Is There Another Way?
October 12, 2001
By Lincoln Farnum

I saw some post-bombing coverage from Kabul this morning. People were combing through the rubble of what likely used to be their homes, or businesses. It seemed very much like a third-world version of our coverage of the WTC cleanup. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be happy that they are experiencing it now too (not that they haven't for the last 20 years or so), or notice that after bombings we are all left with piles of rubble, lost loved one, and broken dreams, and that war carries with it a universal human experience, one of loss, and one that we now all share.

I'm saddened and depressed by "WWIII." I wish that I could say that I feel any satisfaction at all about what the press immediately described as our "counterattack" against people who I've seen no evidence of guilt or complicity in the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Is it really a counterattack or maybe just an attack? Counterattack sounds much more as though they deserve it. Maybe we're sure they do, I wish I could believe that.

I saw a political cartoon in the Sun this morning of food being dropped out of the back of an airplane; the caption read 'Smart Bombs.' It the one thing that I've seen or read so far that I feel safe agreeing with. Our propaganda campaign about 'humanitarian aid' is smart. Of course, we're dropping the food over the areas held by the Northern Alliance (roughly 5% of the country) so our humanitarian aid is limited to those we call allies and probably never gets near the other 95% of the Afghani people needing aid, but it makes good press.

95% of the resources go to 5% of the people, compassionate aid from compassionate conservatives.

I'm still very frightened that this is going to get out of our control and get a lot of people, many of whom we are quite likely to know, killed.

I was dreaming about San Francisco this morning, of driving over the Sunset Peaks towards Ocean Beach, of the beautiful homes and sweeping panoramas in the areas west of the Golden Gate Bridge. I miss that city. I never owned any of it though, I couldn't afford a home at the time that I lived there, and I never really felt as though any of it belonged to me (well, except maybe a stool at the occasional bar, like Croll's in Alameda.) I wonder, when people have no ownership in their world, whether they become more likely to behave in antisocial manners. The less investment we have in 'the world' the more likely we are to attempt changing it by whatever means we can devise and not altogether mind leaving it in the process.

Excessively simplistic, I suppose, but maybe a really smart bomb would be to find some place for the Palestinians to live. I don't know what the solution to that one is. Israel is rather too important to be imagined back into non-existence (though I'm quite sure that there are many on both sides of the issue with just those dreams and fears) though there has pretty much been non-stop war in the Middle East since the UN partitioned Palestine after WWII. I suspect if the people get inspired by bin Laden's use of this seemingly insoluble problem as a fulcrum to power, it might not make much difference that the leaders of many of the countries out there are currently satisfied with the relatively lucrative status quo.

I've had a lot of scenarios running through my head lately, how this might work out, or not, and what we might do to respond. I've heard a few others, one was particularly disturbing - that bin Laden's war (the one we're helping him foment in all of the Moslem dominated countries) grows to become a fundamentalist revolution in Pakistan and that by a takeover he gains control of their nukes. If that happened, everything really would be changed. When I think of that I can't help but hear the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding around the neighborhood.

I read something good on Stratfor the other day - that during WWII we armed the Russians to help them fight the Nazis. Then later we armed what would become The Taliban to help him fight the Soviets, and now we're going to have to arm the Northern Alliance to help them fight The Taliban. One thing's for sure - it's good for business (if one happens to be the world's largest arms dealer, as the U.S. is.)

Maybe it's not so good for us though. Is it too late to ask if there's maybe another way?