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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan
A Thought for Today
Deal gently with the absent.
There are many reasons I turn
to the Op-Ed page of my favorite newspapers every morning before I start
digesting the news on page one. I already know the headline, having seen
them on TV the night before; I love opinions whether they conform to my
own or challenge them; because Op-Ed pieces usually reflect the news
instead of leading it, I’m usually familiar with whatever the talented
writers who populate this page are discussing; and, best of all, the
aforementioned writers more often than not make sense.
One of my favorite Op-Ed regulars in the New York Times is Thomas L.
Friedman. His writing is clear, informative, well thought out and when he
decides to put his tongue in one of his firm cheeks he makes me laugh out
loud. Here’s an example of his take on Foreign Affairs on October 26,
WE ARE ALL ALONE - by Thomas L. Friedman
So let me see
if I've got this all straight now: Pakistan will allow us to use its bases
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — provided we bomb only Taliban whose
names begin with Omar and who don't have cousins in the Pakistani secret
service. India is with us on Tuesdays and Fridays, provided it can shell
Pakistani forces around Kashmir all other days. Egypt is with us on
Sundays, provided we don't tell anyone and provided we never mention that
we give the Egyptians $2 billion a year in aid. Yasir Arafat is with us
only after 10 p.m. on weekdays, when Palestinians who have been dancing in
the streets over the World Trade Center attack have gone to bed. The
Northern Alliance is with us, provided we buy all its troops new sandals
and give U.S. passports to the first 1,000 to reach Kabul.
Israel is with us provided we never question the lunacy of 7,000 Israeli
colonial settlers living in the middle of a million Palestinians in the
Gaza Strip. Kuwait would like to be with us, it really would, since we
saved Kuwait from Iraq, but two Islamists in the Kuwaiti Parliament spoke
out against the war, so the emir just doesn't want to take any chances.
You understand. The Saudis, of course, want to be with us, but Saudis are
not into war-fighting. That's for the household help. Don't worry. Prince
Alwaleed has promised to rent us some Bangladeshi soldiers through a Saudi
temp agency — at only a small markup.
The Saudi ruling family would love to cooperate by handing over its police
files on the 15 Saudis involved in the hijackings, but that would be a
violation of its sovereignty, and, well, you know how much the Saudis
respect sovereignty — like when the Saudi Embassy in Washington rushed all
of Osama bin Laden's relatives out of America after Sept. 11 on a private
Saudi jet, before they could be properly questioned by the F.B.I.
And then there's my personal favorite: All our Arab-Muslim allies would
love us to get bin Laden quickly, but the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is
coming soon and the Muslim "street" will not tolerate fighting during
Ramadan. Say, do you remember the 1973 Middle East war, launched by Egypt
and Syria against Israel? Remember what that war was called in the Arab
world? "The Ramadan war" — because that's when it was started. Oh, well. I
guess the Arab world can launch wars on Ramadan, but not receive them.
My fellow Americans, I hate to say this, but except for the good old
Brits, we're all alone. And at the end of the day, it's U.S. and British
troops who will have to go in, on the ground, and eliminate bin Laden.
Ah, you ask, but why did we have so many allies in the gulf war against
Iraq? Because the Saudis and Kuwaitis bought that alliance. They bought
the Syrian Army with billions of dollars for Damascus. They bought us and
the Europeans with promises of huge reconstruction contracts and by
covering all our costs. Indeed, with the money Japan paid, we actually
made a profit on the gulf war; Coalitions "R" Us.
This time we'll have to pay our own way, and for others. Unfortunately,
killing 5,000 innocent Americans in New York just doesn't get the rest of
the world that exercised. In part we're to blame. The unilateralist
message the Bush team sent from its first day in office — get rid of the
Kyoto climate treaty, forget the biological treaty, forget arms control,
and if the world doesn't like it that's tough — has now come back to haunt
And who can blame other countries for wanting to shake down U.S. taxpayers
when Dick Armey and his greedy band of House Republicans are doing the
same thing — pushing a stimulus bill with more tax breaks for the rich,
lobbyists and corporations, and virtually nothing for the working
Americans who will fight this war?
My advice: Try not to focus on any of this. Focus instead on the firemen
who rushed into the trade center towers without asking, "How much?" Focus
on the thousands of U.S. reservists who have left their jobs and families
to go fight in Afghanistan without asking, "What's in it for me?" Unlike
the free-riders in our coalition, these young Americans know that Sept. 11
is our holy day — the first day in a just war to preserve our free,
multi-religious, democratic society. And I don't really care if that war
coincides with Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukkah or the Buddha's birthday — the
most respectful and spiritual thing we can do now is fight it until
justice is done.
© Copyright 2001 New York
Times. All Rights Reserved
As far as I can remember (not
too far some days) this is the first time “The Hills Draw Nearer” from
next year’s book “Rusting in the Rain” & 1974’s CD “Speaking of Love” has
appeared (below) in a Flight Plan. I rediscovered it in some files Jay had
typed and sent to me.
See you tomorrow with a requested “Some of the Best”. Sleep warm.
RM 10/31/01 Previously
Details of Rod's next
appearance can be obtained by following the link below.
Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman