Waiting, today, for whatever is going to happen next. It does seem
as if considerable thought is going into whatever the response will
be. Reports from Indian & Pakistani newspapers are saying that
the special force units (Rangers, SEALS, Green Berets, several other
groups including one we have never heard of before, "Night
Stalkers." -- this goes into my phrasebook of new terms, along
with "Frozen Zone") are already moving into place. I suspect
something along the lines of the following will happen, whenever
1. Ground forces at this stage will
consist solely of those guys, or some of those guys. More are preparing
to go over, it's said, but I can't help but think that the US is
keeping in mind what happened to the USSR during their ten-year
war. (It would be absolute madness to send a large number of soldiers
into Afghanistan, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, sooner
2. Bombing from the air will occur
prior to the guys going in; I have a suspicion that for appearance's
sake if nothing else, this will be Dresden/Tokyo-size bombing although
there isn't much left to bomb. From today's Times: "When we
looked at Afghanistan before, the sense was we were going to bomb
them up to the stone age," said one former Clinton administration
official familiar with the planning of past military strikes against
Mr. bin Laden's terrorist network.
The FBI is now saying that not long
prior to the event, the pilot of the plane that first struck the
Towers met with an Iraqi intelligence agent. Iraq is vigorously
denying this and evidently claiming this story came from the UK.
If they're in the process of ascertaining
that Hussein was in any way connected (it's hard not to suspect
that he is, if only because the opportunity to get back at Bush
Sr. by way of Bush Jr. would I think be pretty hard to pass up)
they're keeping it *way* under wraps. Because
3. If Hussein was even minimally involved,
it's a pretty safe bet Baghdad will also get the Dresden/Tokyo treatment,
and totally without warning. After that, it's anyone's guess --
anything from ongoing small operations for the next five, ten, twenty
years, to World War III.
One view in the Russian papers is
that if this were to be handled in the traditional Central Asian
way, the Taliban themselves would kill bin Laden, and then turn
over his body claiming that Western intelligence forces did it.
Ah, the Russian mind... being capable
of Russian-level cynicism, and possessed of the ability to endlessly
extrapolate negative transactions, it's easy for me to imagine one
scenario being the US setting off a nuclear bomb in northern Afghanistan
in the midst of ground assaults, air bombing, etc.; thereafter claiming
that the bomb belonged to the terrorists, that we found out about
this just in time, clearly they were going to use it, and that therefore
we have ample cause to do whatever the hell we want, beginning with
taking out the capitals of Iraq, Iran... It is, of course, fortunate
that I am not President.
Enough punditizing, and back to the
home front: the windows of the stores on Fifth & 57th filled
with flags, or memorial bunting, or black curtains. Police cadets
(having not yet been graduated) keeping an eye on traffic in midtown,
and regular police as ever, everywhere. Military humvees heading
down Fifth Avenue along with delivery trucks and stretch limos.
I saw my therapist yesterday for the
first time in two weeks (I see her on Tuesdays, but had no Sept.
11 session), and talked to her about depression, anxiety, the new
numbness of being which I am beginning to think may have a certain
permanence about it, now; about my stepmother's death the week prior
to last, forgotten in the rush of events; about anger, and rage.
(A minor interruption just now as
a workman came into my office. "Just checking your electric
outlet," he said. "The plates." Then, as he leaves,
stated from over his shoulder, "Don't want you to get blown
I've always been an *extremely* angry
person. For most of my life I automatically turned this inward,
with the result being (as noted yesterday, I think) fairly deep
and ongoing depression (which is also, at least partially, hereditary/chemical)
With four years of therapy, beginning after I came out of the hospital
back in 1997, I have managed to be able to get a lot of what was
in, out; and feel much better for it. For the past year I've been
doing much better at getting anger out before it becomes internalized
Unfortunately, if anger has no ready
focus; or if anger rises toward a number of situations, or people,
or whatever, very suddenly, it can't help but be turned inward,
at least initially. And it grows, and it grows, and it grows; and
it either stays inside, and becomes depression (which is what has
been happening, I'm sure not only to me) or comes out in -- well,
random acts of senseless violence. And on a national scale...
But I am only going to speak now of
what has made me angry, this past week.
I am furious at the perpetrators of
this horror. At the hijackers and at all who consciously helped
I am furious at the US, for having
let intelligence slip to such a level that this could have happened.
I am furious at airlines that cut
corners on security and hired guards at six dollars an hour.
