While I didn’t cheer Osama’s death or feel instant satisfaction that this country was on the right course again (“It’s the economy stupid”), this week’s issue of Time magazine had some incredible noteworthy articles in it. The magazine challenged its writers to reflect not just on the news of the day, but on the past decade that began the Bush described “War on Terror.” What transpires in the magazine is some brilliant reporting and fascinating analysis on our modern world. Two articles stand out for me in particular; “When Terror Loses Its Grip” by Fareer Zakaria and Nancy Gibb’s “Second Thoughts” piece entitled “Where Victory Lies.”
Gibb’s piece really brings home the sense ofAmerica’s naiveté prior to 9/11, as she relays a story about her own 7 and 4-year-old daughters on that historic day nearly ten years ago. On 9/11, Gibb was in the car listening to a “safe and sunny” oldies station when the music broadcast was interrupted with news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. To which Gibb’s 4-year-old commented on how the men flying the planes should have been more careful. Gibb’s 7-year-oldquickly instructed her younger sister that it was no accident and that those men meant to knock down the buildings. Gibbs writes:
“And I wondered. When was it, somewhere along the way, that she had discovered the presence of evil in the world? At 4, it was unthinkable. By 7, it was undeniable. She did not need fairy tales; she knew what evil looked like, smelled like, and I wondered exactly how and when that had happened – and whether it happened sooner for children like her, born into peace and prosperity and then baptized on a beautiful fall day by cataclysm.”
Writing doesn’t get any better than that – period. Gibbs opens her piece with this emotionally real-life metaphor for what the entire country was feeling that day ten years ago. She goes on to state that for all the terrorists’ efforts, we as Americans, at our heart, have been left mostly unchanged. It’s a gleaming piece about how the terrorists attempted to change our will and didn’t. The article ends with this passage:
“We didn’t seal our borders; immigration actually rose. We still fly, and with e-tickets no less. We’re a more vigilant society but just as rambunctious. We argue with each other, join the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps. And across the world, all through the Middle East, we watch the kids Bin Laden hoped would be his foot soldiers choose peaceful change instead. Our kids learned early about evil. But they grew up learning how it is fought.”
Zakaria’s piece, very unlike Gibbs take a more in-depth look at what is going on in the Middle East right now and how Bin Laden’s death doesn’t really mean that much to a region who has long since moved on from what he was selling. Zakaria, who famously wrote after 9/11 the article “Why They Hate Us,” paints a remarkable and insightful picture of how the Middle East is changing right in front of us. He writes about how the central issue in the region has been the “stagnation and repression of the Arab world – 40 years of tyranny and decay” which led to the extremists movements of Al-Qaeda and how their venom really had little to do with us directly (Look out – the same thing is happening in most African nations as we breathe).
Zakaria stipulates that these movements only found their grounding in mosques because religion was the only thing dictators couldn’t ban. It was the one place people weren’t censored and thus opposition was born within the walls of the mosques. American became the enemy only because we propped up and sent aid to the oppressive dictators the people hated (think Iraq,Egypt,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan). “Al-Qaeda is a Saudi-Egyptian alliance that was formed to topple the Saudi and Egyptian regimes and others like them.” Their interests weren’t against America but America’s support for the oppression against them.
Zakaria also details how the “Arab Spring” has shattered what Al-Qaeda hopped to achieve. He even goes as far as to say the nation-building that George W. Bush preached about in Iraq had a direct effect in bringing about the “Arab Spring” of rebellions. People got a taste for freedom in the region and wanted it for themselves.
The article has some great insight and paints both the Obama and Bush administrations as having a profound effect on what is happening today in the Middle East and how Al-Qaeda as a global threat has been greatly diminished.
These two articles alone are worthy of the newsstand price. Run out and get a copy. There’s some really great award-worthy journalism between the covers. And, of course, the cover itself is a keepsake. Good stuff!