Tuesday, October 12, 2004


IT'S ABOUT TIME

I remember the first time I saw the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It was 1966, just over 20 years after the end of WWII. The war was still in the memory of anyone older than 25.

I also remember our German tour guide saying how happy they were that the US bombers spared the Cathedral, though there were a few pock marks here and there where bomb fragments had hit it.

What struck you was how new everything was in Cologne, because almost every building except the Cathedral had been destroyed. I remember showing pictures I'd taken from the top of the Cathedral to one of my brothers who was in WWII and he said the bridges were new, too, and that his crew took out the last one standing as the Allies were on their way to Berlin.

But here's the reality check. He also mentioned (and it has been widely reported) that the reason the Cathedral still remained virtually untouched is that it was the best navigational landmark in Germany. Whether a raid was centered on Cologne or not, in the days when dead reckoning was the only method of aerial navigation, many used the Cathedral as the equivalent of a GPS satellite fix.

Elsewhere in Germany and throughout Europe, religious buidlings were not targeted, but they were not "avoided at all costs".

So, why has there been such an avoidance in the War in Iraq? It has seemed that we have ceded mosques to the bad guys to be used as both secure havens (as the Germans used the Cologne Cathedral for their troops during Allied bombardment), but also as armed fortresses. All in the name of this being a war on terror, not Islam.

Until today. I guess we decided enough was enough.

Which resulted in this predictable response: "This cowboy behavior cannot be accepted," said cleric Abdullah Abu Omar of the Ramadi Mosque. "The Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control."

I hope all terrorists believe "we have lost our senses and have gone out of control." Fear is something they should get used to experiencing. No safe haven. No remorse.

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