Skip to comments.Enemy Territory
Posted on 01/09/2006 12:10:18 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
On October 7, 1985, Americans were treated to one of the first more "intimate" instances of nascent terrorist activity when four members of a Palestinian Liberation Organization faction hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, ostensibly to forcibly bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. During the incident, the terrorists shot an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish passenger from the United States named Leon Klinghoffer to death and dumped his body overboard. It was one of the most hideous acts American news viewers had seen up to that point, though still occurring far from our shores.
There followed a great deal of behind-the-scenes back-stabbing on the part of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who allowed the hijacking mastermind, Mohammed Abbas and the other terrorists to fly to their headquarters in Tunisia. President Ronald Reagan sent U.S. warplanes to intercept the flight and forced it to land at an Italian air base. The United States fought and lost with the Italian government over extradition of the perpetrators. This was, in my opinion, a treacherous move on the part of one of our alleged allies, and evidence of the transformation taking place within the European foreign policy arena regarding the U.S. An Italian court ultimately convicted 11 of 15 associated with the hijacking.
Later, when Klinghoffer's widow met President Reagan, she told him about the opportunity she'd had to meet the terrorists after their convictions were handed down:
"I spit right in their faces," she told Reagan.
"God bless you," replied the President enthusiastically.
That's the spirit, I thought. This was a time during which I being met with skepticism and even laughter upon cautioning people that worse was to come. But a rehash of this very early salvo in the War on Terror isn't my aim here.
The U.S. State Department currently lists 26 countries with official Travel Warnings regarding specific hazards to Americans who travel there. Among them are of course nations like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia Pakistan and the Philippines. Inexplicably, the State Department also includes a handful of countries that are still considered popular tourist stops for Americans.
One of the top stories of 2005 was the case of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, an Alabaman who disappeared on the island of Aruba during a high school senior class trip. The mystery surrounding her disappearance, is at this time, still unsolved. There have been countless accusations, intimations concerning the investigation, from lackadaisical chaperones to inept or incestuous local investigators to the consideration of inadequately preparing our young people to be on their guard when they go abroad. Indeed, several similar incidents have occurred in the recent past, though not as widely publicized, of American girls and women being assaulted and even murdered in idyllic vacation spots.
But might there be deeper and more sinister significance to these phenomena than certain Americans unluckily crossing paths with the innately nefarious or criminal elements? It has become painfully evident that people worldwide have been actively propagandized by the international and the U.S. media. Could it be that the institutional denigration of our country has "trickled down" to effect the individual relations between Americans and those they meet abroad?
Leaving aside the fact that the Aruban government (administered by the Netherlands) has failed in their duty to solve a crime that was committed on their island, is it possible that Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and Joran Van der Sloot, though obviously predatory, privileged brats, looked to Ms. Holloway with derision expressly because she was a U.S. citizen and took her for a "stupid American slut" that they could ravage then feed to the fishes, and that she somehow "deserved it" by association?
Some may take this line of reasoning to be a bit of a leap -- but I don't believe it is. It is clear that the international and American media has had an effect on how we are perceived as individuals. I have observed historically that it is fairly typical for Americans who travel to carry a queer sense of invincibility with them; if a trend toward increasing attacks on U.S. citizens in tourist hotspots exists, don't count on the media to alert us to it.
Much of the upshot -- if any - will come down to economic factors and political relations, of course, as we've seen in Aruba and even Mexico, but I maintain that the time has come for all Americans who travel anywhere outside the U.S. to cultivate extreme wariness. It may be that even in places where our government would cavalierly assure us of our safety -- we are indeed fair game.
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.