is an article I sent to a Madison newspaper in
September, 2001 criticizing the Bush administration's response to 9-11
and proposing alternative actions. Archetypal and psychological
perspectives are offered. The article was not published.
Is Bush leading us down the wrong road?
Now the rovin’ gambler he was very
He was tryin’ to
create a next world war
He found a promoter who
nearly fell off the floor
He said I never engaged
in this kind of thing before
But yes I think it can be
very easily done
We’ll just put some
bleachers out in the sun
And have it on Highway 61
-- Highway 61
Revisited Bob Dylan
are many parallels between the present crisis and the world situation
in the sixties. If Bush is not extremely cautious in his response to
the terrorist attacks, he will become an unwitting co-promoter with bin
Laden of apocalyptic action on Highway 61. The magnitude of our
losses and the frightful possibilities ahead should prompt us to
consider bold new directions aside from a military response.
desperately need a great leader and statesman at this crucial junction
in history and Bush has gotten off to a bad start. It is easy to lead a
nation into war by playing on people’s fears and stoking
testosterone levels. Bush, as Reagan did before him, feeds off the myth
of the American cowboy, an archetypal dominant with major unconscious
influences on American behavior. The tough, individualistic Texas
cowboy initially came across with a “Don’t Mess with
America” stance ready to hang “Wanted Dead or Alive”
posters around the globe. Given Bush’s association with the Texas
death penalty, we infer that “dead” would be just fine. War
should be the last resort, not the first. The crisis should be
re-framed as an international
crime against humanity, which encourages thoughts of criminals
being brought to justice rather than promoting revenge with a thirst
for bombings and killings.
adolescent mentality associated with the cowboy archetype polarizes
issues into black and white. You are either with us or you are a
terrorist –- no subtle discriminations necessary thank you. This
makes it seem unpatriotic to criticize our government. The situation in
the Middle East is devilishly complex with an endless history of sordid
activities taken with God (or Allah) on “our side.”
Someone long ago reminded us that excessive zeal in rooting out weeds
can destroy the garden (Matthew 13: 24-30). The domino effect activated
by war could lead us to bin Laden's goal of a war between one billion
Muslims and the rest of the world; crusaders versus jihad.
leaders seem dumbfounded as to why people hate us. If it is true that
they don’t know, we are
in for big trouble.
Statements such as “they can’t stand our free and open
democratic principles and our way of life” are an insult to the
Arab world and a smoke screen for the major problems. Most Arabs are
only too aware of the oppressive and/or religiously insensitive regimes
such as the Shaw of Iran that we have supported or brought to power.
is learning on the job -–we can only pray he is a quick learner.
The isolationist approach he campaigned on allowed the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict to escalate. Bin Laden has piggy
backed his aims onto this conflict. Our leaders are incapable of
dealing with the perspectives offered on CBS’s 60 Minutes (Sunday, September 23,
2001). Interviews with editors of Arab newspapers made it clear that
the major reason for the almost universal Arab hatred of America is our
unflagging support of Israel. Arabs see America as being inseparable
from Israel, therefore incapable of taking a neutral position necessary
to mediate a settlement.
more than ever the Middle East is an international problem.
Religions and politics are fueled by oil to make the region an
explosive mix. The problem should be turned over to the
organization set up to resolve issues between nations. However, the
United States has veto power on the UN Security council over proposed
actions. Our allies will have to band together to persuade us to submit
to an internationally determined settlement. If this fails, I
propose a council of elders of the most respected and objective men and
women of the world to sit in judgement and make decisions on the Middle
East. I cast my votes for Nelson Mandela, Maya Anjelou, Jimmy
Carter, the Dalai Lama and Rev. James Forbes of Riverside Church, New
York, to be on that council.
have already suffered a horrific loss of 6,800 lives and an estimated
$60 billion overall loss in New York city alone. Stock markets loath
insecure times, and it was only after the Vietnam war became an
economic liability and combined with pressure from the street level did
it end. We can forget about prescription drug relief for senior
citizens, the 44 million Americans without health insurance, the social
security lock box.
extra $20 billion for a military response is just a down payment for
our military-industrial-congressional complex. Can we trust our
government that is pouring additional billions of dollars into secret
military projects, super sophisticated spy activities and covert
operations, here and abroad? A democracy relies on public scrutiny and
criticism. J. Edgar Hoover and Nixon perverted the FBI and CIA in their
attempts to get their perceived fellow American enemies.
extensive and long planned terrorist attacks were not detected by our
heavily funded intelligence agencies. Of course they will want more
money now. Yet the recent terrorist acts are relatively minor compared
to what could happen. An equal investment of terrorist time and money
could produce multitudes of horrors in biological, chemical or nuclear
warfare. For one minute, think like a terrorist. Would you develop
missiles to be guided thousands of miles across oceans to hit American
cities? Easier and simpler to drive ten rented trucks carrying atomic
bombs into the heart of America’s ten biggest cities.
are deeply anxious and depressed at this time, not only for the lives
lost and the insecure situation, but also because we know the lives
will have been lost in vain if the situation spirals out of control.
Deep down we know the root issues are not being addressed and no valid
processes of resolution have been proposed. Military solutions alone
will not solve the problem.
suffering that has occurred and the imaginable danger that could happen
must prompt us to undertake revolutionary change. I draw encouragement
from the Chinese ideogram for 'crisis' which is composed of the
elements of ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. The
danger element pushing for change must be high to prompt fundamental
changes in a superpower and in human behavior at watershed moments in
America so dominates the world, change on our part will have
substantial effects on the rest of the world. Strength without depends
on strength within. We have serious problems with poverty, health care
and racism at home and a widening gap between rich and poor. American
unions, mostly history now, gave blood, sweat and tears to civilize
American business and industry and we can be proud of our
accomplishments in the area of civil liberties. This is not true of our
position in the rest of the world. For starters, we discover sweat
shops, banned American pesticides marketed abroad, corporate
agricultural practices that supply American markets while destroying
self-supporting indigenous family farms, support of repressive regimes
who support American businesses and America being the number one
supplier of military equipment to the world.
must stop pretending that our narcissistic self-interests go
unrecognized. A modicum of American involvement would have prevented
the massacres of thousands in Uganda, but the country was of no
strategic interest to America. Our CIA trained and armed bin
Laden’s group to fight the Soviet-backed Afghan regime during the
Cold War, saying, “We will fight the Russians until the last
Afghan dies.” Afghanistan expected American help to rebuild after
the Russians left--but got nothing. We ceased Radio Free Europe-type
broadcasts that went into several countries in the region, abandoning
the populace to the propaganda of fundamentalist groups.
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -– trite but
true. America has been stingy and self-interested with its aid.
Desperate people do desperate things. Terrorist groups are just as
capable as we are of projecting the problems and putting the enemy
label onto the other guy. I propose that America take the lead by
immediately allocating $20 billion to humanitarian causes as a new
start in American policy. We must wage peace as well as war,
otherwise our actions in response to the crisis will be futile and
a psychoanalyst, I cannot ignore bringing the problems down to the
most intimate level. My anti-war activities in Berkeley in
the late 60’s and early 70’s showed me that I no more
wanted to be ruled by the Far Left than by the Far Right. Particularly
in a democratic system, wise political, bureaucratic and business
activities cannot be created and supported without wise individuals.
Berkeley showed me that it is a smoke screen and impediment to
self-examination and real change to see our problems as being due
mostly to the politicians, institutions or enemies in America or
abroad. “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us” said
Pogo. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that a man brave enough to
withdraw projections “knows that whatever is wrong in the world
is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has
done something real for the world. He has succeeded in
shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic unsolved
social problems of our day.”
fate of the world is in the balance. We pray that Bush will be a quick
learner and cooler, wiser heads among his advisors may prevail.
Fortunately the whole world is watching, for if things are not handled
properly we might as well slap on the sun tan lotion, fight for a good
place on the bleachers and wait for the excitement to build out there
on Highway 61.
[For a reading from the I Ching in July, 2002 on the American position
post 9-11, see the last paragraph in "Bob Dylan's "Highway 61
Revisited.”” More comments on the Bush
Administration's response to 9-11 can be found on page 2 of "Earth
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