December 21, 2003

Condition Orange Forever?

Tom Ridge's warning is designed in part to prepare the American mind for the flaming bolt out of the December sky, when Osama Bin Laden sets his perverse and fiery star against the original at Bethlehem. And we are ready, though not prepared. -- Belmont Club

By now we've become almost inured to the periodic appearance of the avuncular Tom Ridge announcing that our national terror traffic light has changed. I suppose this reliance on colors to indicate the eagerness of Islamic terrorists to kill Americans wholesale is an effective way of communicating bad news to people of all levels of intelligence and interest, but it also reverses Hannah Arendt‘s observation on the banality of evil to the banality of the good.

Invariably these announcements bear familiar footnotes. “Increased traffic,” “more chatter,” and “credible sources” are chanted in this catechism of immanent death. Yes, all the accouterments of doom are pinned to one color, Orange. Next step, Red. Which means “Get your game face on, it’s going down.”

But what will be “It” and what will rise from the ashes of “It?”

“It” means, in our present era, a successful strike by “fringe” members of the Islamic faith on the American homeland.

A short laundry list of "It" could include things like:
1) “Massacres in shopping malls,"
2) “Large conventional explosions in one or several American cities in a short time that yield hundreds, preferably thousands of innocent and very dead Americans,”
3) “A CBW attack that infects or poisons and kills hundreds or thousands of American in short order,
4) “A ‘dirty bomb’ attack in a major center of commerce such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago,”
-- or, courtesy of Iran, North Korea, Russia or elsewhere, --
5) “The detonation of an atomic weapon in an American city”

Any one or combination of the above would be the Terrorists' Trifecta.

“Success” in this instance will be measured in 911 Units (One 911=3,000 dead Americans).

Will we see a 2x911 day, a 10x911 day, a 100x911 day or worse? Given our current policies of slow, careful, considered, thoughtful politically-correct preemption, any one of the above is likely. Indeed, given our leaders' manifest unwillingness to dedicate the nation to a state of total war, it is a virtual certainty that one of these days is already marked on the calendar of the future.

It is no longer a question of whether or not thousands or tens of thousands of Americans will die here upon our soil, it is a question of which Americans they shall be. If not this year, next year or the year after. It is a “when” not an “if.” It will happen in a major city or a major suburb. Yours? Theirs? Near or elsewhere? No real sacrifice equal to that asked of our Armed Forces has yet been asked of American civilians. We have been left pretty much undisturbed in our urban stupor. But our day is approaching.

The question of why our leaders have not “made America safe” from this day of reckoning is a fair one but the answer is a hard truth.

They have not made America safe from the next catastrophic attack because we have not yet, as Americans, been ready for them to do so. Strange as it may seem, 3,000 of us slaughtered at their desks has not been enough to stir

us. As a society we have become so sodden with peace and so frightened of history that we require more deaths among us before we can act. And so we shall have them.

In a democracy such as ours, our elected leaders cannot lead us into anything as terrible as total war. It is us, the citizens, who go their first. And, as citizens in the main, we have shown ourselves so far to be craven and cowardly in embracing what history has brought to our land and will continue to bring until we understand, from the mounds of our dead, that the only answer to this challenge is to utterly and without remorse or hindrance, destroy our enemies root and branch.

This fact the great majority of us already know in our bones. We also know in our bones that we possess the terrible power to act and bring this to a close as we brought the last great totalitarian war to a close. But knowing and acting are two different universes in America on this early evening of 21 December 2003.

Everything we have done since September 11 has been, to be frank, not total war but an 'effort at management.' It will not avail us. Nothing other than total war will remove Condition Orange from our lives. Still, to act we require a second atrocity.

Instead of acting upon what we know, we have preferred to linger in our snug, safe and small worlds, hoping that our enemies are -- like the cartoon villains of our 24/7 cable channels -- full of two dimensional bluff and bluster and with no more power over us than the Wicked Witch of the West. One small bucket of water and let the melting begin.

We are fools adrift in our crapulous culture. Our enemies depend upon this. We are asleep and we live in a dream of angels' wings and babies’ bottoms. Our enemies depend upon this. But our dream is a nightmare of denial from which history is about to awaken us. And strange as it may seem, this is also what our enemies yearn for.

