Friday -- April 5, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 206
The Global Sheriff Of Vigilance
"George Bush's Star & Six-Shooters!"
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
April 5--There's a new Sheriff in the Town of Terrorism.
He packs a mean six-shooter and a big silver star, and steps in to tame
the Wild Wild Middle East.
His name is Sheriff George W. Bush. He hails from Texas.
And, he's the President of the United States.
This story is written to salute him.
The one I wrote earlier this morning was to criticize him. The
earlier story illustrates my immaturity and trigger finger to blast a
fusillade of firepower at what I considered "American bullyism."
But, after talking for nearly two hours with my friend Joe, a former
Israeli intelligence officer, I rushed back to revise my own "gun
I can't say confirming my story with Joe was my
idea. I had called my wife who edits my work and asked her
what she thought about the story (which I have left in tact below so
readers can compare this story with my first one). She blasted
me with her six guns--telling me she thought it was "over the line."
That I would probably "piss off" a number of readers, and that she didn't
When I saw Joe at Starbucks this morning, I rushed over
to him and asked him the big question: "Did he think George Bush had
a right to intervene in Israel's right to fight Terrorism?"
"Absolutely," Joe responded. "Your
thesis is wrong, Cliff," he said, confirming my wife's concerns.
"Bush is right on target."
"But isn't what he's doing putting Israel in
jeopardy?" I prodded, trying to gain some support for my point that
interference with Israel and forcing a withdrawal would undermine the
power of Israel to defend its 5.9 million citizens from Palestinian
"Yes, it will," Joe calmly answered. "But
it is necessary. And Israel will survive."
That's when I pulled out my pen and paper and
began to take notes as Joe began to answer my probing question: "Why
do you support Bush's action that 'enough is enough?'"
It is easy to listen to Joe. He
laughs at the ignorance of Americans regarding the Middle East.
"You do not know the culture, Cliff. Or the
history. I will tell you what you need to know."
Joe took me on a whirlwind historical
tour of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He reached back
to 70A.D. when the Romans conquered Judea and ultimately banished
the Jews from their land. He went on with the history
lesson to explain in detail how what is now Palestine and the Israeli
state was a no man's land, a battle ground ravaged by the Crusaders,
and then ruled by the Turks as part of the Ottoman Empire, and then
finally in 1918 taken over by the British who ultimately took a ruler
and divided the country into the Jewish State of Israel in 1948.
"You look at the map, Cliff," Joe said, leaning forward
and lifting up his glasses so his blue, sharp eyes could penetrate mine.
"You will see how straight the divisions are.
carved by a straight-edged ruler. Little consideration was given to
who lived there, or how long, or their religion or ethnicity."
He informed me that Palestine was a name the
British came up with to anoint the new piece of real estate they divided
with a straight edge as part of the
League of Nations plan to return the land to the Jews after a 3,000 year
absence caused by the Romans banishing them from the area.
"Palestine did not exist prior to the 20th
Century," he said. "It was invented. A name grabbed out of the
I sat dumbfounded at my own ignorance.
I apologized to Joe. "Don't feel bad, most Americans have no
understanding of what's going on in the Middle East. Many Jews
don't either," he added.
I kept trying to interject my question into the history
did George Bush have the right to interfere with Israel's sovereign right
to fight Terrorism as it saw fit?" But each time Joe brushed
his hand in the air and said, "I'll get to that. But first you must
have some background."
He launched on a discussion of the peace proposal
by the Arab League. "They want Israel to absorb thousands of
refugees. We cannot do that. But I agree we must
recognize Palestine as a state. It needs its identity.
It's people need their Voice and a home."
Joe talked about the Palestinian "silent
majority". He said they are quite different than the U.S.'s
In America, the silent majority is too busy to vote or Voice political
dissent because it is busy buying things, and making money to pay for
things it has bought. In Palestine, the silent majority fears
death if it speaks out against the regime.
"One day, when the people rise up against military or
dictatorship, their Voices will seek peace not war with Israel. We
will live as neighbors then."
He went on to tell me that Palestinians are
disenfranchised from other nations. "They cannot become
citizens of another Arab nation. They are not welcome. They
know the Middle East is not their friend."
