Sunday, May 22, 2011

Osama Is Dead, Now What?

It has been a few weeks since President Obama announced that a mission had been conducted that killed Osama Bin Laden. This has raised lots of questions, some of which won't be asked, but probably should.

Disclaimer: I try to stay away from political dicussions (at least within my blogs) for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons being that you're likely to offend someone and I'd rather work postively and not destructively, I want my audience to grow and readers to come back often. I'd really like to stay away from the hatred and intestity that can come from discussion of Osama Bin Laden and what he has done to America and the world, but I thought that I did have something that I wanted to say. If you don't wish to read this and would like to read more of the "normal" content usually published here then please feel free to skip over this, if you do feel like reading further, than you're welcome to do so!

I tend to believe that there are good people in most walks of life and that if we work together and have the right people working on it, that humanity can solve some difficult and challenging problems. For this reason I find Osama Bin Laden and what he has done to us just heart wrentching. Now that he is gone, I hope that we can look at this and I'll be discussing this throughout this article.

There has been a lot said about how American was celebrating his death and I've seen some good articles on how we should feel now that he is dead. Further down in this post I'll tell you where you can find some of these articles. There have been some truly "evil" people throughout the history of mankind and there is little doubt that the world is a better place without him planning attacks and murdering people that didn't do anything to him. It is good that the world is rid of his hatred and contempt for humanity.

September 11th Was a Defining Point in History

Septembert 11th was one of those defining periods in the history of mankind. The world that we lived in before it happend is totally different than the world that has come afterwards. No matter how hard we try, we can not return to the pre- September 11th world, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I believe that we should look at what has happened since September 11th and look at where things were prior to this and where we want to go and decide how we want to get there. With Osam Bin Laden being gone, we now have a good chance to do this and we should take advantage of this opportunity.

Modern Day Crusades

One of the biggest outcomes of the September 11th has been the War on Terror. With the War on Terror there has also been a widdening of the gap between Christian-leaning people and Muslims. Osama Bin Ladden has been able to fan the flames of hatred and distrust. I hate to see one person or a handful of people cast such a awful light on any particular religion. I've had concerns that the whole War on Terror could very well lead to a modern Crusade pitting Christians against Muslims and pitting other groups against each other. There has been enough genocide in our histroy and we certainly don't need any one group trying to exterminate another. We need to find more ways to unite people than to divide them.

Costs of Wars in Afganistan and Iraq

In the aftermath of September 11th, wars in Afganistan and Iraq have been fought. The "costs" of these have been very high on America and the world. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated the cost of the Iraq War alone being $3 Trillon in the book "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict". As their book was published in 2008, I'm not sure how time since then has effected the cost, but I've read accounts that make that figure seem very conservative. In addition to putting a monetary figure on the costs, there are lives that have been lost (troops, combatants, and civilians), the families that have been torn apart, and the large number of disabilities and amputations faced by our service peoples. In Afganistan and Iraq the American military have used a lot of national guard personnel, which means that these people have not been able to contribute to society via their regular jobs during their tour(s) of duty. There is also the opportunity costs (I'm sure the we can all think of a lot of ways the money could have been better spent!). So many people have been taken in the prime of their lives, what might these people have contributed to society within their lifetimes? What about the children, grandchildren, and future generations that wont't exist because of the deaths of those that have lost their lives in the War on Terror? What kind of talent won't the world have because of these wars? What might all of these people accomplished? The list of other costs can become quiet extensive.

The Post Cold War World

The Cold War ended and the world should have taken the time to think about what dirrection we wanted to go. We should have done some serious evaluation of what we've done during the Cold War, and thought about what kind of adjustments we need to make. The Soviet Union no longer wanted to "bury" us, in fact they no longer exist! The whole Cold War mentality needed to be dropped and/or changed. Institutions that were created or fundamentally changed because of the Cold War needed to be evaluated. Think of all the billions and trillions of dollars being spent in ways that don't make sense any longer! The way the world functioned during the Cold War wasn't necessarily be the best way to continue, how would the world function in the post Cold War world? America spent a ton of money arming itself with nuclear weapons and we now have what President Eisenhower referred to as the "military industrial complex", where it is in the interest of the companies that make all kinds of war-type machinery and associated supplies that the government feels the need to keep buying all that stuff. President Eisenhower was a great American five star general, so he is not someone that would be considered soft on the military. You should listen to his farewell address, you can find it on YouTube. It is hard to get a true picture of how much money is truly spent on Defense by America because it is hidden in several parts of the budget (if you can even find it listed in the budget at all) After several decades of the Cold War, America did not need to jump right into another proloned and endless war.

What Freedoms Have We Lost Since September 11th?

Dan Carlin did a really good episode of his Common Sense podcast where he talked about some of the freedoms that we've given up since September 11th. Think about having to take your shoes off or being frisked just to fly on a plane. The Bill of Rights certainly isn't the same as it was pre September 11th! The desire to be more secure and to have security is well on its way to being the next military industrial complex, with new threats always being around the corner. When you spend all that money on securiity, terrorists will look for other easier targets, and you've spent all that money (something that the terrorits probably wanted you to do anyways). How many people are on the various terror watch lists and how many of them are there by accident. This seems like a modern day witch hunt. What kind of things are our governments doing in the name of security and national interests, more transparency is needed to make sure that the powers of governments are not being abused.

War on (fill-in the blank)

The War on Terror is the latest in a series on unsuccessful "War on (fill-in the blank)". There has been a War on Drugs, War on Crime, and countless other "War on (fill-in the blank)". Have we ever really won any of them? There have been huge costs associated with them and in some (the War on Drugs in particular) we've seen more of our freedoms evaporate. There has to be a better approach than declaring a war on something. I'd like to see more use of the entrepaneur and pioneer spirits in combating the true problems at hand. Often the "War on (fill-in the blank) is only trying to address a symptom and not even getting at the root cause of the problem. Instead of fighting another "War on(fill-in the blank)" on Terrorism, we should try to get to the roots of what causes Terrorism. The definition of a terrorist really depends on who is defining it, in many cases we don't wish to address the real problem, so we just label a group of people terrorsts, but this doesn't really solve the problem and the list of terrorists gets bigger and bigger.

War on Terror

When is the War on Terror really over? Because a war on Terror is not like any traditional wars fought in the past where there is a clearly defined enemy living in a particular country or political state, there is always more terrorists coming out and the ability to get them all is not very realistic (or affordable given the ever expanding, uncontrollable deficit spending of the Federal and other goverments). I would argue that since Osama Bin Laden is not arround to lead the "other side", that we should end the whole war and the way that we've been fighting it. We should at least look at the approach that we've taken so far. Already, I've seen reports that name a successor to OBL, which makes me think that there will be a huge effort made to keep doing what we've been doing, but we cannot affort to keep doing what we've been doing. Perpetual war won't solve our problems, it will only bankrupt us, finanacally and morally.

The Arab Spring

It is encouraging to see what is being called the Arab Spring, Many of the people, in several Arab countries, have demostrated and expressed that it is time for change and that their authoritarin dictators are no longer wanted. Maybe, like the former Eastern Block countries were able to get rid of their oppressive authoritarian leaders, the Arab world will be able to do the same. Many of the dictators that have been in power during the Cold War and post Cold War period were supported because stability was wanted and they were seen as a good ally in the Cold War era. 20 and 30 years with the same president and is not democracy and is probably not what most people in those countries want. Promoting dictators who really aren't looking after their people and are only looking after their own personal interests is something that America and the rest of the world should really rethink.

What Can We Do?

Since the 5th Anniversary of September 11th, Project 2996 has been on a mission to celebrate the lives of the victims of September 11th. Every year starting with the 5th Anniversary, they encouraged people to post online tributes honoring the victims and the lives they led. I discovered them while I was researching a post that I did for the 6th anniversary of September 11th. I've participated in the project with posts I've written for the 7th, 8th, and 9th anniversaries. On of their main goals has been to see that there are tributes for each and every single victim. I'd love to see them reach this goal and hope that through their efforts (and the efforts of many others) that the world will have a better idea of who we lost on that tragic day.

Prepare New York

Recently I found and joined the social network Prepare New York. A newletter that I recently received from them stated that "Prepare New York is a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations including-Auburn Seminary and its Center for Multifaith Education, Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, Quest, and Tanenbaum and its Religion and Diversity Education Program, who are committed to preparing New York City (and the nation) for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by promoting civil dialogue, education about religious pluralism, support for the Muslim community, and coordinating events on the day of the anniversary. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and 9/11 Communities for Common Ground serve as advisers to the coalition." I've seen several posts refered to from their main page that discuss how we feel since Osama Bin Laden has died and how we should feel. It has certainly caused a wide range of thoughts and feelings on how we should feel and act. If you live in the New York/New Jersey area, any other area affected by September 11th, or just would like to see the world move in a postive direction "Post September 11th" and post Osama Bin Laden's death, I'd suggest checking out Prepare New York.

2012 Elections

In 2012 there will be all kinds of elections. Now would be a good time to let our "leaders" know that we don't want life to continue as it has since September 11th, that we want to see and end to the "War on Terrror". We should look for candidates that aren't going to only promote to continue to keep things the way that they have been. We should look for candidates that are thinking about the future. Who is running that really wants to build a world that our children and grandchildren can live happily in? Don't vote for candidates that are really only concerned with speaking out on behalf of their campaign contibutors. We need real leaders not just politicians that are "bought and paid for".

Since Osama Bin Ladden has died, I think that it is time to end the "War on Terror", declare "Mission Accomplished" and start healing the wounds that we've had since September 11th. I hope that we as a nation and the world will be able to get to the point again where we can have civilized discussions about topics that we might not agree on, without all the hatred and name calling that have come to be common place. I hope that we can once again care for other people, showing a respect for others instead of distrust and disregard. It is time build a proper post Cold War world that will be sustainable for generations to come. If we can do all of this, then we will really have something to celebrate. Osama Bin Ladden is gone, and so one of the most evil men in our history won't be around to plan and carry out further death and destruction.

Photo credit: Blue flowers courtesy of bertvthul.
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