More and more these days I find myself making a point to follow and read The Belmont Clubfor its tone of insight blended with eloquence. Like all such places, I go there because I find it agreeable, and as we all know, an agreeable place is a place that agrees with one. Still, I found myself in a rare disagreement with the inaptly named “Wretchard” when he looked at Condition Orange and saw:

” if the AQ can kill 10,000 Americans, they could psychologically reverse the entire course of the War on Terror. A second or worse September 11 coming at the end of the American operations in Afghanistan and Iraq would enshrine Howard Dean's conclusion that it has "not made America safer" into the Pantheon of half-truths. It would endanger the re-election of George W. Bush. It would drop a mantle of weariness on the American people. It would make them wonder, after Kabul and Baghdad, what they would have to do for an encore. Of that answer, the AQ will not think. But for now, the false and glittering prize awaits, the operational risks are disregarded. This is the logic of the banzai charge and kamikaze operation. And if history is no false guide, the banzai charge will take place.
“Of that answer, AQ will not think.” Oh, I don’t believe that. I believe that AQ will and have thought of it. It is the only thing they think of and yearn for. And they know, better than Howard Dean and his quivering minions and fellow travelers, what that answer will be.

America, throughout it’s history, has been subject to recurrent spiritual phenomena known as “Great Awakenings.” These are periods when spiritual values, almost always associated with Christianity, swell up within the people of America until they dominate daily and political life. This has been our heritage from before the founding of the Republic and remains rooted deep in our culture today.

Indeed, regardless of the rantings and wishes of the elite elements of America, a Great Awakening has been going on in the heartland and among the hearts of the American people for some time now. This is, of course, typically viewed by our media and by the fringe cultures that dwell in our coastal cities as something they prefer to call “Right-Wing Religious Fanaticism.” It is not that, of course, but it makes them feel safe and superior to call it such.

I believe that what we are seeing on a spiritual level throughout the country is the preparation our people to confront a challenge to our existence, core values and faith by a foreign enemy committed to our destruction.

The ascendancy of George W. Bush to the Presidency; the vast realignment of the mass of the people in terms of party affiliation signaled by the 2002 elections; the tectonic shift of opinion that every day supports more unilateralism and greater preemption in foreign affairs. All this and more signals a sea change in the attitude of the American Republic at the beginning of this century.

And all of this waits upon a mere change of color from orange to red. All of this portends the answer to the question that AQ will ask with its next horrific attack on the American Homeland.

And that answer will not be to “enshrine Howard Dean's conclusion,” nor will that answer “endanger the reelection of Bush.” Neither of these things will comprise the answer of the American Republic to a second attack.

The answer will be to give, in a greater measure than every before seen on Earth, the Totalitarian impulse of Islam what all totalitarian sects have always sought for over two hundred years -- a harvest of death brought to them more swiftly and more horribly and more certainly than the answer that was given to Japan following the banzai charges and kamikaze attacks of the Second World War.

The leaders of AQ are the greatest theologians of Islam of the last 200 years. They know, in their bones, that their religion no longer has, on Earth, any chance of ever becoming the prime religion of mankind. That place has been usurped forever by the Religion of Freedom. Islam is, regardless of its "growth" among the wretched of the Earth, a dying faith. Submission cannot triumph over Freedom.

And knowing this, they know that since Islam cannot ever reign in life, they have chosen a path that gives it some hope of reigning in the afterlife. But to do that they need fresh recruits in the millions to accompany them into the darkness. Their path is to the pit. This is their program and their goal. To accomplish it they have chosen to attack without mercy the one power on Earth that, once compelled to total war, is able and will very soon be willing to accommodate them in their sick desire.

To do so will involve us in what can only be seen as a great sin, but it will be the only answer our enemies will accept. For causing us to sin on this level, to deal death to millions, is the main reason we must hate this enemy, and from this sin I hope we shall learn to take our gift, damaged as it may be, out to the surviving members of the faith. We have done this before and the aftermath of this coming war will be more terrible than the last. Still, we must become committed to this path. It is that or accept that the world will be doomed to live in Condition Orange forever. And that is a condition in which real freedom can never blossom for us or for the Earth.

In his mawkish way, Howard Dean is correct in saying that nothing we have done has made America safer. To follow the current policies or those of Dean is to insure than nothing will ever be done to make America safer. But we are not the sole masters of history now. We can only wait until our enemies, in their lust for the death of themselves and their religion, take us to the next level.

