Buster Feldman: Guest Opinion
Aspen CO, Colorado
Imagining yourself in someone else’s position is probably a good exercise in understanding difficult situations as Sue Gray suggested in her guest column. She imagined herself on one side of the border; I am asking the readers to imagine themselves on the other side …
It’s been 42 years since Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq sent troops, planes and tanks into Mexico, closed the Gulf of Mexico to U.S. shipping, and threatened to invade and destroy the United States. The reasoning was that the United States, which they constantly vilified, had taken Texas, California and parts of other border states away from Mexico illegally after the American-Mexican war of 1846, and they were going to help Mexico recover what was rightfully theirs. However, in order to defend itself, the United States launched a pre-emptive strike into the Mexican States bordering our country, destroying the hostile forces and occupying and demilitarizing those states in order to create a buffer zone, making further aggression more difficult.
Over the next few years peace treaties were signed with Jordan and Egypt, and much of the land in those Mexican border states was given back to Mexico. In addition peace negotiations were initiated to try to find a way to give virtually all of the rest of the land back to Mexico. However, intransigent Mexicans, comprising a minority of the population in those remaining states, still wanted to destroy the United States and recapture the land they felt was theirs. In order to do this they decided on a campaign of terror to make life so untenable for U.S. citizens they would leave the land in question and Mexico could reclaim it. So they sent suicide bombers into shopping malls, social gatherings and pizza parlors in Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities to kill and maim as many civilians, mostly women and children, as possible; seeking to accomplish their goal by sowing terror and fear rather than by seeking accommodation or peace.
After many deaths we Americans decided “enough was enough” and built a large fence to separate us from those rogue states and create just a few gates so that necessary commerce could take place. But in addition we kept trying to find a way toward peace. Finally, believing that it would make peace easier to achieve we unilaterally gave more land back to the Mexicans and removed our occupying force. However, in an election, the intransigents in those states were given parliamentary control and then took compete charge by killing or forcing those seeking a peaceful solution out and devised a new way of spreading their terror.
They decided that relatively unsophisticated rockets, small enough to be smuggled in but potent enough to kill, would work great. Maybe they couldn’t hit L.A. and Dallas but they could certainly get to El Paso, Tucson and San Diego and create fear and an atmosphere of terror 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Children would have to be kept very close to shelter because their parents would have only about a 15-second warning as to when the next rocket would be coming. Life would become unbearable for adults, forcing many of them to leave their jobs so they could stay close enough to their children and lead them to safety when necessary, and for children it would become even worse; they saw their schools closed, watched homes being blown up, saw the gory remains of friends and neighbors who were injured or dying. They came to fear the night as much as the day because it also brought terror out of the sky, in many cases creating the need for psychiatric care for years to come. It made us spend huge sums for bomb shelters and warning systems and medical treatment in addition to the cost of repairing or rebuilding damaged and destroyed homes, schools and basic infrastructure.
Their plan worked too well, and it lasted too long. The first missile hit San Diego in 2001 and last year (2008) more than 3,500 missiles bombarded our border cities. Even though we sought some kind of peaceful solution the intransigent terrorists insisted that their goal was and still is the complete recovery of all of the land, Texas, California, etc., that they believed we had stolen from them. Finally, again we decided “enough was enough,” and determined that we could not let the attacks continue.
And even though the rockets came from heavily populated areas in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Matamoras, and the insurgents had a history of firing from civilian homes and schools, which made it very difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys and certainly would expose both our soldiers and their civilians to great risk, we had to try to end the threat.
Unfortunately, many of the intransigent leaders are ensconced in Mexico City, well out of harms way, and oblivious to the pain and suffering inflicted on both sides of the battle. They, in their safe havens, have insisted that no cease fire take place and that the fighting go on until all of their conditions are met. Those conditions included the right to replenish any arm supplies destroyed by our forces, and obviously those arms could serve only one purpose, the resumption of the death, destruction and terror on our citizens.
The price paid for defending our citizens is very significant. Obviously most important is the loss of life on both sides in fighting the battle, but also important is the impact on our relationships with other countries. People in Europe and other places are saying “a big strong country like you shouldn’t be so aggressive. After all, relatively few Texans and Californians have been killed and the houses and schools can be rebuilt.” In responding to the criticism we can only recount the very famous State of the Union speech delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941. He enunciated four fundamental freedoms that we and humans all over the world should share; the pertinent one for us to consider today is “Freedom from Fear.”
Our country has fought many wars for freedom, and we know that the cost of freedom is sometimes very high. As a country we have never been unwilling to pay that price, and we pray that there never will be a price too high for us to pay in order to guarantee all of our people all of the freedoms that we have come to cherish.
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.