Is anyone surprised by today’s version of the “Pentagon Papers” released in New York, Berlin, and London? I once worked for a guy who had as one of his management aphorisms: “Be careful not to manage a mistake.” When Bush and Cheney took their eyes off the ball in 2003 and shifted the bulk of the military effort to Iraq, the Afghanistan initiative was lost, as I see it. Almost worse, though, is the way the US was left holding the war-bag in that part of the world. If 9/11 wasn’t enough to make the advanced nations around the globe stand together against the extremists responsible for the barbaric acts, then what will it take?
Way back in the mid-2000’s one of the TV talking heads said something that stuck with me: “Why don’t we make them fight all of us?” Essentially, he was talking about an economic boycott of the cash cow of that region: oil. His challange to all of us was to change our lives—fast. Fast enough to drastically reduce the flow of cash from the West to the Middle East. He was convinced that such a move would quickly get the attention of enough decision-makers in that neighborhood and push them to push for a resolution to the various conflicts that keep bleeding us in every way. And it’s a non-violent strategy. But it requires massive mobilization and shared sacrifice. My hunch is that people are ready to be asked to take action. There’s got to be a way out of this, no?
And all of this affects everyone in Lowell and Louisville and Los Angeles every day. If it’s not a family member or friend or neighbor in harm’s way, then it’s the drain on national resources that degrades the public sector in all communities. We’re paying a price for the chaos even if it seems removed from our daily existence. I think of my friend Mehmed Ali in Baghdad doing his best to stop things from falling apart in that city. When I sit in my backyard on a day like today with a cooling breeze bending the tops of tall green trees, I want to be sure I don’t forget Ali, who is only a matter of hours away by jet. It hardly seems like it can be the same world.