What follows from Condition Orange is Condition Red. What follows from that is the obliteration of many nations, millions of people, and one of the world’s major religions. Dean and the quislings and appeasers among us will not have to fret that our leaders might take us there. We will take them.

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Posted by Vanderleun at December 21, 2003 5:27 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

One of the best written blog posts I've read in awhile.

Posted by: Matt at December 22, 2003 12:05 AM

A sobering thought indeed.

Posted by: Stephen at December 22, 2003 8:47 PM

if it makes you feel the preciousness of life any better, you're welcome to your point of view, and i would happily ignore you and get along with my life, except i feel the negativity implicit in this article could be virulent enough to cause what it decries, or appears to.
i commend you on your good prose, and if the hanukah poem is yours, nice poetry too.
i do feel impelled to comment though that nuking islam is not a good idea, and i don't believe anyone but a dangerously disturbed individual would consider it.
your text imples that there is a vast swathe of deeply felt support for the current pre-emptive ways of the administration amongst the american people, and that they feel that it is christian to think that way.
i believe it comes down to resources and decency.
islam teaches discipline and decorum, something that christianity has hardly the will to try to do, especially after certain recent revelations about the western churches.
i would hate the islam meme to prevail, finding it regressive, barely post-medieval, and often barbaric. it does however communicate tremendous strength of purpose to its practicants, with abhorrent results.
your hateful idea is on the same level, imo.
making a bunch of martyrs out of a chunk of one of the most powerful (if largely deluded) world religions is so cretinous as to be unbelievable.
your website is really clear and easy on the eye, and your mind is quirky enough to be quite interesting, in this pablum age. i'm not surprised you have so little feedback though, you sound so insular in your pettiness sometimes.
i have bookmarked you as the only site where i go that i knew i would disagree with you politically probably 100% within seconds of imbibing at your well.
i come back wondering if you'll attract any serious (or playful) feedback of any quality, leading to dialogue, trialogue or better.
no luck.
vanity sites are ok, if aesthetic enough.
you must feel lonely, being intelligent. what made you warp to such a hard right position?
it's sad.
i love the open threads at kos. do you read them?
they're about the best belly laughs around the web, i reckon.
today's one on the colour coding reminded me of what you're offering on the subject.
no such laughs on your site, however, just the reiteration of the same old apocalyptic rhetoric that made me spend most of my 20's and 30's in a state of paranoia.
it's humour that will save us, if anything, and heart.
language is a wonderful gift, soft and powerful as water.
you have a great skill, please do not let it be wasted creating stuff like this. it's hitlerian in its moral perversity, and as absurdly reductionist in its proposed solution as were his plans for order and lebensraum.
your belief system is built on a huge flaw. the coming shakeup in attitudes you so correctly predict will thankfully be a polar opposite to what you espouse, and and once you see that's where the fun will be, rebuilding trust and removing the stimulus for islamic rage, not poking a stick into a hornets' nest, or better analogy: loosing off more ordinance and racist hatred into the massive arms magazine that is the middle east.
if we cleaned up our act in the west, sorted our energy needs, the money wasted in iraq insuring big oil et al. could be used in helping the peoples of the many other nations oppressed under tyranny, but without oil.
i don't mean necessarily with military means either.
there are a lot more flies caught with honey than vinegar, after all.
more programs to spread sustainable basic programs like clean water, eco-exploitation of resources, renewable energy, wi-fi, internet build us friendships that gradually transcend creed, because they don't depend on religion, but spirituality, which honours all humans as children equal alongside the creator.
i urge you to reconsider, and get a few laughs, if you still remember how.
thanks for listening.
good luck!

Posted by: michael merriman at December 24, 2003 3:25 AM

Merriman's piece, with its well-nigh interminable flow of verbal burble, is a perfect example of the soporific denial that Vanderleun's post excoriates.

There are two and only two kinds of people living in the U. S.: those who are capable of understanding the grim truth that Vanderleun's post hammers home; and those like Merriman who will either awaken or die, which ever comes first.

I find myself agreeing that only another and more devastaging attack than 9/11 is going to wake this country up to the relentless and remoseless threat that it faces. And then it will indeed understand finally that extreme measures are the only ones capable of defending this country.

Al-Quaeda, and that part of the Islamic world whose suicidal malaise supports it, will have to be destroyed root and branch. It has thrown down the gauntlet, and the challenge is breathtakingly simple: either we destroy you, or if you wish to avoid destruction we leave you no alternative but to destroy us instead.

