It was six months ago this week that America was attacked by
terrorists, Osama Bin Laden made his horrific entrance onto the
world stage, and George W. Bush transformed instantaneously from
a bumbling Texas frat-boy into his nation's version of Winston
Churchill. We sat transfixed by images of airliners slamming
into towers, bodies falling over 70 stories to the cement below,
and the Hollywood-like crumbling of New York skyscrapers. We
were shocked and horrified. We wanted leadership, security, and
How things have changed. This past week, I received my first
emailed "Dubya jokes" since the attacks, along with a
real-life anecdote about the US President waving
enthusiastically to blind musician Stevie Wonder during a recent
concert. Lawrence Donegan of the London Observer declared in a
March 10th editorial that it's now officially cool to
make fun of "Dubya" again.
The bipartisan love-in is over, too. Democrats and
Republicans are settling comfortably back into their old,
familiar positions--with their hands wrapped around each other's
throats. The extended honeymoon is finally over.
People seem to have grown tired with the pursuit of elusive
terrorist kingpin Osama Bin Laden in what has amounted to a
hopeless game of "Where's Waldo." To many, victory in
this war on terrorism means capturing or killing Bin Laden and
Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Despite President Bush's initial
warnings that this will be a long, protracted, drawn-out war
that will be fought on many different fronts, people are getting
impatient. The war on terrorism has moved out of our own
backyard. Out of sight, and out of mind.
We're now growing frustrated with long line-ups at the
US-Canadian border and at airport security checks. Headlines
about the war have been bumped from the front pages in favor of
news about the Enron scandal, David Letterman's possible move
from CBS to ABC, and the glam fashions sported by celebrities at
recent award shows. Even pre-September 11th poster
boy, Congressman Gary Condit, was back on Larry King again,
resuming his "Denial Tour 2001" in what turned out to
be a futile attempt to win public support for his re-election
bid after the Chandra Levy fiasco.
The fact that our lives have returned to some semblance of
normalcy is a good thing. But we need to realize that the threat
of a terrorist attack is still very real. Pentagon strategists
say that al-Qaeda operatives around the world are primed and
prepared to strike. It wouldn't take a nuclear bomb, just a few
determined nuts with a death wish--as was the case on September
11th. Sooner or later, our luck is bound to run out.
And, as a prominent symbol of Western democracy, Canada could
very well be a target.
This is not an "American" war. Over 750 Canadian
soldiers are in Afghanistan, with some--such as snipers and
commandos from the elite Joint Task Force 2--in direct combat.
Canadians have a stake in striking at the root of terrorism as
we, too, are at risk.
It looks like Bush's next stop in fighting this war on
terrorism is Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Bush has already asked
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to commit 25,000 troops to
help topple Hussein. In response, Blair is preparing a dossier
to prove that Iraq has developed nuclear armaments beyond the
blueprint stage, that it already possesses other weapons of mass
destruction such as chemical and biological warfare, and
possibly even supports Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization.
Blair recognizes that without early preventative action,
"we may find out too late the potential for
destruction" that Iraq possesses. If Bin Laden was capable
of taking the Western World by surprise, then why not Saddam
Hussein? As Blair pointed out in a speech he made last week to
Commonwealth leaders, for ten years, the world ignored
conditions in Afghanistan that are not unlike those currently in
Iraq. History could very well repeat itself if we don't take
what we've learned from it and apply it.
Some people, like Canadian NDP Member of Parliament Svend
Robinson, just don't seem to get it. Robinson recently asked
Prime Minister Jean Chretien, "Will the Prime Minister tell
George Bush that we will not follow him down his dangerous Texas
gunslinger road to fight in a shootout against the axis of evil?
Will he make that clear to Canadians?"
Unfortunately, the world didn't have the foresight to prevent
the attacks that occurred six months ago right in our own
backyard. This time we have the chance to slice off the head of
the monster before it can do any damage. We cannot allow
ourselves and our leaders to be lulled into a coma of
complacency now that things seem to be getting back to normal.
Lest we ever forget the shock and terror of September 11th,
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