In relation to the Arab League's recent meeting and the spelling out of
solutions for the Mid-East crisis, Joe laughed. "They
want Israel to absorb the refugees. They know they cannot
crush Israel with military force, so they want us to be dissolved from
within ourselves. We are a sovereign state. No one can demand
we do anything unless we agree to it as a democracy."
He thought it humorous the Saudi's said they
would or might recognize Israel's existence as a state once Palestine was
given independence. "The world nods and thinks such a
statement is act of grace on their part," Joe spews. "Israel does
not need the endorsement of the Saudi's to be a free and independent
state. We are one. We exist because we fought for our right to
exist. No one gave us that right. We fought for it--we
He also chuckled at "Kiss of Terrorism,"
exchanged between the Saudis and Iraqis at the Arab League.
"People from the west misinterpreted that
embrace," he said. "When another is the guest of an Arab, he is
given the protection of the host's house. Enemies embrace,
kiss, and pretend to be brothers. But the Arab law states that once
one leaves the protection of the house, one can slit the other's throat if
one wants. Do not take stock in such a display. It
I didn't want to ask him if he had read my story: "Kiss of
Terrorism." I had also mistaken the embrace as a sign of
I was itching for the answer to my big question:
"Did Sheriff George Bush have the right to interfere with Israel's
sovereign right to fight Terrorism as it saw fit?" I pushed the
question at Joe again.
"Yes. He does have that right. He is
the Sheriff of Worldwide Terrorism. He can step into the
middle of a fight and drive both parties back to neutral corners."
"Why?" I asked dumbfounded by his earnest answer.
"Because there is no one else to serve as Sheriff," Joe
answered matter-of-factly. "There is no one else I would trust
to stand between the conflict."
"You mean that even though his interference in your
battle with the Palestinians means the weakening of Israel's position of
strength, you still support his action? You submit to his
Joe lifted his glasses again so his penetrating blue
eyes could be better heeded. "Yes. Israel has no intention of
waging a war against Terrorism other than around its borders.
America is the only nation, the only democracy with that power or will and
resources to do so. There is much at stake. Prior
to Bush's speech the stock market had dropped four consecutive days.
It rose the day of the speech. When Powell visits Israel next
week, he will surely stop by some of the Arab leaders to keep balance in
the region, to protect vital interests of the world's economy.
Israel comes second to balance. Bush is a smart man.
He has good advisors."
"But isn't Israel in danger?"
"Yes," Joe said solemnly. "But we have been in
danger since the day we reclaimed our land. Danger isn't
something new to us. We have fought hard for what we have.
We will not give it up. We have wandered the earth for many
centuries, been victims of the worst Terrorists in history, and we have
survived. We will survive this crisis too."
I sat back, amazed at the resolve of my Jewish
friend. He stated his opinion as though his tongue were made
of granite, and the words were carved on the tip.
"But isn't it correct that the Arab world wants one
state, an Arab state, and wants Israel obliterated?"
"That is absolutely correct," Joe endorsed.
"But," he added, "that won't happen. We took a marshy, swampy
land filled with empty desert and turned it--despite everyone's
belief--into a productive, viable democratic state. We
have reclaimed our heritage, recultivated our legacy. We
will not let anyone take it away. And, even if George
Bush chooses for the right reasons to not back Israel openly, I know he
will quietly. We are living proof democracy works in the
Middle East. This angers those who want to rule their lands
with an iron fist. But the future generations will grow to
realize Israel is an ally not an enemy. We may never agree
religiously or philosophically, but we can agree politically, that the
rights of the people overpower the rights of a dictator, a ruler.
George Bush knows this truth. So did all the previous leaders of
America, and the ones that will come."
"So you're happy with George Bush as Sheriff of
"Very happy," Joe said. "Very happy
"And you support a Palestinian State?"
"Absolutely. The people of Palestine need to have
a land they call their home. They need a government.
The Arab world has turned their backs on them except when they can be used
to breed anti-American or anti-Westernization attitudes. One
day, Palestine will be Israel's great ally. But that will take
I stood and shook Joe's hand. I realized as
a journalist I had leapt to some fast and hard conclusions about issues I
knew little about. I had called George W. a gunslinger, shot
at his right to interfere with another nation's fight. Joe had
set me straight.