I am furious at pundits, who are presently
coming at us from all directions; whether they be Jerry Falwell
saying that liberals and gays brought about these events, causing
God to turn Its back; or Susan Sontag saying in this week's New
Yorker that courage is "a morally neutral virtue," and
that the hijackers were, in context, courageous; or Howard Fineman
in Newsweek writing about how baby boomers, such as himself, have
always been too prone to self-loathing, prior to his saying immediately
thereafter that the rest of our lives are going to be miserable
and we deserve it for having been miserable selfish bastards; or
the local idiot newscaster on Channel 2 (a notorious idiot, who
has bounced from station to station for the past twenty years, always
landing on his feet) who said "we've got a heartwarming story
coming up," immediately prior to going to the burn unit at
Cornell Hospital; or that coke-addled reprobate Taki in the NY Press
saying that we wouldn't have this trouble with the Arabs if it wasn't
for, well you know, the Jews.
I am furious at God, if God there
I believe there is God, in some form.
God leaves us to our own devices. And I believe there is good and
evil. That most of the time, things are a mixture of both, to one
degree or another; but that some people, some actions, some events,
contain nothing but evil, in the truest and classical sense.
I believe that what happened last
Tuesday was an evil act, unjustified and in no way the moral equivalent
of anything the US government has done in the past or is doing now.
Valeria and I had an extremely long
discussion last night that often became an argument, lasting until
"What about Hiroshima? or Nagasaki?
or slavery, or what happened to Native Americans?"
Yes, the US has done terrible things
in the past. Some have arisen from arrogance, some from ignorance,
some from both. Some, such as slavery, or giving smallpox-laced
blankets to the Cherokees,should not have been justified in the
past and cannot be justified now. Some, such as dropping the bombs
on Japan, seemed to be the only thing to do at the time. Perhaps
it was, perhaps not; strong arguments can be made on both sides,
and will be made from now for the next hundred years. Some, such
as rounding up Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, was a dreadful
action that even at the time some (though not enough) felt to be
"They [meaning the hijackers,
specifically] believed we're evil," Valeria said. "It's
the way they see things. We have to understand that." To which,
really, I could only say the easiest of responses: "Hitler
believed Jews are evil. It's the way he saw things." Point
being that yes, you could say the hijackers believed themselves
to be justified. You could say Hitler believed himself to be justified,
or Lenin and Stalin believed themselves to be justified. And in
historical context, their rise to prominence can be understood;
the reasons why they did what they did can be comprehended, at least
in basic outline; their actions demonstrate intelligence, and purpose,
and rationale. You could call them all geniuses, in their own particular
ways, and not be technically incorrect.
But the premises from which they began
were horribly, horribly wrong; and at some point, through their
actions, they crossed the line that separates all of Civilization,
however small or advanced the civilization -- whether it be Western,
Eastern, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Asian, African, Australian --
from the monstrous. From the inhuman.
By inhuman, meaning making a conscious
decision, at some point, to stop seeing people as people (whether
they be enemy or not) to seeing people as disposable tools, or vermin;
or to seeing them not at all -- not simply for the duration of an
emergency, or a war, but forever.
Seeing light, yet choosing dark, thereafter actively working to
switch off light wherever it may be found.
Because that's where these actions
differ from others. That once the choice is made, that's the end
of discussion. The US has at least tried to correct the wrongs it
has done in the past, however belatedly, however ineptly, however
badly; or however well, or however thoroughly. (As have many if
not most other countries as well, some of course doing so far more
effectively than others.)
In other words, we realized we were
wrong, and did awful things believing they were right, *and then
began trying to make amends for what, many times, was unforgivable.*
And thereafter at least tried to do better, the next time.
Were we not to have at least partially
learned from some of our mistakes, for example, the government would
today be issuing edicts to round up all Arab-Americans, to be resettled
in the deserts in the West. *All.*
But that isn't happening, neither
will it happen under present circumstances. And were it to be tried,
even in what has become wartime, the protests would be enormous,
We are, slightly, more civilized than we were; and considering human
history, this is progress.
By 12:30 AM V & I finally began
to understand each other again, and went to sleep at peace. We are
married, and happily married, yet the discussion of these things
is hard, painfully hard; and angry, at times. It is remarkable,
I think, that the discourse thus far has been as restrained as it
has been, imbecile NY Post editorials and certain pundits notwithstanding.
I hope I've not come across as either an imbecile or a pundit, writing
By having written this, I am feeling
much less angry.