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"Thanks for the Enemy"

     For a long time the Pentagon was in a quandary, trying to
determine who was the enemy.  They spent a great deal of effort,
trying to demonize Islam, with phrases like "Arab Terrorists!" 
"Muslim Fundamentalists!"  "Anti-American Iraqis and Iranians!" 
We weren't supposed to ask why there are Iranians and Iraqis who
hate Americans.  The idea was to teach us to hate all Muslims. 
Let "Muslim" replace "Communist" in the emotional repertoire, 
and the Pentagon can justify that war-readiness budget and stay 
in business.
     In the Balkans it was confusing.  Americans don't know
enough of the history of that region, and they wonder how there
could be so many Muslims in Europe.  Europe is supposed to be
Christian, isn't it?  
     History indicates that much of Europe was up for grabs for
many centuries.  In the west Muslim Moors took Spain and half of
France and it cost the Christians almost eight centuries to take
it back, bit by bit, in what the Spaniards call "La Reconquista." 
In the east Muslim Turks knocked on the gates of Vienna not so
long ago, and when they pulled back, they left huge pockets of
Muslim population behind.  But twice in the last decade, in spite
of all the "Muslim Terrorist" bally-hoo, the Americans found
themselves being sympathetic toward those minority Muslims, first
in Bosnia and then in Kosovo.  And we learn that Albania is
mostly Muslim.  Is that not strange?
     Within this country, the official position seems to be that
Muslims are suspect.  A remarkable percentage of police shooting
victims in places like New York City are Muslims.  When someone
bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the first reaction
of law enforcement officers was to assume that Muslims did it,
and to round up Muslim suspects.  It was hard to handle the truth
that red-blooded Americans evidently performed the dastardly
deed.  How can we get this enmity thing clear in the minds of
American taxpayers, with all this confusion?  Are Muslims the
enemy, or aren't they?
     One can imagine the discussions and arguments in the Inner
Sanctum of the War Department, while Belgrade was being bombed a
couple of years ago.  "Let's go back to that old enmity, which
did this budget so much good for the last fifty years.  Castro is
still there, threatening the mainland of the USA, menacing daily
life in Miami as well as San Diego and Seattle, with his awful
godless communism."
     "And China!  What about China?  Let's bomb China!  We can
make it look like an accident, just to prevent things from
getting out of hand too suddenly.  We don't really want a land
war in Asia, not another one.  Old Ike was right about that. 
But let's keep up the enmity.  Unless we do something, their
friendliness toward our business corporations will make it harder
and harder to justify this juicy budget."
     "O.K., but it needs to look like an accident.  We'll bomb
that part of China which is in Belgrade, namely the embassy. 
Then hostilities can have a little room to grow, without many
Americans getting hurt.  Before it's done, we'll even be able to
add India and Pakistan to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
and get them to buy our nuclear technology.  We'll make them buy
all their armaments from us, just the way we forced all those
other NATO countries, especially the new ones, to calibrate
everything according to the specifications of our armament
     "Brilliant idea!  Do it!  Don't bother the commander-in-
chief with any of the details.  If necessary, we'll resurrect old
Plausible Deniability."  And so the deed was done and no one made
much of it.  No one took the step from "accident" to questions
about whether the top-secret, extremely expensive intelligence-
gathering process and the razzle-dazzle fire-power delivery
mechanisms really work.  The budget remained precariously close
to what it was.  And then the whole discussion became moot.
     Whatever the hijackers who struck the World Trade Center
intended, the effect of their deed has been to enable the
Pentagon to identify the enemy.  "All terrorists."  Well, not
really all, because we do it, too, lots of it, but "all
terrorists" who are any kind of threat to us.  And now the budget
is secure, including, for some unknown reason, Star Wars, which
will be especially irrelevant against terrorists.
     The Muslim question remains puzzling.  It would be easier
for the military budgeteers, if we simply took on all Muslims, as
we once did all Communists.  If only we could let "Muslim" really
replace "Communist" in everyone's thinking.  But there are
dissenting voices, not all of them Muslim.  So the word
"terrorist," with all its vagueness, will have to suffice, for
now.  Someone suggested "evildoers," but it didn't catch on, at
least not yet.  That concept may be simply too huge to tackle,
for now.  Too philosophical.  Too theological. 

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Copyright © 2002 Harry Willson

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