Terror and War, a Maelstrom of Passion
It was about 6:45 am on a sunny September morning. In fact, it was a tuesday and looking to be a great day. I had just started a new job the previous thursday, and finally I was out of the physical labor force and into something more technically challenging and much more personally rewarding. I had no idea that one of the most profound events of my lifetime was about to happen. With my first cup of black coffee, I turned the news on CTV Newsnet, as I always did in the morning, and I sat and watched a building burning. People shouting. Chaos. No-one knew what was happening. Then there were reports of "a plane" crashing into the first of the Twin Towers of the WTC. I thought to myself, "Holy smokes... some poor bastard flew a Cessna off course or something." As they continued to try and piece together the information, my son, then 8, woke up and sat with me. "Shhhh... Something bad has happened, "I said to him when he began to tell me about his dreams or school.
It was then that the second plane came in. Live. On tv. I know it pales in comparison to the people that were there, but no-one expected it. We sat together and watched a commercial jetliner full of people smash into a giant building, also full of people. My GOD! I couldn't believe it. The people on tv couldn't believe it. Nobody knew what was happening... It seemed somehow surreal, like a clip from a movie, or a video game. This sort of thing just didn't happen. The boy laughed somewhat timidly. I don't think he grasped what had just happened. Of course not... it was absolutely insane. I chastised him lightly, and said "It isn't funny, a lot of people were just killed." I still don't think he understood.
I had to get to work. My mind was suddenly a maelstrom of thoughts. When the normal pace of life is disturbed by something so insane and unrealistic as this, it can be very difficult to grapple with normal thoughts and reality. At least for me it was. I went into the bedroom and in what must have been a mishmosh of gibberish, told my girlfriend that someone flew planes into the WTC. I said that I thought the boy was okay and I had to go to work, but she should definately put the news on the television...
I had a 50km drive to work ahead of me. Far too much time to think inthe morning, especially when reality has been replaced with some sort of psychological horror. I kept looking up at the skies, half expecting to see 747s bearing down on Red Deer.
"Who did it?"
I looked at every face that morning. At the lights. On the highway. Did they know? Did they see it like me? Do they even care? I got to work and the place was a buzz. I phoned home right away, to make sure everyone was okay. Already, a television had been set up in the lab in the back. As news came in, there was a bigger and bigger crowd forming to watch. The 3rd attack on the Pentagon came. The 4th plane crashing in Penn... The buildings collapsing. People crying. It was terrible.
Somehow, we all made it through work that day. Maybe it was the endless speculation and discussion that helped us. Maybe the fact that we were all safe.
That night, I called my Dad. I was still wrestling with the events of the day, and fighting back the tears caused by so much tension was difficult all day, as it is now, trying to recollect that morning and the vision of what I saw happen on television. He had similar experiences. Once in a while something so mindnumbing and profound happens, that you never forget it. I can't even remember what he told me, but just talking about things really helped me out.
As the days went by, more information was coming in. The casualties and missing, the endless task of searching and helping. So many people gave so much those days, that they are truly heroes beyond compare.
Then the blame came. At this point, I, along with many millions of other people, wanted blood. Who did this. Someone had to pay, and pay dearly they would. At this point in my life, I rarely discussed any form of politics. To me, all politicians were liars and crooks, and it was really a waste of time trying to piece together the intricate web of international politics.
The Taliban. Osama Bin Ladin. I knew the name, and I was aware of the nonsense the Taliban was up to in Afghanistan. Bush began his Holy Crusade which at the time was what almost everyone wanted to be sure. It was war. The planes, ships and tanks rolled out, and the War on Terror had begun with Afghanistan in earnest. I wanted this war, and I wanted those bastards to pay for what they had done. It wasn't that they had physically affected me, or anyone I knew, but they made me watch that chaos and they made my 8 year old son watch it with me. I cheered them on as they bombed, and bombed and bombed.
Months passed and it was over. They had pretty much occupied Afghanistan, and there was still no sign of Bin Ladin. There was still a definate lack of closure, but at this point, thoughts had begun to settle down, and I realised that there was much more to these amazing events than just some spiteful attack by crazed Muslim fanatics. I can never condone attacking civilians and as much as I oppose the US administration and their pseudo-fascist policies at present, I oppose the use of terror and military strikes on civilians.
At this point, eyes were searching all over for Bin Ladin and his top men. Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, many other Middle Eastern countries. Suspected Al Qaida agents were being picked up all over the world. As far as I knew, Bin Ladin was from or had ties with Saudi Arabia. Seemed liek a logical place to look to me. At this point, I realised that the "War on Terror" had been bastardised into something far more sinister. The mighty US machine of righteousness has turned to Iraq. Talk of Al Qaida links with Saddam Hussein, and his massive stockpile of WMDs... "What about Saudi Arabia?" I thought. Wait, they are allies, aren't they? Don;t they trade tons of oil to the US?
I knew then that there was no ties with the previous war. I knew that suddenly, something that had started out as a Crusade of Good, had become a Vendetta. It was no longer about terror and American security. The US had maintained that it acted to preserve the safety of all civilised western peoples, but did they really? Were they the big boy on the block, who had taken a shot in the nuts for the policy they had set out for many decades before, and now they wanted to fight back with all the punches they could muster? Attacking Iraq made little sense to me. As the debates went on, and there was no proof of WMDs, I did a complete 180 degree turn with my thinking. This is about Oil. It is about the fact that George Senior never killed Hussein. It is about the fact that US policy that once backed this guy now spurned him as some villain. Yeah, sure he was a bad guy, and he killed a lot of people. But the intent of the War on Terror wasforsaken. It was suddenly an excuse to invade anywhere the US didn't like the government or regime in power. At least that is what I think. Iraq had no WMDs. It was a lie. There were no ties or kinship between Bin Ladin and Hussein. That also was a lie. The President and his Administration had lied to millions of people all over the world, and still they are in control. The war was based on lies, and even now, years after the invasion, there are still more lies.
I am sure I could carry this on for many more pages, but the idea is to illustrate the events at that point in my life that led me to rally behind one war, and vehemently oppose a second. Any nation that thinks they are bigger than the the whole, is trouble for sure, and now, with a suddenly worthless and meaningless excuse of "War on Terror", it is beginning.