Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

This is War. Half Measures Don't Cut It
Published in The Signal, 7-10-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2004     This isn't what I started to write this week. I don't even know if I can connect the events of this week to the Santa Clarita Valley. I do know I'm angry. No. Angry isn't a strong enough word. I'm enraged.
    As we all know now, London was the site of the latest terror attacks. As horrific as that was, we were once again told to continue on with the way of life we all have — but just be more aware of our surroundings.
    We're at war. Make no mistake about it. Our very way of life has once again been attacked.
    New York, Washington, Madrid and London have all been attacked, and all our government can come up with is for us to be "more aware of?" Balderdash.
    Where are the "war bond" drives? How about gas rationing? Food rationing? War production plans? New aircraft and ships? How about some general mobilization? Dare I say, draft?
    I don't know if my rage is directed more at the terrorists or at our government. Another missed opportunity to call our nation and the entire world to arms to end the threat of terrorism. We're just going to have to be more aware.
    And what are we doing? Nothing! (Except being more aware.) What has to happen for us to wake up and see that we could again be the "attacked" and not the "attacker"?
    I just read that at least seven other men in or near Lodi, Calif., may have been trained in Pakistan by Osama bin Laden and his gang. How many more are already here?
    Along those lines, how can we close the borders between Iraq and Syria or Iran when we can't even control the flow of people illegally entering our country from Mexico and Canada? But we're becoming more aware...
    There comes a time when you have to say you've had enough and start getting the problem solved.
    Guess what the problem isn't? It isn't the prisoners in Cuba, or how those in Iraq are being treated. The problem is that our government hasn't come to grips with what has to happen to win this world war. Yes, it is a "world war." Attacks by the terrorists have occurred all over the world. Now are we becoming more aware?
    In the last world war, did our government hold hearings to determine which naval shipyards and other military installations were going to be closed? I don't think so. Wasn't there a landing field for the Army Air Corps right in Newhall? What is it today? Were you aware of the base closures? Do you care?
    We're trying to fight this war using half measures. Those half measures will avail us nothing — just like in Vietnam. Only this time, unlike Vietnam, we have been attacked. Our allies have been attacked. The enemy isn't using half measures.
    You ask, what would be my plan? My plan would be to do what we did in the two previous world wars. Rally the country into a wartime stance. Tell our enemy — or any current or onetime friends of our enemy — that we are coming to get them, and that "we won't stop till it's over, over there."
    Tell those countries that may harbor our enemy that they have a specific timeline to turn over the terrorists to us, or be considered terrorists. Give them maybe a week, or at the most a month. At the end of that time we may invade or send a "proportional" response in answer to the lack of cooperation we get from them. We could call in an air strike, invade or maybe use a nuclear missile or two.
    The clock starts when we say it starts, and stops when all the terrorists are collected.
    Once we have all those "sons of dogs" collected, we'll give them a fair trial and hang 'em — just like in Placerville (formerly known as "Hangtown").
    Why, there are even some live oak trees in Placerita Canyon that have been used for movie hangings, so they've been well tested. Way back when, that would have been considered fair.
    What is "fair" in war? We have to fight to win. That is fair. We have to keep the politicians and lawyers off of the battlefields and away from the prisoners we capture. We have to fight to win. Losing isn't an option. Of that we are all aware.
    One other thought. My generation had Jane Fonda as a traitor. This generation has Sean Penn. How many American boys will die because of his current actions in Iran?

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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