Thursday, April 17, 2003

The Only Thing We Have To Fear....

Is the Star Tribune editorial board.

In a gravely concerned, cowering editorial today the paper frets about the "season of fear" we're now supposedly experiencing:

A Minneapolis 11-year-old we know had an unexpectedly tepid reaction to last Wednesday's news that Americans were in charge in Baghdad. She allowed that she was pleased, but still worried. "We're just as likely to be hit by terrorists as we were before," she said.

Fear has a lock on Minnesota hearts young and old this season. It's visible in drawn faces, audible in casual conversation. Talk turns easily to war, terrorism, layoffs, earnings loss, government budget cuts, downsized plans, diminished dreams.

The U.S.-led coalition's easy victories buoyed spirits last week. But the news was soon discouraging once more. Chaos seemed countrywide in Iraq, where dark secrets remain suspected, but undiscovered -- and where too many Minnesota sons and daughters are still in harm's way. Unemployment claims made a big jump. The stock market wobbled when it was supposed to soar. Unflappable state economist Tom Stinson said flatly, "We're worried."

Now you can't expect an eleven year old to understand the state of the world and to a youngster's mind the threat of terrorism still may loom as large as ever. But for the rest of who reside in the adult world it should be fairly obvious that the victory in Iraq has indeed reduced our risk of terrorism. Just as the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan deprived terrorists of a base of support and a refuge so does the defeat of Saddam's regime. Already we have accomplished the following:

- A radical Islamic group, Ansar Al-Islam, with ties to Al Qaeda has been crushed in northern Iraq by the Kurds assisted by US Special Forces

-A major training facility, apparently jointly operated by the Iraqis and Palestinians, has been found by U.S. Marines near Baghdad

- Salman Pak, where the Iraqis are alleged to have trained terrorists using a commercial airplane for practice, has been put out of business

- Terrorist residing in Iraq like Abu Abbas have been captured, killed, or are running for their lives

- The chances of terrorists acquiring WMD are much lower now without the help of a sponsor state like Iraq

The threat is still there and we should continue to be vigilant. The war on terror is by no means won. But we've made a great deal of progress and I for one feel a hell of lot better than I did a year and a half ago.

And while the economy is certainly not performing at the levels we would all like we're hardly living through another Great Depression here as the Strib editorial suggests. Diminished dreams? I know a few people out of work (most of them bloggers oddly enough) and while their lives would certainly be brighter if the economy picked up and companies started hiring again I don't think any of them of sitting around contemplating taking a couple of hits off the gas pipe because they no longer have dreams.

Worry is one thing. Fear quite another.

I remember the night of 9/11 trying to fall asleep and instead of the usual steady drone of commercial airliners, hearing the sound of F-16's flying combat air patrols over Minneapolis. Now THAT is fear. The heart palpating, forehead sweating, rats gnawing at your intestines kind of fear that burrows into your soul and shakes you to the core.

Today I still worry but I no longer fear.

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