Tags: The | Rules | Have | Changed

The Rules Have Changed

Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM

And you are too stupid to be useful if you are the least bit surprised.

For decades, Americans have failed to understand that, as my Cousin Guerney puts it, "Everything that moves around in the dark ain't Santa Claus."

For decades, forces in the world that hate America have been growing. They've always had the will to harm America, and they've been quite openly improving their ways and means. What do you suppose those Islamic fundamentalists in their training camps have been up to all these years – a little male bonding, perhaps, like the weekend Michigan militia in the north woods?

Film director Alfred Hitchcock taught us that if there's a gun in act one, it's sure to go off in act three.

Welcome, America, to act three.

The aforementioned should be as close as any commentator should come to "I told you so!" Now what?

Warning: History mixed with optimism can make a heady cocktail. Try this:

Do you believe the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor figured, "A successful strike should give us more than three and a half years of feel-good triumph before they finish us off with nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki"?

Of course not. They figured America would recoil from the western Pacific in fear and shame for having dared challenge the true masters of the Far East, the Japanese. They figured the Americans would limp homeward and start casting blame on whoever in the American government so stupidly got us "overextended" in that distant region in the first place.

They figured wrong.

It doesn't take long to realize you've lost at the roulette table. And it shouldn't take the terrorists long to realize they've lost; yes, LOST, even after their dazzling "success" in the multi-plane suicide attack on the United States. They figured America would come apart like an Alka-Seltzer tablet under Niagara Falls, having spent so many decades undermined by sex, rap music, and designer drugs. They figured our traditional allies would scurry for distance from an America that couldn't even defend its own Pentagon and twin towers they'd long known were terrorist targets.

The terrorists rolled the dice, and they lost. They didn't count on the identical rising up of the Sleeping Giant that defeated Germany and Japan in World War II. They didn't count on allies old and new returning our calls before we even made them. President George Bush Senior had to use diplomacy, bribery, threats, and cajolery to cobble together a coalition to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. His son awoke to find an instant coalition on America's side the very same week, a coalition including even Russia and China.

Art dealer Reese Palley once said everybody in the world has one great painting in him. Maybe every aggressor has one great aggression in him, too. Japan's aggression at Pearl Harbor was masterful. So was Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, also in 1941. And Saddam Hussein could also take a bow for his unopposed conquest of Kuwait in 1990. Argentina took the Falkland Islands from Britain as easily as you occupy a vacant deck chair on a cruise ship. And, for a while, the Soviet Union appeared to have conquered the historically unconquerable Afghanistan.

The terrorists succeeded in using the unthought-of-and-unthinkable weapon of jet-fuel-loaded airliners piloted by suicide flyers to crumple the towers of the World Trade Center and one wall of the Pentagon. So why have they lost?

They've lost because their actions finally succeeded in changing the rules that made their very existence possible in the first place.

For years, there has been a bureaucratic schizophrenia in America. In one room in Washington, we had Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and maybe a few others on a list of countries that aid terrorists. And in another room in Washington, we had a list of people from some of those same countries being trained in America, not in things like pharmacology and media marketing, mind you, but in advanced weapons technology, computer science, and, yes, flying jet aircraft.

That rule has been changed.

The new rule is "You must choose sides!" Countries that aid terrorists must now line up as allies of the United States against terrorism, or else. Pakistan agreed with this new attitude on Day One.

Can the Pakistanis get away with nice words while continuing to support terrorism? Some fear "yes," but not likely for long. Bill Clinton's not there anymore. Those terrorist-loving countries will be told their cooperation with the new U.S.-led anti-terror coalition will be verifiable, bull-proof and pig-tight, or those countries will be considered enemies – enemies of a supremely competent and supremely angry America.

Sure, those countries would prefer to continue the pre-September 11 way; lollygagging along in good relations with the United States while satisfying their internal West-hating constituency by playing along with the bin Laden laddies. No more. That was fine under the old rules – business as usual so long as the terrorism you help feed remains mosquito-like in its scope.

Once the mosquito becomes a bird of prey capable of swallowing thousands of lives and two of New York's tallest buildings at a time, the rules change.

My guess is that the government of Pakistan, if confronted with the choice, would prefer to remain the government of Pakistan rather than the ex-government of Pakistan. Those complicit countries must find their own words in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Dari, and Pashtu to tell the terrorists it's over and they've got 24 hours to get out. Okay, in the interests of pan-Islamic solidarity, go ahead and take 48!

Prior to September 11, the rules said "No casualties!" That's why Kosovo was bombed from way on high, trading accuracy for the safety of the bombers. Why were the Apache helicopters that were rushed to bases in Albania never used in that campaign? My guess is because Apaches work low, close to the ground, and some of them were to be piloted by women. And under the rules of that day, with male casualties ruled out 100 percent, female casualties were ruled out 1,000 percent.

We've now had more than 5,000 casualties, both genders fairly represented.

Remember the revulsion against "profiling," driving while black, flying while Muslim, etc? Even New York Senator Hillary Clinton told the media after the attack that it's time to let those best acquainted with professional law enforcement make those decisions. The terrorists proved themselves as clever as they are evil in recruiting teams of suicide pilots. They haven't yet, however, proved themselves clever enough to recruit Norwegians or blacks or Chinese or Canadians to do their suicide piloting.

In World War II, American fighting men in the South Pacific were guilty of the worst kind of racial profiling. They shot everybody who looked Japanese. You can now expect law enforcement to feel free to ask tough questions of those who look the part.

What about money? If I expect tough, autocratic regimes to gulp and buckle and work with us, then I surely expect much more forthcoming cooperation from the banks and financial institutions that keep the terrorists' money flowing so they can afford things like nice houses in Florida, drinks at the bar and flight training for the suicide pilots. If the banks of Switzerland can open their legendary numbered accounts to see how much money rightly belongs to Holocaust survivors, they can damn well do the same to help us choke off funds for the mass murderers of today.

Americans who can do no better in times of crisis than ridicule the speaking style of the president are having a fine time yukking it up in contempt of his reply to a reporter at the Pentagon who asked him bluntly, "Do you want Osama bin Laden dead?"

President Bush said, "I want justice." Then he added, "There was an old sign in the West that said 'Wanted: Dead or Alive!' "

As one who backs the President as my personal platoon leader, I'll concede that remark falls short of the booming elegance of Franklin Roosevelt, who proclaimed to a joint session of Congress the day after Pearl Harbor, "We shall gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God!"

All such remarks, of course, fall short of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's address to Adolf Hitler while German bombs were falling on England during the blitz.

Churchill told Hitler simply, "You do your worst, and we shall do our best!"

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And you are too stupid to be useful if you are the least bit surprised. For decades, Americans have failed to understand that, as my Cousin Guerney puts it, Everything that moves around in the dark ain't Santa Claus. For decades, forces in the world that hate America...
Monday, 17 September 2001 12:00 AM
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