The invisible victor

By Natalie Sit

Osama bin Laden is winning the war.

Not a war with bombs and blood, but a war where silent fears seize the United States. People are more aware they’re entering tall buildings; they suspect planes that are flying too low. The dark-skinned man in the parking lot must be a terrorist. There could be anthrax in that package.

The once simple pleasure of opening a letter is now a SWAT team operation. Any person can now perpetuate fear by mailing an envelope filled with sugar to a government official. Something sold for less than a dollar can bring the police running and send people stampeding for testing.

What’s next? Americans are not used to this ever-present dread. It’s damn hard to go on with the normal life that Bush calls for. When Hollywood can’t televise the Emmys or market movies properly, "normal" life is far from reach. So why can’t we settle into a "normal" existence again?

It’s partially a fear of death. Watching buildings collapse leads to the realization that life is valuable. But the main fear is the possibility the American way of life could disappear completely under the right circumstances. It’s a gripping fear that will stop any stalwart capitalist in his step. Indeed, what happens if the terrorists succeed in their campaign to pit the Middle East against the West?

The terrorists live in a different world; they have very little to lose. Their homes are rubble, their relatives are scattered and their future is very bleak. The threat of death hovers so much closer. If Bush employed bin Laden’s tactics against the terrorists, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Bush couldn’t make their lives more miserable. It’s almost understandable why the terrorists could die so easily. They felt like there was nothing left for them to care for or protect, the only thing that mattered was a fundamentalist interpretation of an innocent religion.

It’s plainly obvious after September 11 the terrorists do not care about their lives. They could release anthrax or smallpox and disregard the possibility it could come back to their homes. If they die in the process, at least they die knowing America was destroyed too. That is a very dangerous enemy–one who will stop at nothing to destroy a civilization.

How does America threaten an enemy with such resolve? How does America know they’ve killed or captured every last terrorist? Just one mention of "Long live bin Laden" or the discovery of plans to build a nuclear weapon could send shockwaves through a scared public. Americans can never relax and think they’ve won the war for freedom.

This is no longer war with concrete targets, it’s a war of terror and the U.S. is losing.

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