I hope and pray we don't get hit again, like we did on September 11. Even one life lost to the violence of terrorism is too much.
If I somehow knew an attack was coming, I wouldn't pause for a second to report it in order to prevent it from occuring.
But on the other hand, I remind myself that without the ultimate sacrifice paid by 400,000 U.S. soldiers in World War II, tyranny could well have an iron grip on the world, and even on this nation. If the Nazis had prevailed, tens, if not hundreds of millions more would have been killed.
That realization has led my brain to launch a political calculus 180 degrees removed from my pacifist-inclined leanings. An entirely hypothetical yet realpolitik calculus that is ugly, and cold-hearted but must be posited:
This is a type of calculus that Pentagon war games planners and political consultants do all the time- a combination of what-if actions and consequences that are unpleasant to consider but are in the realm of plausibility.
What if another terror attack just before this fall's elections could save many thousand-times the lives lost?
I start from the premise that there is already a substantial portion of the electorate that tends to vote GOP because they feel that Bush has "kept us safe," and that the Republicans do a better job combating terrorism.
If an attack occurred just before the elections, I have to think that at least a few of the voters who persist in this "Bush has kept us safe" thinking would realize the fallacy they have been under.
If 5% of the "he's kept us safe" revise their thinking enough to vote Democrat, well, then, the Dems could recapture the House and the Senate and be in a position to:
Block the next Supreme Court appointment, one which would surely result in the overturning of Roe and the death of hundreds if not thousands of women from abortion-prohibiting states at the hands of back-alley abortionists;
Be in a position to elevate the party's chances for a regime change in 2008. A regime change that would:
Save hundreds of thousands of American lives by enacting universal health care;
Save untold numbers of lives by pushing for cleaner air standards that would greatly reduce heart and lung diseases;
More enthusiastically address the need for mass transit, the greater availability of which would surely cut highway deaths;
Enact meaningful gun control legislation that would reduce crime and cut fatalities by thousands a year;
Fund stem cell research that could result in cures saving millions of lives;
Boost the minimum wage, helping to cut down on poverty which helps spawn violent crime and the deaths that spring from those acts;
Be less inclined to launch foolish wars, absence of which would save thousands of soldiers' lives- and quite likely moderate the likelihood of further terror acts.
I am not proud of myself for even considering the notion that another terror attack that costs even one American life could ever be considered anything else but evil and hurtful. And I know that when I weigh the possibility that such an attack- that might, say, kill 100- would prevent hundreds of thousands of Americans from dying who otherwise would- I am exhibiting a calculating cold heart diametrically opposed to everything I stand for as a human being. A human being, who, just so you know, is opposed to most wars and to capital punishment.
But in light of the very real potential of the next two American elections to solidify our growing American persona as a warlike, polluter-friendly nation with repressive domestic tendencies and inadequate health care for so many tens of millions, let me ask you this. Even if only from the standpoint of a purely intellectual exercise in alternative future history:
If you knew us getting hit again would launch a chain of transformative, cascading events that would enable a better nation where millions who would have died will live longer, would such a calculus have any moral validity?
Any at all?