...and let slip the dogs of war

X plus ten, with the death toll looking to have stabilised at around the 6,000 mark, and a lot of collective holding of breaths to see what will happen next. It's unlikely to be pleasant. We are supposedly at war, as the President made clear within hours of the attacks - a haste which might suggest he has shares in insurance companies, and wanted to afford them an easy "act of war" out to avoid having to pay any claims.

They aren't the only ones in trouble, with the airlines now demanding federal help to avoid mass bankruptcies. Never mind the fact a lot of them were deep in the hole anyway, and this was just the straw that broke the back. We tried to book a flight to San Diego this weekend - hah! we'll show those terrorists - only to face the usual price-doubling because we were booking within seven days of departure. You'd think the airlines would, at this time, be trying to encourage people to get back onto planes, but such is clearly not the case. Screw 'em - if they won't let you take your own beer onto planes, I'd rather take the bus.

So Bush has declared war on terrorism. Let's just hope that works a little bit better than the "war on drugs" we've been fighting for the past twenty years. And there are some disturbing similarities in the badly-defined enemies, non-specific objectives, and dubious methods being proposed here. If it does end up in a conventional war, it's likely to be in Afghanistan - ring any bells, people? The Soviets spent fifteen years trying to subdue the residents there, before finally throwing their hands in the air and collapsing into capitalist anarchy. Do we think we are really going to do better? Anyone remember the last land war America fought in Asia against a technologically inferior enemy? Here's a clue - it started with a V.

I say "we" in this case, which may surprise, given my usual detached approach to such things: hey, you want to go rescue Kuwait, go on, know yourselves out. I'll watch the video highlights on the News at Ten. But this time, my step-son Robert is wobbling dangerously close to draft age, and if this turns out to be a long, drawn-out war (and it would be a naive optimist who'd predict anything else), who knows what might happen? I hear Canada is quite nice this time of year though.

The inevitable conspiracy theories have been floating, mostly revolving around the impossibility of a bunch of towelheaded terrorists getting past airport security with box-cutters, unless they had inside help. However, it's pathetically obvious to anyone who has been through airport security, that it is staffed by $6.50 an hour security guards, and you get exactly what you pay for. The terrorists also had an advantage in that they only needed to hold the planes for long enough to point them at New York. Once word reached the fourth plane's passengers of their likely fate, the hijackers were toast. Unfortunately, we can surmise that as they went, there also went the only remaining people capable of flying the plane.

Movies you will not be seeing on TV in the near future: Passenger 57, Die Hard, The Siege. Even Arnie is not immune, his upcoming Collateral Damage having been pulled, even though the terrorists had been changed from Libyans to Colombians beforehand anyway. Yet, oddly enough, terrorist flicks like those mentioned have been red-hot at the video shops - yet again proving how the media doesn't have its finger on the pulse of popular sentiment as much as it'd like to think.

Already the reprisals have started. I'm "proud" to report that Phoenix was the location for the first revenge killing of an Asian-American, though some measure of the intellectual level of the assailant can be gained from the fact that the victim was a Sikh. Y'know, the ones that wear turbans, and so are immediately identifiable as not Moslems at all? Doh! Finally, a comment from Sven Taveby after last week's editorial, which also sheds an interesting light on the media coverage of such events:

Die Stern (large German weekly magazine) and DN (Swedens largest morning paper) have tracked down the celebrating Palestinian woman. They asked her what she celebrated. The answer: We celebrated the free candy (kanafe, some kind of local sweets) that the *Palestinian* cameramen were handing out... In Swedish we call that "sjalv-mal"; kicking the ball into your own goal.


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