There was no bomber, no missile that could target that terror; so the men and women in power took aim at what they defined as terrorists and sponsors of terrorism instead.
It felt good. “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord,” but aggrieved Americans were eager to do the Lord’s work. We’d find ‘em. We’d get ‘em. Kandahar. Kabul. Tora Bora…
When in doubt, send in the Marines.
Yet there, beneath the bluster and bravado, we did have doubts. We asked and reasked, “Why do they hate us?” but never paused to listen for the answer – and if we did, ignored, discounted or denied the possibility of it being true.
Instead we sent soldiers, bombs and planes. If their hearts and minds were out of reach, there always seemed to be an ass ready to be kicked.
We assured ourselves that we were on the high road, in hot pursuit of cowardly fanatics who brought fear to innocent people going about their daily business. Ours was a righteous anger.
But in the smug fury of our war making little thought was given to how cruise missiles, drone strikes – the full panoply of our military “shock and awe” — would be greeted by innocent people going about their daily business. Watching the fighting play out on our living room screens it failed to occur to us that Humvees loaded with squads of husky young men decked out in full “battle rattle” might well evoke terror as effectively as a 15-year-old wrapped in C-4 explosives.