Posts Tagged ‘barack obama’

When Obama got Osama

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

There was a moment tonight as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death began to spread like wildfire and Wolf Blitzer and John King traded adjectives to mark the momentous, historic, memorable occasion that I was sorely tempted to break into a rendition of “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.” The thought made me giggle. The giggle made me snort. The snort made me cry.

I put out a few tweets on Twitter expressing my belief that while bin Laden’s death is an achievement, it does not end the global war against terrorism, and that I found it somewhat creepy that people were dancing around to celebrate a death.

And my tweet stream blew up.

I quickly realized that I was in a minority –that while most of my fellow Americans (at least those in my tweet stream) agree bin Laden’s death is not a complete end, most really saw nothing wrong with celebrating the death of another human being.

The fact that I found the death chants creepy unleashed a rather spirited debate with my fellow Tweeters.

I was harangued, unfollowed and insulted by several people who called me a few rather interesting names because I was unwilling to break into song over the death of a mass murderer.

Yes, bin Laden was evil. Yes, bin Laden had the blood of thousands on his hands. Yes, he cared nothing for the countless lives he destroyed with his plans for a better world. He was an evil man….a homicidal hatemonger who ranked up there with some of the nastiest men to walk this earth in the last 50 years.

But I didn’t dance when Milosevic died, I didn’t sing when Hussein was sent to the gallows, and I did not celebrate tonight.

Beside my unwillingness to mark bin Laden’s passing with either celebration or mourning he certainly doesn’t deserve from me, what bothered me most was celebration for a war that has not ended.

Global terrorism, with or without bin Laden, remains a security threat to nations around the world, especially the United States. Celebrating bin Laden’s death should not replace acknowledgement of the cold hard truth that the “war on terror” is far from over.  

One person tweeted: “Why can’t people take this moment to celebrate?” Another pointed out that the news made people happy and that the country needed some good news.

I began to feel like a cop pulling up outside a frat house to stop a party.

Bin Laden was more than just a figurehead – he was a battle-tested mujahidin with charisma and intelligence who served as an inspiration for thousands of young men around the world over the last few decades. His death is most certainly a major loss for Al Qaeda.

But the organization didn’t die tonight. There are cells, entire structures, in other parts of the world that operate independently, some within a series of Al Qaeda command levels and others outside them. They are unlikely to take the news of bin Laden’s death lightly…and neither should we.

War cry.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sometimes it’s funny what speaks to you. Not funny, ha ha. Just…odd.

In late 1993 it was a bridge.

Not just any bridge. The 16th century bridge in Mostar, a concrete victim of the wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia in a bloody mess that struck horror through the hearts of people around the world.

Why the bridge and not the scores of people dying? Honestly, I can’t quite say for sure.

When I traveled to Yugoslavia for the first of many visits in 1981 it was still Tito’s land. Sure the “great” man had passed the year before, but the ugliness that would consume Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia had yet to overwhelm the country. One of my fondest memories (keeping in mind I was all of 10 years old at the time) was sitting near the Mostar bridge after an adventure in a restaurant bathroom that ended with my mother’s wet shoe. She had slip-stepped into “the hole” during a desperate bid to outrun the water cascading down the walls. (If you don’t know what I mean? Two words: Turkish toilet.) That memory still makes me smile.

When the Bosnian War claimed the Mostar bridge over a decade later, I was incensed. I was also still young, passionate and naïve. So I took action.

I hand-wrote a petition to then U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton begging him to take action to stop the carnage. I begged (forced) friends and family to sign my letter (I think the final count was 33 signatories). And then I faxed it off to the White House from the office of a local congressman.

I haven’t thought about that youthful adventure with the White House in years.

But last night, as our current President Barack Obama invoked the memories of the Bosnian War and the human costs of delayed and, in some very memorable cases, ineffective action (think: Srebrenica)  I found myself nodding at the television screen.

Obama said:

As President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action

 

And I agree. All these years later I still believe that people of good conscience have a duty to their fellow man to intercede when possible to prevent atrocities or human rights abuses on a major scale.

At the same time, I find it galling that this standard of intervention is applied by the international community selectively. What about Iran? What about Burma? Or North Korea? If we look back over the 15-plus years since the end of the Bosnian War how many dozens of examples could we find of governments brutally repressing the aspirations of their people without really trying all that hard?

As it happened I wasn’t the only one thinking it. @TechSurgeons and I began a short conversation on Obama’s Libya defense and I almost fell over when he tweeted:

@jterzieff I think “international community” just means France & wonder why he didn’t have a stronger reaction when Iran crushed its revolt.

So I guess the question is what is our standard for intervention? Because we need one folks, we really do. Do we need to intervene militarily every time a government calls out its troops to crush the people? Does the international community have the chutzpah to stand behind that every.single.time?

Is Libya our new standard? If yes, and it’s applied equitably around the globe, then – and only then – Mr. President, you have my support.

It scares me to say that. Violence almost always results in more violence. The deaths of so many innocents. Blood on all of our hands. But what’s the alternative?

If anyone has any ideas, I’ll gladly listen ….

Rogue’s Gallery

Monday, February 8th, 2010

If recent history is anything to go by, both traditional and new media are going to be flooded with verbiage on Sarah Palin’s appearance this weekend the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Love or hate the former-Alaska governor, only a fool would argue the lady doesn’t have an attention-grabbing public persona.

Her supporters believe this the real Mrs. Palin. An attractive do-it-all-modern mom who shoots from the hip, holds nothing back and brushes off emotional punches like a prizefighter.

Her detractors blast her as a manipulative and dangerous talking head that spews vitriol without checking her facts first.

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