TCS Daily


The Joy of Liberation: Let the Kites Fly

By James K. Glassman - November 13, 2001 12:00 AM

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 -- The way I learned about the crash yesterday: my stockbroker told me.

He IM'd me: "Jim, what do you think?"

"Market still looking good," I IM'd back. "What's to buy?"

"No, about the plane."

I turned on the TV.

"Oh, shit," I typed. "Get back to you."

A 767 had crashed (that's what we were told then) coming in to JFK. The long shot across the harbor showed smoke rising from the Rockaways. The F16s started booming over my apartment. It was a bright day, perfectly clear, just like Sept. 11. Deja vu all over again. But as more information flowed, it became clear that this was unlikely a terrorist attack -- just a mundane horror for the city to contend with.

Clean Shaven, Dancing, Kites Flying

The day ended with Northern Alliance troops at the gates of Kabul. In their trail, they left shaven beards, families unearthing TV sets, music blaring. Women walked alone in the streets. The New York Times this morning said that a child was flying a kite. (The Taliban had banned kites. Here's an idea: American kids sending millions of kites to Afghan children, kites as a symbol of freedom.)

The rebel forces also mercilessly killed Taliban soldiers. Somehow, I am not outraged or even slightly disturbed by this. President Bush gave the Taliban their chance. They had harbored terrorists: give them up or you will regret it (you will lose power, you will die). Now it is happening. And in very short order. Where are the armchair generals of a couple weeks ago, the pundits complaining that things weren't moving fast enough. Now, I am sure they will claim, they are moving too fast.

But today, anyway, we are starting to see the joy of liberation flashing across TV screens.

A Long War's First Victory

Last night, the movie theater on the Upper West Side was packed for "The Heist," a David Mamet movie. It's about a group of thieves, led by good-guy Gene Hackman, who pull off a complicated job involving Swiss gold.

With one part of my brain, I am rooting for Hackman, impressed with all the machinations. With another, I realize that the Hackman team was behaving much as OBL's terrorist cell must have behaved in the U.S., blending in, putting everything in place for the kill.

But while this was a movie about process, it was the objective that really counted. The end justifies the means, indeed. The end is the end is the end. And so these Afghans that the U.S., Brits and Russians have supported are going into Kabul. They will kill, they will commit atrocities even. None of this is to be glossed over, but the end is just. It is the first victory in what will be a long war -- but a victory worth celebrating. Let the kites fly.

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