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Feature Story September 20, 2001
 
Be Cool, America. War??? Think it Over
War??? Think it Over By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
 

Hold on there, chief. Put the gun down. Just put it down, we'll walk out of here together, and everything's going to be all right.

You might have to go to jail. But no one is going to get killed.

Cooler heads prevail. It's a saying as American as apple pie. The power forward gets taken down with a hard foul. He gets up and pushes the little point guard who did it. The opposing center rushes over and raises his fist. And...

And the referee, or some veteran on the bench, steps in and separates them. No punches are thrown. Both teams shoot a few free throws. And the game goes on. Cooler heads prevailed.

Do we want to watch the game all the way to the end? Do we want to go back to the kind of life where bad sushi, or a Steven Soderbergh movie, is enough to ruin our whole day? Then we've got to step back and think before we start World War III.

In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, cooler heads are not prevailing. The wise gentlemen who are running our country have convinced us all that the appropriate course right now is to burn red hot. They're telling us that the situation we're confronted with now is "beyond politics," that this is "not the time to think, it's the time to act," and that we have to immediately declare war on anyone and everyone even remotely associated with the terrorists who attacked us, whether they bear direct responsibility or not.

The people who are telling us this are hoping beyond hope that we've all forgotten what we learned in elementary school: that if a bully picks a fight with you at recess, the only smart thing to do is to walk away.

Scared people run away as WTC building collapses

HOLY SHIT!!! The World Trade Center attack was a Pauly Shore film short compared to smallpox, anthrax, and a ten-year World War

Make no mistake about it. A violent military response by the United States benefits only one group of people: the extremist politicians on both sides. Think about it. Do you think the people who committed these attacks were counting on anything but the most extreme possible response from the United States? Of course not. They knew what was going to happen. And if they wanted war, you have to ask yourself: why?

The answer is the same answer you heard in elementary school. They did it to bring us down to their level. To put us all back in the jungle. Our leaders, and these terrorists, might already be there -- but we're not, and we don't deserve to go.

If it really was Osama bin Laden who masterminded these attacks, a response by the United States, on the scale we're planning, will make him a first-ballot all-star in every Muslim country in the world. A figure who is weak politically plays to his strengths, if he has them in other areas. A terrorist's strength is force and terror. In that he can be equal even to a country as powerful as the United States. But politically, he can never match us -- if we do the right thing.

And if we do the wrong thing... what might happen?

Right now we're being told not to think about that. Get behind the president. Support our troops. Cheer, sacrifice, but don't think.

But we have to think. We've got to be cool. That's the only way we're going to get out of this. Otherwise, we'll lose everything -- and we have a lot to lose.

THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO

Americans have a lot at stake in the upcoming war. Among those things are: our lives, our influence, and our way of life.

If we go to war, we have a very good chance of losing all three.

There is an old saying: a spoonful of wine in a barrelful of sludge equals a barrelful of sludge. A spoonful of sludge in a barrelful of wine equals a barrelful of sludge.

Terrorists do not have to be strong to win. All they have to do is keep at it. Ask the Russians, the Israelis, the British and the French. Despite vastly superior resources, they can't defeat the Chechens, the Palestinians, the Irish, and the Algerians. (Whether or not they have a moral right to defeat them is another question we'll address further down). Unless you exterminate everybody on the other side, bombs will keep going off. The war will never end; it only escalates. And the more you counterattack, the more you inspire new generations of enemies to strike back.


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