In my fantasy, the apocalypse unleashed in the U.S. would lead America and the world to rethink everything, to understand that the old ways don't, and won't, work.
Instead, President Bush talks terrifyingly tough. And Canadian commentators join the Americans in predictable calls for bloody vengeance, calls guaranteed to create more martyrs and more bereaved family members with nothing left to live for except revenge.
Terrorism can't be stopped with violence. Highly motivated, heartbroken people can be astoundingly creative. The U.S. spends a grotesque amount on its military, but it couldn't -- and can't -- protect its citizens. Sending battleships to New York City will only give the sailors a better view of the burning; there are no invading warships to repel. And as grief-stricken Americans dream of bombing the new Berlin or Baghdad, their enemies live among them and in cities, villages and on farms around the world.
If the U.S. unleashes a bloody, fiery fury on Kabul or some other unfortunate locale (watch out, Halifax, they say the hijackers came through there), the cycle of bloodshed unleashed on U.S. shores will take on the familiar, hopeless feel of the daily destruction in the Middle East. Israel has a pretty impressive army, but it can't wage peace, only war. Nothing gets better as both sides trade in death and destruction there.
When Bush speaks of killing not only the perpetrators but the people who "harbour them,' I can't help wondering if those who crashed the planes used similar words when planning to strike not only at the American government but at the citizens who support it.
The concentration of people and power in the world's most industrialized nation makes water supplies, subways and the rest easy targets not just for bombs but for easily concealed biological horrors. Remember the Tokyo subway?
Don't dream of an American knockout punch. Like a real-life video game, new soldiers of doom would rise up in place of those the Americans kill. We must try to understand the grievances that drive people to commit unbearable actions. The Palestinians who danced in the streets of Jerusalem aren't crazy; they're really, really angry. I'll bet there were people in Belgrade, Tehran and Kinshasa who wished they were dancing with them.
We have to fathom the anger, not dismiss it as crazy . We have to love, just as we wish to be loved, honour others' lives as we wish ours to be. And we have to give peace a chance.