So. Liberians want the US to send troops in to enforce a ceasefire. They're very angry about this. So angry, in fact, that they are throwing rocks at the US Embassy, and piling up bodies outside the complex (also heard on the first two segments on All Things Considered today). NPR played a clip of people screaming, and saying that President Bush murdered those people through inaction. All this while the capital, Monrovia, is being shelled by mortar fire, which the government claims comes from the rebels, but everyone else says it could well be the government.
Give me a fucking break. I'm the first person to stand up and say that President Bush is a fatcat yokel with the intellect of a lobotomized chimpanzee who can barely articulate his belief in the imminent Second Coming, beyond "Any day now!", let alone the complexities of world politics. But blaming the United States for the casualties of their civil war, especially given Somalia, our last joyous experience trying to intervene in Africa, goes well past the threshold of reason. They need a scapegoat, I guess, and the US is always convenient. Everyone loves to hate the 800-pound gorilla, even more so now that the 800-pound gorilla is genuinely being a bullying asshole on a global scale.
There's a very strong voice in my head telling me that if people are going to pile decapitated bodies in front of our embassy in a city under siege to get us to send in "peacekeepers", they should sort out their own fucking civil war (maybe with the help of the neighboring nations who have been supporting it) while we concentrate on the 2 countries we're already doing a poor job of occupying, and if a Democrat wins the White House we could maybe take a look at this deficit that we can pay off by 2090 if the economy can just manage 20 straight years of 15% growth.
Just a thought.
It's never that simple. The people stoning the embassy are terrified noncombatants whose homes are being destroyed and whose family and friends are being killed, and they are helpless.
There's a certain lack of realism about the US, I think, and what exactly we're capable of. I encountered this specifically in Mexico in the months following 9/11, but from observation I believe the misperceptions extend all over. The Mexicans I talked to, at least the ones under 30, thought we should just barrel in and take out Osama bin Laden (remember him? it's been lost in the recent months as we spin the wheel and see which country we're going to invade this year, but he's the guy who originally attacked us, who actually got no support at all from Iraq, and since we can't find him, everyone has conveniently forgotten he exists, let alone exists with a lot of money, a lot of followers, and a continuing hatred for the US; I'm betting that another six months of not finding Saddam Hussein will result in our conveniently forgetting him, and maybe deciding on a Great Big Evil Bad Guy we can actually kill). The Mexicans thought we were just being indecisive or chicken--they didn't understand that the US does actually have checks and balances on its power in the world, although it doesn't usually seem so. If the entire world decided not to play with us, we'd be fucked. Hell, even if just the Arab nations pulled it together and shut us out, we'd have a problem; add an alliance with Russia and/or China and I dunno, maybe you'd have yourself another Cold War. There's certainly enough people in Russia who have convinced themselves that life was better under Stalin.
I tried to explain it to them in whatever language they understood--my Spanish is good enough for politics but not philosophy, so we were well within my vocabulary--but I don't think I could convince them.
I'm always walking a line, it seems, a thin tightrope stretched low above hell. On one side I worry about the future and its apparent limitations, and on the other I am caught up in any of the various awful memories of the past I have at my disposal. The tightrope is focus, concentration, presence, nowness, a constant moving forward and expansion of self, where doubt and worry and sadness fall away like handfuls of leaves being thrown with great force at a passing truck.
Holy crao. That's almost a candidate for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
Meditation helps. About the only thing I've found is to have faith, somewhat justified by experience, that practicing concentration and focus makes it easier to stay focused, so maybe at point I will not feel quite so on the edge.