I conceded to Joe's viewpoint. The
more I thought about what he said, the more I realized the need to look
deep into the principles of Vigilance.
Joe showed Courage, Conviction and Action. He had
the Courage to admit the need for global balance before any state's
rights. He had the Conviction to admit the statehood of Palestine
was a necessity. And, he had taken the Action to inform me in great
depth about my ignorance, and shed much light on the dark corners of my
I walked home to write this a little
prouder. I felt a sense of appreciation for President Bush
that I haven't felt since the events of September 11. He was
in charge. He could be "trusted." If Joe, whom I
consider to be as honest with his opinions as they come, lauded him, then
I, along with my wife who already does, could too.
Welcome, George Bush--as the Sheriff of
We offer you the Star of Vigilance, and a Six Shooter, filled with silver
bullets of Courage, Conviction, Action, and three blanks filled with Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency. Let the silver bullets hit the
heart of Terrorism, and the let blanks always remind you of the emptiness
Terrorism leaves in its wake.
(please read the story below, written
this morning prior to the above story. I reprint it so you can see
my "other view"--the less mature one!)
Friday -- April 5, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 206
The Never Ending War On Terrorism
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City,
April 5--Militaristically it is a dream--a never ending war!
Professional warriors salivate at the
thought--a war with enemies who are faceless, who have no land, who pop up
globally, and who strike the fear of Hell into every ounce of the
This scenario means endless budgets,
constant new weapons, top priority within the government, and, of course,
the ability to kill virtually unchecked all targets presumed to be, or
closely aligned with, the enemy.
with constant death" becomes an obsession among the
warriors. The taste of blood on one's lips becomes
sweet wine, urging its recipient to consume more and more.
It even produces jealousy and rage, much like a seductive
woman might who dances not only before the warrior in charge,
but also tantalizes all the other "lesser warriors"
whose mouths drool watching her serpentine movements.
When I saw President Bush last night
virtually "yelling" at Israel to stop fighting the Palestinians, I saw the
jealousy and rage of a warlord threatened by another who was trying to
edge his way between the thighs of Terrorism.
Whose war is Terrorism?
Does the United States have the sole
grip on fighting it? Are we in charge of the world's battle
against those forces that would threaten the safety and security of
another well-armed, well-trained nation that has been fighting Terrorism
since the dawn of its existence?
All I could think about was that Israel was
horning in on America's "right" to be the chief warlord over Terrorism and
President Bush stepped in and told them to "get out of the O.K. Corral!"
This showdown was "his" showdown. After all, President Bush is from
"Enough is enough" President Bush said in
his speech delivered yesterday in the Rose Garden where he announced he
would send Secretary of State Collin Powell to mediate peace talks between
Israel and Palestine. His reasoning is the Arab states are becoming
"destabilized," and pressures from America's long-time allies in the
Middle East, Jordan and Egypt, are concerned.
While Yasser Arafat accepted the
President's comments unconditionally, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
said on television that the weeklong military operation in the West Bank
would continue. "Negotiating before terror is subdued will only lead to
its continuation," he said.
I found it onerous that the United States
would inject its power to stop another nation's fight against Terrorism.
Not too many weeks ago we blasted the Taliban out of rule in Afghanistan
without a peep of protest from anyone--a task that Israel is trying to
achieve against Yasser Arafat.
"Enough is Enough!"
I wondered heavily about those words.
Were they spoken to keep the peace, or, to
maintain control over a never-ending war?
Power comes from might. If the sword is
shared in too many hands, no one is quite sure from whence the might is
issued. I wondered if President Bush was trying to assure the
world he was the only "Anti-Terrorism Sheriff" in town.
At what point does America's right to fight
Terrorism include stopping another nation from doing the same?
It seemed clear to me that the President's
decision to "weigh in" wasn't so much a matter of finding "peace" in the
Middle East as it was an attempt to placate the Arab leaders who straddle
the fence between the East and West--the Egypt's and Jordan's who love the
flow of money to their countries from oil and trade and tourism.