America has faced a similar challenge during the island hopping campaign in the Pacific durring WW2. The Japanese soldier refused to surrender even after the defense of an island was hopeless. They were sending a message to the American soldiers (and to the Americans back home) that said: "If you wish to conquer is we leave you no alternative but totally annihilating us (and the additional losses you will have to suffer as a conquence)."

And it was the quite probable prospect of the same demand for total annihilation as the price of victory in the Japanese defense of the home islands that caused the first and only use of atomic weapons in pursuit of a military objective.

Thus Vanderleun's prediction of a similarly annihilating response to a second attack on the American homeland already has a historical precedent.

With Islamist terrorism's challenge all but nailed to the spine of this planet, it is clear that the Merrimans among us also know, but are too frightened to admit it, that this stark choice is in fact the only one on the table.

Posted by: Michael McCanles at December 24, 2003 9:02 PM

has it occurred to you that possibly it is not americans, or even america that is so hated, but its foreign policy?
these fanatics are not open to much in the way of reason or dialogue, yet the future generations may well be, if we presented a different face to the rest of the world.
imperial behaviour is rarely appreciated, except by quislings and puppets, of which there have never been a shortage to add fawning and sycophancy to fuel an already incendiary, societally solipsistic worldview that downgrades other nations as less valuable.
their methods are execrable, no discussion there; how do you think they became that twisted, was it just an ungodly mix of the koran and hatred given along with mothers' milk that rendered them thus?
their conclusions about us may be entirely erroneous. can we really and honestly say they have no legitimate grievances?
upriver from this phenomenon lies the cause, and none of us are innocent, save the children, because by default, willy-nilly we are part of this and we have allowed these causes to sprout and prosper with our implicit blessing.
i hope with all my heart you and those sharing your soporific, frightened worldview will awaken from the delusional corner your denial has painted you into, and enable you to enjoy civilised discourse with those with whom you agree to disagree, in a spirit of humility and appreciation for differing points of view.
disagreeing with the message is fine, but trying to tar me with adjectives makes the same mistake i did, swept away by horror, in my post above.
perhaps dialogue is fruitless between two such polarised opinions, but there again, perhaps not.
it would depend on the participators' capacity to liberate themselves from the folly of simplistic, black-and-white thinking, and their respect for the art of courtesy, a rare and lovely phenomenon.
may your nightmare never come true.......
if i am as deluded as i think you are, then fair enough: i'd rather die with my present system of beliefs than pass for living with one like your's.
if my intuition is correct, you think i might have to!
me, i hope you can allow other points of view, no matter how burbling, to occasionally cross your screen, without sinking into snarling from the pit whence it seems you chose to view the world.
best wishes from across the abyss that widens between us,
absolute certainty is absolute folly, in physics and in communication.
surely you must have understood that, with the obvious intelligence you display!
sleep well.......

Posted by: michael merriman at December 25, 2003 7:14 PM

While I cannot hope to parry with the two of you in your hyper-extended,self aggrandising syntax, one thing rings clear:Mr Merriman ia like a boxing announcer who has never tasted his own blood. To think that radical Islamic terrorists, bent ,once again, on murdering thousands of our citizens as they go peacably about their day can be dissuaded by our relying on less foreign oil and softening our already generous and philanthropic worldview (we are by far the worlds largest humanitarian donors) is, in my view,the worst kind of head in the sand appeasement imaginable. The unpleasant, but undeniable fact is that there are evil intentions out there,bent on mass murder. It would be nice, Michael, if it were not so, but wishing will not change a thing. As for your thought that you would rather perish in your worldview than live in the one outlined by Mr. Vanderleun,I must reccomend that you retreat to your bed, pull the blankets over your head, and stay there.
As to how he came to such a hard position on the subject, I think I can address that one for you.
He lived in the City at the time, and saw the Towers fall with his naked eyes, and then made it his business, over the next several weeks to attend dozens of funerals, untill he could no longer endure them.Perhaps this would have galvanised your political views as well. That being said, civilised discourse is critical to our nation arriving at the best course of action, and I applaud you for your eloquent posts. I have watched Vanderleun morph into the hard liner that he has become,and, being a New Yorker, it occours to me that if you do not realise that the gauntlet has been irrevocably thrown down, you are simply not paying attention.
Myron Schpuggelstein.

Posted by: schpuggelstein at December 29, 2003 9:15 PM
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