Vol. 10    No. 23
      NOVEMBER 12, 2015
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                  Thoughts about Paris
Before I dwell of the aftermath of the mass murder in Paris, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the Links 2015 Community Recognition
Awards: Marcia Anderson, Richard Davis, Theresa Sanders, Charles Tubbs, Annie Weatherby-Flowers (whom I inadvertently failed to caption
when I published her photo in our last edition) and American Girl. I have personally witnessed the contributions that they have made to make
Madison a better place to live. Thank you for enhancing the quality of all of our lives!


Whenever I work on The Hues, I always keep one eye on the news, usually on Internet news sites. As I was working on this edition of The Hues
on Friday night, I started seeing the news start coming in about the terror attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead and so many more wounded
and injured. It was a horrific scene caused by three bands of people who did the assault on a soccer stadium, a concert hall and several
restaurants in the name of ISIS.

On a peaceful Friday night when people were enjoying themselves in entertainment districts in Paris, violence erupted and people associated
with ISIS rejoiced. Apparently this latest wave of violence was somewhat in response for the French bombing of ISIS targets in Syria. They
would like to do the same to the United States and others, although the logistics are just a little bit more difficult.

Nonetheless, the United States has been dragged into a war without end, a war like that between Palestinians and Israelis that has lasted for
millennia, a war of insanity where those fighting the battles today more than likely don’t know what caused the initial conflict. It has been a
conflict where first one side and then the other has had the upper hand. And instead of using their strength to negotiate a just settlement and
resolution to the conflict and to say enough is enough, those with the upper hand have used their advantage to impose their will.

I blame former Vice-President Dick Chaney for this state of affairs. After 9/11 occurred with the destruction of the World Trade Center and the
crashing of the plane into the Pentagon, the United States had the sympathy of the world. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, practically the
whole world supported it because the rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban, were sheltering al Qaeda, the ones responsible for the bombing. No one
faulted us for invading Afghanistan to seek revenge against Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda. It was an act of self-defense to ensure
that they could not carry out such horrific acts again.

But instead of using the incredible goodwill that the U.S. received as a result of 9/11 to promote world peace, Dick Chaney used it to push his
agenda of Pax Americana for he and others felt that it was America’s time to dominate the world. And he turned his eyes to Iraq and Saddam
Hussein because Iraq sat on the world’s second largest reserve of oil and Hussein controlled that oil and not the oil merchants that Chaney was
connected to.

It was greed that propelled Chaney and his allies to dream up the fantasy that Hussein was sitting on a stockpile of weapons of mass
destruction that he could use against the United States. In fact, Chaney’s rhetoric convinced many that Hussein was responsible for 9/11.

And so, the United States invaded Iraq and scoffed at the lack of Iraqi resistance when U.S. forces marched into Baghdad quickly and toppled
the statue of Saddam Hussein and mocked his several palaces — while ignoring America’s own — and people cheered the heavy bombing of
Iraq and the tens of thousands of civilians who died in the conflict.

But that war was never won and it merely destroyed an uneasy “peace” in the Middle East and sucked the United States into the endless war
that involves terror on both sides. And none of us shall be at peace.

I mourn the 129 people who lost their lives in Paris last Friday and I mourn those who have died before and will die in the future in the Middle
East, in Europe and more than likely, in the United States. I have no illusion about members of ISIS would just as soon shoot me as look at me.
There is a tremendous level of brutality and inhumanity there. They wish to set civilization back several millennia.

But we have unleashed them just as surely as anyone else. In that uneasy truce that was the Middle East, we now know the forces that Saddam
Hussein was sitting on and keeping in line. Hussein was no saint and was a vicious killer himself. But he was interested in preserving the
conventional state of Iraq — or at least the one that the British carved out for his predecessors back in the 1940s, I believe. ISIS is more
interested in promulgating a state of terror and in creating a new state composed on Iraq and Syria that will be held together by terror.

What have we gained after all of the bloodshed since 2003 when we invaded Iraq? Nothing. We are less secure. Many more Americans have
declining quality of life because we have wasted our treasure fighting our Middle East Wars and have allowed China to control the American
dollar. We do not live in a Pax Americana. We live in a state of perpetual war that has claimed its latest victims — it’s the civilians who always
experience the highest casualties — on the streets and concert halls of Paris. This is hardly the end.

I pray that somehow there is some sort of divine intervention to cure of this insanity, an insanity that has its grips on everyone involved. Deliver
us from this perpetual hell on earth.