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The Tally Ho

Monday, April 19, 2004

Bombs Over Baghdad = Bombs Over Europe

From the international perspective on things, our lives have all changed more dramatically than American lives. Over the past years, Americans have spent their lives living in fear of terrorism, buying bottled water and canned food, complaining about longer lines at airports, and refusing to fly (my mother). Putting 9/11 casualties aside, let's look at the fate of civilians around the world in the Post 9/11/2001 aftermath. There is little need to discuss the way in which BushCo compiled its "Coalition" for the Iraq war, but Europe--as we all know--was less than pleased with it. Now, all of us in Europe are reeling from the decisions of BushCo. This is the point in the discussion where I should remind everyone of Madrid and 200+ civilian losses there or discuss international civilian hostages in Iraq. But, I want to look at the average citizen. Has the average American life really changed (apart from employment and standard of living) since Beta Bush administration and the War on Terror? My experience is no--correct me if I am wrong, but Americans still live in their cozy suburban neighborhoods, drive their cars to work work, fly to Florida or wherever else for vacation, and have few realistic worries of terrorism. In my mind, there two possible reasons for this. One reason is that "Homeland Security" is doing its job. The other is that it is only a matter of time.

However, on the other side of the Atlantic (you know, all of those European allies from the last 50 years that we isolated with the war in Iraq and would have completely lost if they were not dependent on our economy) life is different. Bush's "with us or against us" policy held Europe hostage. Spain proved that. If you support BushCo in an accessible part of the world, you will be a target. Hundreds of pages of international news coverage has been dedicated to reassuring Europeans that even if you didn't support BushCo, you're still a target. French and German press has been adamant about this. So, I ask you, "If we were protecting the world from this terrorist threat, why are we the only 'safe' nation in the world?" Steve found it interesting when I mentioned that the French authorities frequently close the metro. Yes, in the past month, I have been stuck on the metro due to bomb scares, threats, intelligence, and suspicious packages at least 12 times. One such stop was due to American intelligence received about a specific train at a specific time (Lucky for me, it's the RER A that I take almost every day through Paris). In addition, the SNCF (France's basic passenger railway) discovered a buried bomb on one of its lines in the countryside. But, such stories are buried deep in American press--to my knowledge, only the stop that came from American intelligence was reported in the States and was second-class news. What is most amazing about all of this is that the French citizens aren't scared. They ride the metro every day. They continue their lives. They don't panic. Perhaps if we all were a little more rational about life and death, we wouldn't be fighting frivolous wars. And, if the American public really knew the consequences that BushCo's foreign policy has had on the rest of the world's citizens, we might be a little more tolerant of European dissention to American foreign policy and perhaps more Americans would reevaluate their opinions on the war on terrorism and its real "benefits" to safety.


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