Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The King's President's Speech

So, it seems we're at war again, though it's yet another undeclared one, as has been typical in recent decades. Again, no exit strategy, no clear-cut goals... I hope it doesn't become more of a "boots on the ground" situation than it already has (downed pilot? His boots were on Libyan soil).

I hate Moammar Gaddafi, I have since my friend Ken Bissett was killed in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. Ken was a couple of years ahead of me in high school, and we were both involved in the stage crew and the forensics teams. He was a slender bespectacled kid who was smart and well spoken, with an incongruously deep voice that would have made a radio announcer proud. He was a gifted artist and calligrapher- we called him "Ken the Pen", and his yearly "tags" on the stage crew equipment locker were never painted over. The last time I saw Ken alive was on a visit to my brother Sweetums at Cornell University. Ken, who lived in the same dorm, heard that I had been planning a visit, so he dropped by. He told me that he had jumped through hoops to get a transfer to Syracuse University so he could study abroad in England. Man, was he excited about his upcoming semester... I remember Ken's funeral- we were standing around in dark suits, looking strained and awkward. Dave, a jocular, outgoing guy who had also graduated a few years before me had an uncharacteristically bleak look on his face, a look I've not forgotten.

Yeah, I hate Gaddafi, but I'm not comfortable with this new course of action... our military is overextended, and we have no exit strategies for our current conflicts. Also, do we really know who the rebels are? Should we arm the rebels? When Ken was alive, we armed and trained the rebels in Afghanistan... I lost friends as a result of that too.

NOTE: I generally don't name private figures, but Ken was an only child. We came up in a time before social networking sites, and Google caches. He has a memorial endowment at Syracuse, but I felt that I owed him a personal memorial.


Substance McGravitas said...

Giving some of that missile money to families who have to have community fundraisers when their kid gets sick is also important.

Let's hope good things somehow result from bombings.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

PBHO's speech was pretty, but the ghosts of Rwanda, and the victims of Darfur aren't going away.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Let's hope good things somehow result from bombings.

Doesn't that say it all. Professor Juan Cole says we need to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.

I say the burden of proof is on the bombing advocates who claim this time, it's really going to work out for humanity (and of course, we can't afford to help the Bahrainians, because everything we do in the region is dictated by either Israel or Saudi Arabia).

Dr.KennethNoisewater said...

Yeah, I'm really leery about this, because it just never seems to work out for us--or anyone. And as soon as we become involved in something it immediately becomes all about us. And people die and it becomes a clusterfuck and we create more terrorists.

I am holding out hope that this we get out quickly...and as "cleanly" as humanly possible.

I won't be sad, however, if we did manage to stop Qaddafi from murdering a whole bunch of his own people.

I'm really sorry to read about your friend. That is tragic.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I'm really sorry to read about your friend. That is tragic.

It was the first time I ever really had to come to grips with mortality. We always say someone is "too young to die" but young people die anyway. The violent nature of his death was what really hit home.

Again, I realize that the loss of the man he would have been hits me more than the loss of the young man he was.

This death, a few years later, also hit me particularly hard. I went to grammar school with him, and he was the really cool, really nice older kid who forced all the other older kids to be just as nice to the little kids. He was a prince.

M. Bouffant said...

Don't think I know/knew anyone who been's murdered, except one casual acquaintance (a coke dealer, so ...).

My associates usually go by their own hands, foolish accidents, or (small-s) substance abuse/natch'ul causes.

Indeed, lost three good friends by those very means before any of them hit 30. It's hard to say if time, nostalgia & whatever blur our memories, but all three were, well, interesting, dynamic people, &, their individual possibilities aside, my life might have gone differently if any of them hadn't checked out early.

M. Bouffant said...

Or "who's been."

(Only two cupsakawffee so far. Cripes.)

WV: "worrynto" much.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Having a friend murdered really changes your perspective on things- it's one reason I deplore eliminationist rhetoric.

Hamish Mack said...

Nice post BBBB. Ken had a good friend in you.
I didn't see any of BHO's speech and I do not consider that a loss. They should try to buy Gaddafi out, it will be cheaper in money and people.

Smut Clyde said...

Does anyone remember the John Brunner story from a late-70s Analog in which the US is air-dropping tools, seeds and educational aids upon an unspecified far-Eastern enemy?

TruculentandUnreliable said...

:( I'm sorry about your friend.

My friend from high school hates Qaddafi, too. Her family immigrated here before she was born in order to escape the regime--her dad's a refugee and will never be allowed back into Libya as long as Qaddafi is in power.

The last time I talked to her, her family was safe, but they weren't afraid of dying if it meant that he'd be overthrown. I haven't talked to her since we began our "squirmish," but I'd imagine that she's in support of it, or at least her family is.

I just don't trust that it won't go horribly, terribly wrong. The fact that we have international (and Arab) support, and the fact that Juan Cole is okay with it makes me feel a little better. But not much.

PS: I did forensics, too (domestic extemp and Congress, mostly). And debate. I never quite made it to nationals, but I wasn't too bad at it. Like everything else, I could've been better if I'd worked harder.

77south said...

Sadly I don't know if the whole thing would have turned into another regrettable genocide If the US hadn't intervened. Is preventing another Darfur or Rwanda word a shit ton of cruise missiles, bombs, jet fuel and a F-15 or two? I don't know. It seems like there were two bad choices, intervene or genocide. I guess Obama decided that he'd rather start another war than watch another massacre.

Dr.KennethNoisewater said...

"This death, a few years later, also hit me particularly hard. I went to grammar school with him, and he was the really cool, really nice older kid who forced all the other older kids to be just as nice to the little kids. He was a prince."

I have often been amazed by how protective and nurturing kids can be. That is really sweet.

Glennis said...

We were living in Ithaca at the time of the PanAm bombing, and although we didn't personally know anyone, so many people around us had friends or knew someone from Sycacuse that was affected.

My first brush with the death of someone who didn't deserve it was a friend who had a brain aneurysm at the age of 22. it was such a shock.

During the massacres in Rwanda we knew a woman who was from there. I still can't forgive Clinton for standing down. I think Obama did this in the best way a president can do something that's still a troubling action - he got the coalition and the Arab League behind him. Screw the right wing critics - they'd arguing from tribalism. The critics from the left have more credibility, but even so, I can't see sitting back and doing nothing.