Iron Fist Minus A Silk Glove--Why
is "hard power" versus "soft power" a vital balance necessary to win
the War on Terrorism? Has America taken off the silk glove
and bared the knuckles only of the Iron Fist in its battle with
Terrorism? Are we teaching our children that killing
Terrorists is better than redeeming them? What do
Americans need to do to insure we don't become the Terrorists we seek
Wednesday--November 6, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 420
America's Iron Fist
Minus A Silk Glove
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, Nov. 6 --One of America's historic principles has been to rule
with an Iron Fist encased in a silk glove. After defeating
both Japan and Germany, we put away the Iron Fist and wore the silk glove
to help both nations rebuild their shattered societies.
Our intentions were never to "kill the
enemy," but rather to force them to "surrender." There is a
difference between fighting a war to win the loyalty of the people we
defeat, and fighting a war to obliterate the enemy, to annihilate them.
Our current battle with Terrorism is
one of obliteration rather than conquest. It appears our new
policy is to "kill the enemy," not force them to surrender.
The recent CIA Predator attack that targeted the killing of al-Qaeda
leaders in Yemen is an Iron Fist example of the absence of our historic
"silk glove" strategy.
This shift in American war
policy sets a dangerous precedent. Instead of the world
viewing us a law enforcement nation, ready to free the oppressed and help
reconstruct societies, we become a hammer driving nails into rocks.
Our glory is the decimation of enemies, not their resurrection or evolution.
The recent killing of the
al-Qaeda Terrorist leaders in Yemen frames America's policy against
Terrorism in an grotesque portrait--"kill, kill, kill."
Thomas E. Friedman
Thomas E. Friedman, a foreign
columnist for the New York Times, brought the issue of the silk
glove and iron fist to light as I was reading his editorial comments
titled "The American Idol." He referred to the difference
between "soft power" and "hard power." Soft power is American
idealism, he said, the idea that the future can bury the past, and that we
can evolve beyond our flaws and build stronger character from our
mistakes. Soft power is symbolized, Friedman noted, by our
Disneyland, movies, our Declaration of Independence, universities and the
belief anyone can rise above himself or herself in a land of opportunity.
On the obverse is "hard power."
Void of optimism, hard power is an iron fist, ruled by what Friedman
referred to as Thomas Hobbes pessimism, which came to be represented in
the Latin phrase: homo homini lupus--every man is a wolf to every
Hard power, he says, plays off
power politics, righteously recoiling from the world's demand that the
silk glove be worn on the iron fist. America's refusal to
participate in the International Criminal Court, and its unilateral stance
against the U.N. demand to negotiate peace with Iraq serve as signposts of
the pessimism ossifying America's "stand alone" attitude, and, its use of
Friedman, writing from Berlin,
warned Americans that hard power politics is playing directly to the
Terrorists' strategy of crippling America's image as
a nation of compassion dominated by strength.
He claims the Terrorists
attacked not our "hard power" but our "soft power"--our symbols of optimism--the World Trade Center, a Bali disco, a
diplomat in Jordan heading a U.S. aid mission.. He suggests that the real
target of opportunity for Terrorism is our idealism, our open borders, our
beacon of optimism, our desire to rise above ourselves. By
destroying the idealism of America, he proposes, and replacing it with
pessimism, Terrorism wins the war.
Friedman quoted a German official as
saying, "Never forget that it was the combination of American hard power
and soft power that defeated the Soviet Union, [Europe's] so-called
realism is really a deep pessimism that came out of all our religious
wars. If you become like us, America will lose its very power and
attraction for others--the reason that even people who hate you are
attracted to you."
Essentially, he was talking about the absence of the
silk glove over the iron fist. Pessimism suggests you never
hit a man when he's down, you kick him, it's easier. Optimism says
when you knock a man down, you help him back to his feet, dust him off,
and make him your friend.
I agree with Friedman's premise.
Hard power alone is cleaving America from those who look upon us as the
fortress of hope for a peaceful world. But I am more concerned
not with what the world thinks of us as much as I am what our children
think of us.
The true danger of hard power, I believe,
is the damage it creates in the minds of our children, and their
children's children's children. Teaching our children to fight
Terrorism with Terrorism is counterproductive. There is no
evolution in such a strategy.
Authorizing the CIA to "kill" Terrorists
tells our children that the solution to threats is obliterating the enemy.
It incites the Columbine Syndrome, broadcasting to our malleable youth
that destroying one's tormentors is the only effective way to resolve
Newton made it clear that for every action
there is an equal and opposite reaction. When we use hard
power to destroy hard power we reach a stalemate. Nothing
grows out of the destruction. There is no victory, for there
are no seeds to plant in the bombed out craters.
Planting seeds of
That's why I am committed
to promoting the Pledge of Vigilance as the silk glove covering the Iron
Fist. Vigilance must be the seeds that we plant while fighting
the battle against Terrorism. If we don't have something to plant after we destroy our enemy, the
war will have been fought for naught. There will be only barren victory.
We will become the Terrorists who killed the Terrorists. We will
have scared our history.
The Principles of Vigilance that I propose
are not new. They are the seeds of all societies who wish to rise
above their Beasts of Terror, who believe the evolution of one's dreams
can turn into realties. I claim no authorship for them. The
Pledge and Principles of Vigilance belong
to all the children of America and all the children of the world.
They always have. They always will.
Thomas Paine, in his
Rights of Man, stated that the rights of "man" did not belong to
any government, but to the people. He ground into his readers such
rights were divinely granted, and that none of us should ever be seduced
into thinking such rights
were gifts from man-made structures.
Thomas Jefferson furthered that thinking.
