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By Tom Cushing

A Brussels forum

Uploaded: Mar 23, 2016


There are an awful lot of people feeling an awful lot of awful over yesterday’s terror attack in the Belgian capital. So I thought I’d open the floor for readers to express themselves on the subject, offering a few of my own thoughts to start.

Although ‘empathy’ is obviously not ours exclusively or even a hallmark of our species, we’d not be what we call human if we didn’t feel it for the innocent victims of this latest atrocity. They didn’t deserve it; many families and their loved ones are in mourning today, and we share their grief.

There’s also a civilized tendency to want to bring the perpetrators to justice. We can stand with most of the rest of the world in our anger and resolve to punish those guilty of such zealotry and barbarism. The ‘asymmetrical warfare’ of terrorism means that there will always be unguarded targets in free societies, that are vulnerable to exploitation by so-called ‘super-empowered individuals.’ They are a fact of 21st century life.

Like the roaches in Houston – you have to do your best to control them, but you can’t expect to win completely. And if you do too much of the wrong things you render your house uninhabitable, and then the leftover roaches win, because they don’t care. In fact, provoking over-reactions is exactly what the vermin of terrorism most aim to accomplish.

There’s also a tendency among Americans to want to fix it, and to assume that total victory is achievable, cheap and somehow our job. That’s where I part company. Even if the Belgian police have shown themselves to be more Clouseau than Poirot, the perpetrators were their citizens and preventing those terrible consequences is their responsibility, as well. This is a world problem, and each civilized nation must both do its part in its sovereign territory, and coordinate with the whole.

As our recent history in the middle east amply demonstrates as well, we need to run the numbers in advance of taking action against terror. On the ridiculous assumption that the US could somehow stamp-out terroristic dissent in the world by “taking out” ISIS, what cost are we willing to pay? Another few $Trillion? My daughters? And since we know the assumption is absurd, shall we do it anyway? With your sons?

Finally, we also have to take our modern world in the context that we find it. Since the recent benchmark attacks in Paris, there have been literally hundreds of horrific terror attacks around the world. They include fatalities in places like San Bernardino and Brussels, but also Ankara, Jakarta, Tunis, Ougadougou, Mogadishu, Istanbul, Mali and the Ivory Coast, as well as routinely in middle east locales.

How do we process those – do we reserve our empathy and our headlines for ourselves and northern Europeans? Are not school girls in Nigeria as precious before the deity as tourists in France or commuters in Belgium? I don’t know how to process those incidents either, except to recognize the need to keep their many victims in our thoughts, as well.

Okay – the floor’s yours, and as anonymous as you wish. I do not expect to chime in, except as I’m addressed specifically. Routine moderating is in force, as always.

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