"Hey...we are the good guys"

By Will Baker

I recently wrote a piece entitled "Everything has its Price." But in light of the recent bombing of a U.S. Naval destroyer, as it was docked in port off shore of Yemen-a small Arab/Moslem country located in the Middle East, it seems to me that, for the moment at least, for Americans everywhere, the notion now has added significance.

During the past week my time has been very occupied. Yet when the news of the bombing reached down through the white-noise that is a symptom of the cognitive overload which, I experience from time to time, I had to stop and take notice. A couple of days ago I arrived at my office, opened my daily paper and there, on the front page, was a large picture of a U.S. naval vessel with a hug hole in its hull, right at the water line. And the caption read: "US Sailors Die In Terrorist Attack!"

I could only shake my head. For a couple of weeks prior to the incident I watched with concern as the situation in the Middle East did its slow dance towards meltdown. Sadly, it seems to me that the "hawks" operating within the Israeli political system may have played an unfortunate part in this tragic ballet by conducting an ill timed visit to a controversial holy shrine. It seems to me that at best they were probably motivated by the desire for a photo opportunity, but at worst they were being provocative--of course the ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority to maintain order played a role as well. And then I flash back to words uttered by Vice-President Gore during a recent debate. He implied (referring to the recent Israeli "crack-down" involving the use of armed force, which many in the international community believe to be excessive), that Israel and the United States have a special relationship which, transcends concerns that the U.S. might have over this situation. In other words, that our two countries are in bed together, and even though we might be having a small spat over the manner in which the Israeli government has recently conducted itself towards the Palestinians, it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Well, I have news for the politicians of all countries concerned. If the recent bombing of that destroyer was in any way linked to the fact that Israel and the United States are in bed together…it is a big deal to the families of the seventeen people killed and thirty-seven wounded sailors. Yes, it seems to me that everything has its price. And perhaps the price for the actions of the Israeli political "hawk’s", and the words of our politicians as regards our official policy towards Israel, is the dead and wounded referenced above.

This isn’t meant as a criticism of the policies of any of the nations involved in the current Middle East situation. In the weeks to come mainstream media pundits will certainly provide enough of that to be sure. However what I find interesting, is how, as a people, it seems to me that we sometimes "distance" ourselves from the actions of our government. To the point where, when an event such as this recent bombing occurs, we react with shock: "Why would anyone want to bomb one of our ships…we are the good guys." Yes, "Everything has its Price." And I believe that when that "thing" is a lack of situational awareness on the part of the citizenry, we are ill prepared to understand the implications of what we see going on in the world about us. But perhaps there is a lesson here for us all. I believe that every situation is relative, with this bombing being no exception. And many situations are much more complicated than they first appear. And yes, everything does have a price. Even if that "thing" is our collective ignorance.


 (Essay Collection)