On the other hand, if Israel were to crush the
Palestinian Liberation Organization headed by Arafat, then who would be
the hero of the Middle East's fight against Terrorism? Would that
steal the thunder of America's role as "Terrorism Sheriff?"
I'm not necessarily an advocate of Israel's right
to take the land it confiscated from the Palestinians when it was formed
on the 14th of May, 1948 from a League of Nations mandate directed by the
British. It wasn't until 1950 that Israel proclaimed Jerusalem
its capital, setting off fiery disputes which still smolder over the right
of Israel to command the Holy Land.
I'm also not necessarily an advocate of the right
of the United States to rip the land from the Indians or Mexicans as we
swept across North America, staking our flag on soil that had belonged for
centuries to others as we expanded our "way of life" at the expense of
America's true owners.
But I'm not here to argue real estate rights.
I'm here to suggest that the fight against
Terrorism cannot be under a central governmental command.
I think it is a terrible precedent to set to make America the "Sheriff of
Terrorism!" It implies we know what we're doing--and we don't.
If we did, we would have killed Osama bin Laden a long time ago, and all
the ring leaders of Terrorism who hide behind the oil wells and natural
gas lines that we suckle as a nation of energy-consuming piglets.
on his six shooters and wagging his finger and saying, "Enough is enough,"
is oxymoronic. There are never enough people willing to
die to rid Terrorism from its insidious threat to a nation's children, and
their children's children.
But that's what President Bush did.
In my opinion, he said--"We're in charge of this
war. We will be the leaders of the War on Terrorism, whether
you like it or not."
This had to make the military leaders jump with
glee. What better mandate could the President give the
warriors of a global battle than to cut the legs off the most fierce
warriors of Terrorism--the Israelis.
The Jewish state has been fighting Terrorism for
fifty years. We have been butting heads with it for 206 days.
There seems to be a giant gap in credibility between our experience and
Israel's. But power and control often shadow experience and
Had President Bush not waited to attack Saddam
Hussein, and not sought to build a coalition of Arab support before
attacking him, he might not have compromised Israel's right to fight
Terrorism. But, compromise after compromise, Israel has been left
swinging by its neck. U.S. support has been pulled.
Terrorism in the Middle East has one big goal--to
get Israel out! The Jewish state represents a sore thumb on a
culture which refutes modern democracies, as well as competing religious
beliefs. The U.S. is aiding and abetting the Terrorists' goal
by swaggering into the battleground and demanding a stop to the fighting.
America's ability to wage war cannot be limited
by others who wage it. If America is in charge, then it
must show that power.
Instead of stepping into the battle between
Palestine and Israel, I would have opted for a preemptive strike against
Iraq. That would have been constructive, not destructive use of
It makes me wonder if the War on Terrorism isn't
much like the Vietnam War. Instead of acting with fierce
aggression against our enemy, we politicized the war, and tried to
negotiate a victory. Each day that passed, the quagmire
thickened as the gruel of compromise hardened. Eventually, we
lost our power to act.
It seems to me that Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency have crept into our policy of fighting the War on Terrorism.
Egypt and Jordan and other Arab states have injected these viruses into
the decisions made by the U.S. at the highest level.
Instead of becoming Parents of Vigilance, we have
become Caretakers of Terrorism. To think that Arafat will
honor any peace agreement is foolish. He never has and never will.
He is a Terrorist! But in relation to Saddam Hussein, he is
gnat on an elephant's ass. If we will not support the removal
of Arafat, what forces will keep us from removing Hussein?
The "never ending war" can not be won by
one country fighting Terrorism according to one set of rules.
The Pledge of Vigilance was not designed for just the "head of the family"
to take, but for each member of the family and extended family to embrace.
Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Cousins, Brothers, Sisters, Uncles, Aunts
and Loved Ones are the keys to stifling Terrorism. All, not a
few, will make the difference.
"Enough is enough."
Yes, perhaps it is time for America to stop
being in "charge" of fighting Terrorism, and instead, rally the world to
It can begin the process by focusing not on
Israel, but Iraq.
To April 4--Birthdays of Terrorism & Vigilance
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