When Jefferson said, "Eternal Vigilance is the price of Liberty,"
wasn't taking about abdicating the responsibility for Liberty to
government, but charging each mother, father, grandparent, uncle, aunt,
cousin, nephew and citizen that duty to protect Liberty--the right to freedom for all--was
an individual responsibility. He was endorsing the Principles
of Vigilance, and telling the world to take the Pledge of Vigilance not
for their selfish sakes, but for the sake of their children's children's
Vigilance is not about destroying the
enemy. It is about converting the enemy to an ally; it's about shifting the emphasis from "killing" to "growing."
The building blocks of Vigilance are Courage,
Conviction and Right Actions. They focus their power and purpose on doing what's right for the
children's children's children. Vigilance demands parental foresight.
It demands the use of "soft power," or idealism in concert with "hard
When one disciplines a child and uses
"hard power" such as punishment for a child's bad behavior, if one stops
there the child learns only a lesson in Terrorism. The child
learns the parent has "power" over them, and starts to think that world is
a nail and to be successful one must become a hammer.
But if a parent is Vigilant in the
use of "hard power," he or she will instruct a child on the lesson of life
that the child learns from the use of "hard power." The
lesson--the greater global reason beyond the use of "hard power,"--is the "soft power."
It instills in a child the idealism that the child can learn and grow from his or her mistakes.
It also broadcasts the parent's love for the child is greater than his or her wish
to Terrorize it. Discipline has only be applied to allow the child
to correct his or her behavior, not as an end in and of itself.
Mathematically, Vigilance--(Courage -
Vigilance!--is the plus that comes from the negatives
of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency. Economically, it is the
profit that replaces the loss. Politically, it is the alliance
that results from the reparation. Spiritually, it is the Hope that
is born from Dismay.
But when we do not talk about Vigilance as
the goal, when we set policies of "eliminating" without "replacing"
seeds of Hope in the bomb crater, we appear to have lost our sense of
idealism. We are looked upon as having vacated our idealism that we
are acting to bolster prosperity for all, rather to stand victorious over
the dead bodies of our enemies.
Friedman is on
point, I believe, in suggesting
that our reaction to Terrorism is to close our shutters and turn off the
beacon of optimism that is so attractive to people all over the world who
search for limitless opportunity and freedom. When we shut
down our open borders, and turn the killing of the "enemy" over to the
CIA, we cross from the light of Vigilance and enter the
gloom of Terrorism.
But despite Friedman's assessment of our
homo homini lupus character, I am optimistic that Americans will rise
above the belief that government is in charge of defeating Terrorism.
I believe they will stop being Complacent about who is truly in charge of
winning the War on Terrorism.
I believe that one day the American people
will awaken as they did in 1776, and stop thinking about protecting
themselves and start thinking about ensuring the protection of their
children, and their children's children's children. When
citizens of a society see beyond the horizon, their vision clears.
When they see that Terrorism is about instilling in them Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency rather than about blowing up things, they
will realize the only real deterrent is Vigilance. And,
when they go a step farther into the idealism of Vigilance, they will see
that with or without a bin Laden or a Saddam Hussein, Terrorism still
exists. It exists in how we see ourselves and the world.
It exists in the mirror when we think we see a loser, or a victim, or
someone whose dreams have been dashed and has no alternative but to trudge
through life with a cross on his or back, taking out his or anger on all
who are near. Or, worse yet, isolating into quiet states of
Recognizing the real threat of Terrorism,
parents and citizens will see the Pledge of Vigilance, and the Principles
of Vigilance as their constitutional
protection against not only the Terrorization of their children, but also from their own Beasts of Terror who
reside inside them, who tell them they aren't good enough, smart enough,
rich enough, privileged enough, loved enough.
Terrorism is an inside not an outside disease.
The external manifestations of it take the forms of al Qaeda and Saddam
Hussein, or a Washington D.C. sniper, or a crime-ridden neighborhood.
Internal manifestations of it are locked in the reflection we see beaming
back from the mirror, and what we think of our own future as individuals.
If they are grim and dim, Terrorism rules. But that image can be changed.
Anyone who looks into the mirror and sees the faces of the children of the
world, and their right to more Vigilance than Terrorism, can shift the
emphasis from themselves and their selfish concerns (realism, pessimism)
to those that are unselfish, selfless concerns for the future of the
children (optimism, idealism). That's what the Pledge of
Vigilance and Principles of Vigilance are all about. They force us
out of our righteous indignation. They make us search for the
idealism that has made America great.
When Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans,
Chinese, and all the global diversity of humankind look to the future for
their children, there will be one common cry--Vigilance! When
that happens, Terrorism's death warrant will be issued.
My goal is to do what I can to bring Vows of
Vigilance to the doorsteps of Americans and the world.
Vigilance is the flack jacket used to counter Fear with Courage, to
overcome Intimidation with Conviction, and to drive Complacency away with
Right Actions. And the fuel that drives one to be a Warrior of
Vigilance is the idealism that we can make this world better for ourselves
and our children if we think and act in terms of what's right for the
children's children's future.
When a policy in the United States is being
promoted, if it cannot stand up to the test:--How will this decision
improve the safety and security of the children's children's
children?--such a policy is nothing more than righteous Terrorism masked
in good intentions.
To be effective in
our foreign and domestic policy, we must wear the Silk Glove
of Vigilance over our Iron Fist.
You can put your silk
glove on today.
Take the Pledge of
Vigilance. It will be the first step toward reinstating
America as the Land of Vigilance!
And, please, never forget
Jefferson's words: "Eternal Vigilance is the price
Nov 5--CIA Launches
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved - a