When G.W. Bush bombed some sense into Iraq without any definitive proof of massive chemical weapons held there, the entire socialist/pacifist/alternative/perverted world couldn't feel good enough condemning him. Mind: Saddam was a man whose cruelty was above suspicion, and who had already practiced genocide on a terrifying scale. The most dangerous man on the planet, bar none.
This time there is, again, no smoking gun that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons; the scale of the alleged attack is, for what it's worth, infinitely smaller; and yes, the Syrian government poses thousand obstacles to a proper analysis of what is going on; but so did Saddam. And yes, they probably did it; but so Saddam wanted everyone to believe – inside and outside his country – that he did have the potential for devastating, genocidal attacks.
One begins to notice. When “hope and change” bombs away a regime without proof, everything is fine. When Dubya does the same with an infinitely more dangerous opponent, he is the Cosmic Bastard.
Mr “Hope and Change” will bring on the wrongest possible change, and possibly put the Christian in Syria in a hopeless situation. The Western intervention will bomb, first of all, the hope of Christians in Syria for a peaceful life.
I can't avoid thinking the intervention spells the end of Assad's regime. I will not cry for the bastard. I will cry for Syria's Christians. Even bastards have their use.
And no, I do not condone the use of chemical weapon. If I were the POTUS, I would help Assad's regime so they are not in such dire straits as to use them. If it means being on the same side as Hizbollah, amen to that. You can't have Christians killed and forced to flee just because you don't like Iran. A strong Presidency would have dozens occasions to punish Iran without Syria's Christians being put in such an Islamist hell as the one that will reign – though the BBC won't tell you – after Assad's gone.
Yes, there are risks in this. There are risks in pretty much flippin' everything one does in the region. But heavens, if Western powers do not have an eye for the situation of those poor Christians in Syria, in Egypt, in Lybia, in Iraq who will care for them: the Islamists?
As everyone, I remember that terrible afternoon of now ten years ago. I followed the events closely, and a sense of impotence and rage, as I had never experienced before, has remained with me to this day.
I remember that going to bed I reflected that the worst was to think that once again, there would be no adequate answer and the West would be content with the usual barking and meowing. A sense of decay, of twilight of a civilisation, was how I remember that terrible 11 September 2001.I was absolutely sure that the events would be repeated, that other aeroplanes would go down, if perhaps only every now and then; that we all would have to become accustomed to living with the fear of terror from the skies.
Ten years later, it turns out that I was wrong. Never could the terrorists repeat the actions of the 11 September but most importantly, the attempt to intimidate the West failed miserably as the untested Bush proved, by the grace of God, no Clinton. The reaction of the West came, though not with the speed that I would have wished, and by Christmas 2001 the Western bombs had already helped to take down the Taliban regime, and this alone would have been a message for all those hoping that the West could be cowed into submission by terrorist acts.
But the best was yet to come, with the attacks of 11 September opening the door for an entirely different ways to relate to our Arab, as the word goes, “friends”; in the new post 11 September world, playing stupid would not work anymore: ask Saddam Hussein, whose regime had survived sixteen UN resolutions but did not survive one terrorist attack and the new, no-bullshit world created by it.
But the best was yet to come. The establishment of slow, corrupt, infiltrated, utterly inefficient democracies was still something new and wonderful for most people in the Arab world. Slowly, this new world got them thinking. Once again, a President that the world loved to make fun of – for reasons unknown to me, as he has never been known only to open his mouth in the presence of a teleprompter; astonishingly it is the moron who does so whom people think intelligent – had seen everything right and had correctly understood that once the impenetrable Arab system would be unhinged by the planting of a democracy in its middle, it would be only a matter of time before the entire Arab world would start to understand that democracy is sexy, and it is fully OK to want a piece of it.
Like Reagan, Bush didn’t see his vision realised during his Presidency; but like Reagan, he still had the pleasure of seeing the fruits of his brilliant vision come to fruition shortly thereafter. Only eight years after Iraq’s invasion, it is clear that Iraq was, as we were told at the time among the liberal laughter, the pry used to unhinge the entire Arab world. The situation over there is certainly still fluid, but it will be very difficult to suffocate a once awakened desire for freedom; the courage of the people in Syria, continuing their extremely brave fight without even the hope of a Western military intervention, is a clear sign of what energies can be freed.
Ten years later, the perpetrator of the attacks lies at the bottom of the sea, the object of countless jokes; most of his nearest followers have met the same destiny; two Arab countries have been invaded, showing to the meanest intelligence who is boss, and what happens when the insects bite the giants; from these invasions – making, of course, concessions for the local situations – two democracies have been born, of which at least one seems destined to a somewhat stable future; from these two democracies, a desire for freedom has been engendered all over the Arab world, very possibly leading to the creation of another couple of stable democracies, perhaps more; and from these democracies, the inevitable consequence of parliamentary rule will follow: peace. Democracies don’t wage war against each other, and in a democracy it becomes extremely difficult to inflate anti-Israeli hate to keep people from thinking about the shit they find themselves in, in their own country.
Summa summarum: the old Al Qaeda front almost completely annihilated, never again able to repeat the feat of that day, and in general reduced to try to make bombs out of strange liquids. The Arab world massively and repeatedly humiliated, and two countries invaded outright. Two democracies born of it. Several other democracies on their way to be born because of those two. Israel very probably the biggest beneficiary in the region, particularly if the Syrian regime ends up crumbling. Air traffic undisturbed.
Ten years later, one stops and thinks of the ways of the Lord, and of how out of such evil who affected so many such a hope would be, in time, be born, affecting so many. The scale of the devastation within the US and the shock were unprecedented, but the scale of change in the following ten years has been much, much bigger.
Congratulations Osama, you dumb f*ck. In your own way, you helped achieve something really spectacular.
It was merely the exact contrary of what you wanted.
Listening around to the various radio and video comments (with the usual pattern: European broadcasters cowardly fearing reprisals, American ones proudly extolling the military prowess of the operation) one element has attracted my attention: the subdued, almost shameful satisfaction of the European mood against the open rejoicing – in the street, or even with a marching band on the studio of a famous conservative commenter – experienced the other side of the pond.
Let me first point out to the fact that from a religious point of view you don’t wish death to anyone, let alone hell. You wish their repentance and conversion instead. But this is merely, so to speak, the starting position. From a practical point of view, we must deal with people who do not wish to repent, much less convert and that are in total military opposition to us.
Now I can pray for the conversion of the mad Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new number one of Al Qaeda, as much as I wish, but as long as this doesn’t happen (and frankly: don’t hold your breath, either) the chap is an enemy and a military objective and must be treated accordingly.
This is nothing irreligious, let alone un-Catholic. Catholics don’t “do” pacifism, nor are they ready to treat their enemies as if they were friends. When you are an enemy I can pray for you if I can, but I’ll treat you as such.
We are at war with terrorists. War means that military operations will be put in place, which are aimed at having the enemy either surrender or die. Osama was no exception. This being undoubtedly the case, it is not clear to me why the achieving of such a momentous military objective as the elimination of the commander-in-chief of the enemy camp should be welcomed with less than strong and vocal rejoicing.
On the 7th october 1571, the Christian Armies inflicted an utter defeat to the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. The rejoicing and public celebrations were, notwithstanding the heavy tribute of blood on both sides, immense. This is right so.
What has happened in the early hours of Monday morning in a residential compound in Pakistan does, admittedly, not reach the scale of the victory in Lepanto, but still has the same character: a clear military success over the main enemy of the time. In addition, the complete success of the operation – with no casualties to be lamented on the American side – makes the event even more worth rejoicing.
Is there not rejoicing when, in war-time, the sinking of a prestigious enemy ship is announced, or when the conquest of an important military post is achieved? In both cases blood has flown, but in both cases the accent is not on a kind of sadistic joy for sufferance inflicted, but rather a patriotic joy for a victory obtained. It is not unChristian in the least; on the contrary, it is the way a Christian lives the battle and supports his side.
Osama Bin Laden’s elimination is – I do not think anyone can doubt this – an extremely important symbolic victory for the West. It’s the enemy flag now symbolically planted in front of the Western military camp, and a loud and clear reminder of what happens to the enemies of the West. There’s nothing wrong or irreligious in that, nothing whatever.
It is right to rejoice. Of course it is. I envy the spontaneousness and youthful energy of a country able to get on the streets, some of them in the night and in their pyjamas, to celebrate such a momentous event.
Of course in Europe there wasn’t so much to celebrate. It being clear to everyone that Europe has cowardly chosen to depend on the US military effort in order to have more money to waste in bureaucracy and unChristian socialist policies, there was no way we could see this feat as, in some way, belonging to us too. Still, I can’t avoid thinking that old and weary Europe was more absorbed with the worry about possible future attacks, whilst the youthful and enthusiastic US citizens were bravely defying every enemy, ready for combat and certain of victory.
Ask yourself now which continent is undoubtedly the more Christian, and you’ll have all the answers you need.
I woke up very early this morning (a festivity here in England, and apparently a fine day too) to hear the news that is now going round the world: Osama Bin Laden is dead, killed by a US Navy SEAL commando of 40 in Pakistan.
I won’t do anything to hide from you my sense of satisfaction, of a job well done, and of gratitude and admiration for the brave soldiers who executed this brilliant operation without even a casualty.
A short time later, in front of my hot caffellatte, I wondered how probable it was that the bastard now rots in hell. Rather probable, I would say. Nay, make it very probable. The idea that he would, on his last seconds (and we do not know the details, but from what has transpired it would appear that he has seen it coming; which again doesn’t make me sad, at all), manage to get a perfect contrition is, how should I put it, not entirely believable.
And so I was there, looking into my caffellatte in this glorious sunny morning of victory and justice, and wondering whether I should… pray for Osama Bin Laden’s soul. I pray for the dead (particularly for my dead, I admit; but for all the dead anyway) every day and this prayer is to me not only the compliance with a religious duty but a tender link to beloved people not here with me anymore; moments in which I detach myself from the cares of this world and connect in spirit to the other part of my family, those who are now past those cares, and in which I give back in a small way the endless prayers that – I am sure – several of them have prayed for me and for all those I love. Therefore, praying for the dead is something I love to come back to again and again, just because it is a tender moment.
Should I therefore, now, expressly pray for…… such a bastard? For the epitome of senseless cruelty and fanaticism? Should I pray for him, even if I am almost sure that he rots in hell and the seventy-two virgins might have – more or less metaphorically speaking – turned out to be something like, say, seventy-two angry feminists or seventy-two extremely horny sodomites?
I tried, and I failed. It seemed insincere to pray for someone you feel is in hell. It seemed like I was just making a stupid attempt at “feeling good” (I hate these things, having experienced that people who try to be good and people trying to feel good are two completely different sets of people) with utter disregard for the reality on the ground.
Still – I thought – I do pray every day the Lord that he may “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of [His] mercy”. But this is a generic embrace of suffering humanity and, most importantly, refers to a salvation that is still possible to every one of them. I was, therefore, very unsure.
But then I reflected a bit more, and I realised (always looking at my caffellatte, still too hot to drink) that Jesus must have loved this soul as much as everyone else’s, and that his salvation was as important to him as the one of the greatest of his saints. Seen in this perspective, things changed and I could now envisage praying for him not because I think that he is probably in purgatory (which I don’t), but because after the Holy Ghost has made an effort to recover him for so many years, I can at least put an effort of mercy for a short minute.
I therefore made the sign of the cross and started: “Eterno riposo dona loro, Signore…….“; feeling at the beginning – I admit – slightly stupid in the process but going on the best I could, and repeating the exercise three times.
At the end of the prayer, a strange sensation came to me: not the one of “feeling good” (which I hate), but of a little obstacle that I had overcome: the one of not only knowing, but feeling that the person I despised most on earth was still a beloved child of Christ, a soul of infinite importance. It seemed to me that I had done my duty of forgiveness for the improbable case he has escaped hell, and that I had paid my little homage to his long-suffering Guardian Angel and to the Holy Ghost who both have, I am sure, made so many efforts to save him.
Dear readers, you know that I am absolutely allergic to good-ism and similar bollocks, and that I think that there is a time for peace and a time for war.
Still, there is also a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to kill, and a time to heal.
In this glorious day of victory and justice you may want to try, if you can, to pray for Osama Bin Laden.
It probably won’t do any good to him.
It certainly won’t do any harm to you.
As every one of us, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I thought life as we know it would change. No safe flying anymore, periodic announcements of the next aeroplane gone down, things like that. It may seem stupid to say it now, but it wasn’t so much at the time.
I remembered the terrorist years in Italy: they had started slow and then had become a truly dramatic phase in the life of the Republic. I really thought it would get worse before it gets better.
Nine years later I pray, like everyone else, for the victims of this heinous act.
But I would also like to share some reflections:
1) Huge, huge kudos to the security services and information agencies of all Western countries. It is now nine years and Nine Eleven never repeated. This is a stunning success. Perhaps this was achieved at the price of some rendition flights, some harsh prison conditions and some waterboarding to boot. Fine with me. We’ll never know how many lives have been saved.
2) The declared aim of the terrorists was to change the way we live. To make us feel afraid of living our free way of life. The mission is, emphatically, not accomplished.
3) That terrible day has brought on the Arab world a series of humiliations. Two countries invaded as a result of the attack, several others (like Syria and Jordan) told to choose the right side, sharpish, or face war. The Arab/Mulsim history is full of humiliations from the West (from the First Crusade to the Reconquista, from Lepanto to the European colonisation), but this was a sudden awakening to their utter military and social inferiority, (the religious one goes without saying) on their own ground.
Every Arab now knows that a strike to the West brings back humiliations on a multiple scale of the offence caused. Not a good investment. I wonder how many of them admire those idiots. A very tiny minority, I think.
4) From 9/11, paradoxically, hope also sprang. In Afghanistan, things might become less savage in the next years and in Iraq a most cruel and dangerous dictatorship has been replaced by an uncertain democracy now trying to walk unassisted. If it works in Iraq, democracy might spread to other countries. It will depend on the locals of course, but even from the humiliation of a foreign invasion a new dawn and a new hope has arisen.
As an Italian, I see in this what has happened in my own Country.
5) Bin Laden is just ignored. Forgotten. More dead than Disco for the media, probably truly dead since 2001 or 2002 anyway. Nine years later, he doesn’t even help to sell newspapers anymore. In the meantime, his people continue to die like flies, hunted down all over the planet.
6) Nine years later, the West discovers that it is stronger than ever. Iraq is on the way to trying to become a half-decent country; Afghanistan trying not to become a Taliban state; people in the West are flying, holidaying, living as they did before.
Nine years later, Ronald Reagan’s slogan remains more valid than ever: we win, they lose.