just digging up a wildlife refuge. We'd only get about 3 months extra supply that way.

We'll see.

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