The Two Way Street

Politics for a New Generation


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Ding Dong the Witch is Dead?

Osama Bin Ladin has been killed, say senior white house officials

Waiting for Obama to speak on Bin Ladin's death

When the twin towers fell, I was only in 1st grade. The photos that evoke tears in so many Americans, in all honesty, never registered to me emotionally; I look at them the same way a modern Christian looks at a cross (an image meant to create shock and horror, since it was a form of execution), I know what it’s supposed to symbolize, and yet I have no emotional reaction them. I remember my mom trying to explain the even to me, mentioning words like “Taliban” and “Terrorism”, none of which meant a thing to me at the time, as we pulled out of the circular drive of my elementary school. It was all a blur of strong parents wiping away tears and omnipotent teachers breaking down in front of their classes, who hadn’t a clue what was going on. Some of the older kids were informed of what had happened, but maybe they thought it would scare us too much, or maybe they figured we’d never really get it (which we didn’t), so they left it to our parents, all of whom picked us up early after school to tell us what had happened.

Obama's address to the nation streaming live on msnbc.com

When I first heard the news of Bin Ladin’s death, I was overjoyed. A news junkie enjoying a quiet evening, I received a breaking news tweet saying that obama had called an emergency press conference to announce something related to foreign policy, I opened up my laptop and began searching for live streaming footage from the White House. Upon seeing on CBS News’s website that Bin Ladin had been killed, I immediately called my family, and began to rejoice, as would be expected. I’ve been waiting for this day more than half of my life, and to see it finally come is an experience beyond words. From the “War is Not the Answer” signs that popped up in yards and on bumper stickers, to the capture of Saddam Hussein (and the talk of why Bin Ladin still hadn’t been found), up until today’s events, I’ve been waiting for this moment to come. But as a lot of people, myself included, are forgetting, is that this evil man was a person, that his wasn’t the only life lost, including that of a woman used as a human shield. There is no victory without collateral damage.

Anyone else see the iconic tea party "Don't tread on me" flag in the crowd?

I can’t help but wonder that the death of a human, no matter how terrible he was, can elicit such massive celebrations. I wonder if this is how supporters of Al Qaeda reacted to the news of the 9/11 attacks. When we forget the humanity in us, the humanity in each other, we see things like the horrors of September 11th. It’s natural for one to take some sort of comfort in the death of an enemy, but as we’ve seen over the past 10 years, the hatred of a particular, extremist group of Muslims has often grown and been distorted into a categorical hatred of all Muslims within the United States, outlining the hunger for an us-versus-them (or U.S.-versus -them) mentality among low-education Americans. We also forget that suicide bombers were once ordinary people: the easiest way to get an education is some Middle-Eastern and Southwest-Asian countries is though extremist organizations looking for recruits. In our War on Terror, both sides have lost track of our humanity, and the humanity of our opponents. Forget about Osama Bin Ladin, Terrorism, and Radical Islam: forgetting the significance of a life is what caused 9/11.

Check back in for more updates on the Bin Ladin story; results; repercussions; predictions.

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BASTARDS?

The cover of the examiner from 9/12/01

Nine year ago today, the cover of the San Francisco examiner read in bold, capital letters BASTARDS! At the time, this seemed reasonable. People read the enormous letters as a collective speech bubble above the head of America. They were depressed, they were terrified, but most of all, they were furious. They were furious with Al Qaeda, furious with the middle east, furious with the TSA, furious with the CIA, and furious with God for letting something so tragic and horrific happen to America. As the smoke and debris from the burning symbol of American capitalism smothered the financial district, and anger previously unknown to the nation boiled under its skin. The subtitle, beneath the giant bold letters, beneath the plumes of fire and ash exploding from the building, nestled between thick black lines, sat the words they should have read, the words that, nine years later, commonly sit upon our tongues, the words, that at the time seemed insignificant but now stand as tall as the towers once did: “A Changed America”.

Today a common reference point for our lives, 9/11, stands as the day we lost our sense of security. It was the first attack to the homeland, aside from the distant Pearl Harbor since the war of 1812, since America became a world of power, since America transcended the status of “nation” to become an idea. And we, cowering in the proverbial corner, realized that this idea was being attacked, and, brought America to her feet to stand up for our ideals and way of life.┬áBut, rather than seeing the smaller red letters at the bottom of the page, we stood up, the big, black, bold anger running through us, and with the enormous insults and anger running through our bleeding red, white, and blue veins, we lost sight of what the terrorists were attacking: freedom.

