OK... in keeping with the 'General Mood' of things, I'll comment for a bit on the whole '9/11' thing. Simply put: We've been at war for seven years now... a War against an Idea. An Ideological War if you will... It's not a war of conquering territory or a people, although to hear the pundits and politicians talk of it, it's all about Bin Laden or his Al Queda folks. Others propogate the idea that the War is against Iraq/Iran/or "Fill in the Blank Country of your Choice." In reality we're dealing with a War of Ideas, which when you get down to it is all a Religion is. This is that we're fighting in a battle of 'hearts and minds' so to speak. This war, while the current battles may take place in a city in Iraq or on the open plains or mountains of Afghanistan, is still basically a battle between beliefs systems.
Lets call it what it is: "My Invisible Man in the Sky is BETTER than your Invisible Man in the Sky."
I mean realistically, religion, or at least the IDEA of religion is a theoretical idea of a "higher power" that has omniscient powers and is 'in charge' of the Universe and created everything everywhere and knows everything. I'm not dogging religion per se, in as much as the concept of organized religion. Organized religion, according to my Late Great Grandfather began when the first Con Man met the First Fool. Essentially the Con Man was able to get the Fool to believe that he (the Con Man) was in communication with the "Higher Power" (usually referred to as God) and subsequently, the Fool should support/feed/pay the Con Man "because God wants you to." This leads me back to my original issue.
This war is a War of Ideas. At the current rate we're going, we're never going to stop battling these people as long as they believe that they are fighting for the "Glory of their Chosen God." The one thing we'd have to do is start thinking of this as more of a psychological war. Treat these people like cultists, rather than as enemy combatants. I'd have to say, the idea is that I think we need to look at 'deprogramming them' more than killing them on the battlefield. Not saying that we shouldn't be killing the ones who are 'far gone' that is... if they're dumb enough and violent enough to pick up an AK and go after American troops, then they get what they deserve. Its that we need to start getting them, deprogramming them, while they are young.
For instance, the Al Jazeera TV network and the West Bank television programming include a regular set of early morning kids shows. Normally not a problem, but the fact is that they use the most graphic propoganda to instill hatred of Jews and Infidels in these kids shows. In my own humble (not so much) opinion, if I were in charge, the first thing I'd do is drop a BLU-96 Fuel Air Explosive on any and all transmission stations and the TV station itself. I'd set up jammers and block any and all forms of 'hate TV' from being broadcast. These people start by programming the kids when they are too young to either know better or defend themselves against this brainwashing. Everyone wonders why, that by the age of 18, the majority of Palestinian males are clinically depressed. Well, possibly the fact that from from the time they are born they are told that Martyrdom is the best thing they can hope for, that they have no country or hope while the Infidels keep them down, and that they are subject to all these cockamamie rules that goes along with their religion. Its bad enough being an American teen with NORMAL angst, but can you imagine being a Palestinian? Where your parents' one fond hope is that you blow yourself up and take a pile of infidels with you? "Gee mom... Thanks!"
Talk about a sick fucking culture.
When I was 18, all I wanted to worry about was getting laid, that new zit on my forehead before the prom, and if I'd have enough gas money to party on the weekend. These kids are programmed from birth to be the 'new martyrs.' They haven't had the chance to realize that life has a lot more going for it than death. I mean until someone shows up with proof positive of an afterlife, I'd be really hesitant to go blowing myself to pieces.
Hell... you'd think that common sense should be breaking out at some point in that if someone came up and asked me to be a Suicide Bomber that you'd ask them "If it's so good to be a martyr, then why don't YOU go and do it?" At that point you should expect the usual hemming and hawing worthy of a politician. Not with these people. They really think that what they are doing is 'blessed' by their God, and that what they are doing is righteous.
When I was in Baghdad in 2004 at the beginning of the Insurgency.. this was when all of the 'firebrand' Mullahs (preists in Islam) were talking up taking up arms against the 'Crusaders' and 'Infidels'... One of my Iraqi friends told me that by allowing these guys to hype up the locals, the military was essentially shooting itself in the foot. His advice (which no one listened to) was to round up the Anti-American Mullahs and publically execute them in a gruesome public fashion and leave the bodies in a public display as a warning to the rest. "Leave them for the crows." he told me. A few months later when we were in what essentially was a shooting war again, I saw Mohamned as he was preparing to pull out for Jordan. "You Americans are too soft to be here." he told me. "As long as you try to treat these people as equals, you will never be able to stop them."
It comes down to that after seven years of conventional war, we need to start rethinking this. The standard "Bomb 'em into the Stone Age" doesn't really work when the bad guys already live at a Hunter-Gatherer level just outside the Neolithic. I'd say we need to try something different... because those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.