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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

On Sunday, our country got news that all of us (IF we’re being honest) had all but given up hope of ever getting.

It’s been almost 10 years since the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11. Ten years, when we were all sickened and spellbound by the worst sneak attack since the one on Pearl Harbour that shoved us will-he/won’t-he into World War II. Ten years, when we all learned how to live with the grey undertone to our lives: fear, despair, hopelessness. It didn’t help that the pResident, George H. W. Bu$hit, urged us to go out and do retail therapy to help us get through the trauma. It also didn’t help that, 6 months into the “pursuit” of Osama bin Laden, the pResident basically shrugged his shoulders and offhandedly stated that he didn’t know where bin Laden was, and that he really didn’t care, either.

Well, we all know where bin Laden was NOW, don’t we? He was “hiding out” in Pakistan. In a million dollar compound. Just a mile or so up the road from the Pakistani version of West Point, in a town that has a 90+% occupancy of active-duty and retired military folks. So, gangers, where *DO* you hide a red fish? In a barrel full of red fish, of course – out in (mostly) plain sight.

Most people have forgotten that the international community had been looking for Osama bin Laden since the early 1990s. Remember the other events? He was being chased long before the 9/11 attacks for his role in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and the first attack on the World Trade Center. The fact that Bin Laden was hiding so close to the Pakistani capital and a short drive from Pakistani military headquarters has raised eyebrows among many, with some analysts wondering how the terrorist could've avoided the eyes of the Pakistani intelligence services. White House counterterror adviser John Brennan said during a news conference yesterday that we shouldn't forget that "Pakistan has been responsible for capturing and killing more terrorists inside of Pakistan than any country and it's by a wide margin and there have been many, many brave Pakistani soldiers, security officials, as well as citizens who have given their lives because of the terrorism scourge in that country."

Ok, so the Pakistanis have been a big help. I’m certainly not disputing that – BUT I (together with a lot of folks) find it really hard to believe that, in a military town (garrison town) with a huge military reservation and a high number of intelligence people, that nobody was even curious about the people that lived in the house? Sorry, folks, that dog won’t hunt.

We’re extraordinarily lucky in this country, because even at our poorest, we all make more money, eat better and live in better circumstances that our counterparts in the third-world countries. When your take-home salary is the equivalent of $25/weekly, and somebody offers you $1K a month to look the other way, under those circumstances, you take the money and keep your mouth shut. Of course, knowing that too much curiousity will also get you and your entire family killed makes the act an imperative. We don’t understand the concept of baksheesh in this country; we also don’t understand the cultural imperatives that drive 2nd and 3rd world countries. How could somebody from a wealthy, aristocratic background gain such a following?

Be that as it may, an anthropological OR a psychological discussion on this topic is something that I’m going to save for another time – just as I’ll save the finger-pointing and the disgusting amount of Republican gloating that waterboarding and other torture helped the President pull this operation off for another time. Today, I want to share a few things with you all that are joyful, happy things.

I woke up this morning feeling lighter than air. I know that assassinating Osama bin Laden isn’t going to cure the problems. I get that – but today, the sunshine is a lot brighter, and the air a lot clearer, and I don’t have the fear that I had when I got up on Sunday. I know that we’re still going to face ruthless fanatics who kill innocents for whatever excuse they want to give. Still, a great deal of fear is gone, and it’s not going to come back any time soon.

Rudyard Kipling said it best: “Lord God of hosts, be with us yet: Lest we forget, lest we forget."

NOW, maybe, we can get the hell OUT of Iraq and Afghanistan – and bring our troops HOME.

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