9/11 is often referenced as the end to privacy. From the Patriot Act, to taking off your shoes, sweaters, bags, hats, and jewelry at the airport, to various 4th amendment violations for those accused of terror, we’ve allowed our privacy to be invaded to epic degrees to avoid a reprise of that horrific day. But beyond our privacy, beyond abandonment of 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendment rights for those suspected of terror, lies another, perhaps worse change that 9/11 has brought us: many of us live in fear and hatred of Muslims. While the cover of the examiner may have been referring to the select few radicals who planned and executed the hijackings, Far too many Americans took this to mean the entire religion, took the radical fringe to be the entire religion, and their anger at the injustice festered into a deep-seated hatred, scape-goating the entire Islamic religion for the actions of a few deeply disturbed, brainwashed lunatics, allowing them to transcend the entire religion’s history of peace, love, and tolerance. Among the graves of the many unfortunate victims from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of heroes in Pennsylvania lays, with no headstone to mark it, with its loved ones in denial of its death, lays America’s tolerance.


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How Russia is Responsible for Al Qaeda, The Taliban, and Every Other Problem in the Middle East

In 2002, the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the radical, newly installed regime that toppled the Northern Alliance the day before 9/11. In December of 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, toppling a long-standing, stable monarchy. In the January of the following year, the united states led by senator Charlie Wilson and CIA operatives began supplying the Mujahadeen, or Freedom Fighters with missiles, and then training. Soon, the U.S. was training freedom fighters from all over the Muslim war to combat the Communist Russians. Once the soviet Union finally left Afghanistan, the Afghani Mujahadeen began to morph into a new group, a group that wore black paint around their eyes, grew long beards, and kept their women in burqas. They called themselves the students of Islam, or the Taliban. Many of the out of state mujahadeen, formed another group, Al Qaeda, meaning, The Base. At first Al Qaeda was not pitted against the US, focusing their energy on local governments, but then, in 1995, in the midst of a battle with the Soviets for Saudi oil, Osama Bin Ladin, the group’s leader, was kicked out of Saudi Arabia under pressure from the United States, Upon which Bin Ladin declared war on the US.

There are other connections to other conflicts as well, such as the willingness of the former soviet state to sell arms to the highest bidder, allowing for groups such as Hammas to assemble an arsenal. Old soviet weaponry is all over the middle east in the hands of both governments and extremist groups, some of it sold, others discarded during the soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The first Gulf War was initiated, partially, because George Bush Senior knew that Republicans made popular wartime presidents, and felt that a war would assist his re-election. The conflicts in Iran, as mentioned in a previous article, have increased severity because, first, Russia is supplying Iran with many of its weapons, and supplies for nuclear bombs, mostly because of Russian dependence on Iranian oil. On top of that, not only is Russia supplying Iran, they would also back them up in the case of war with the United States. There are two things to be learned from this history lesson. First, oil is political currency, and second: Russia caused the troubles in the middle east. The collapse of an empire will inevitably end in conflict for the land within, as exemplified in the end of World War I into II and II into the cold war. In the modern world of America, New enemies and demons will inevitably spring from the carcasses of the old, and, unless we change, to borrow the world of Martin Luther King jr, “hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”


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Stale Hope, Fresh Uranium: America’s Relationship With Iran

In 1953, the CIA and British Intelligence overthrew Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s first popularly elected leader. Even though, for the better part of the 20th century the US has been a strong advocate for the right of the people to elect a leader, we participated in a coup destroying that elementary right, for fear that the new government would favor the Russians. Instead of democracy, the Shah returned to power, bringing back the oppression and cruelty of before the original revolution. Since then, America has taken a hypocritical approach to foreign policy involving Iran, mostly in order to avoid an alliance between Iran and Russia. Yet now, Because Russia is so dependent upon Iran for their non-domestic oil, if NATO were to attack Iran, Russia would be dragged into the battle, emulating the Chinese involvement in the Korean War.

In 1975, National Geographic published an article about Iran expressing hope for its future, discussing Iran’s oil money and enginuitive spirit. Three years before the start of the Islamic Revolution, Iran was a rising tourist destination for Americans. But as violence began to erupt, eventually provoking the flee of the Shah, America became cold to Iran. Under Ahmedinejad, Iran began to pursue nuclear capabilities, and Bush became wary. America mildly threatened use of military power against Iran, but even then, they knew the consequences. Then, in June, Ahmedinejad and the Ayatollah, Iran’s supreme religious leader, rigged the election in Ahmedinejad’s favor. When the followers of Moussavi, the opposition candidate, began to protest, America stated that it didn’t care in order to preserve diplomacy, even though Moussavi is far more aligned with American ideals.

When Iran is involved, America is hypocritical and painstakingly cautious with everything we say and do. Why does Iran mean so much? Russia. As stated before, Russia is dependent upon Iran, and is therefore motivated to involve themselves in any military campaign of Iran’s, and a conflict with Russia could easily end in nuclear war. But is the delicacy paying off? Not really. The majority of Ahmedinejad supporters still have death-wishes for America, the Ayatollah still dislikes us, and the US friendly candidate lost by election fraud. Essentially, this two-faced, coded message isn’t working. It’s time to give Iran what everyone deserves: straight talk.