Associates - Previous Letters from an American in Europe


  Friday September 28, 2001  
  This morning's front page of The Times features the news that two U.S. generals have been given authority to shoot down a wayward commercial airliner without Pentagon or Presidential approval. Of all the initiatives that have been implemented since events of September 11, this is by far the most controversial.    
  On the other side of the world, a front page article in today's The Wall Street Journal highlights U.S. airline response to security issues. Individual airline pilots have evidently developed their own systems for dealing with a worst case scenario. Since knowledge of standardised systems and procedures for dealing with a hijacking was the very tool used by the terrorists to perpetrate their heinous crimes, the current lack of standardisation could be the best safeguard preventing a recurrence.    
  As long as we remain vigilant, there is no chance of success for a future attack. The public has been warned. The rules have changed. Regarding the overriding authority of two U.S. generals? This independence should give us even more comfort. The ability to initiate a pre-emptive strike would defeat the aim of these kamikaze zealots. Why would they choose to die in vain?    

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  Wednesday September 26, 2001    
  These words of Pilate when face to face with Jesus the Christ continue to challenge today.    
  Last week I was sent tapes of a U.S. radio ministry originally aired in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The message was clear. For those who lost loved ones who were not Christians, there was no hope of meeting them in heaven. Their souls would be forever in hell. Not only was this message insensitive to the bereaved but it was ignorant of other Christian theology. There is only 'one' judge who knows a man's heart.    
  I contacted my brother, a minister in Minnesota, to find out more about this preacher and was told he was "fundamentalist" in his teachings and that there are others like him who are calling the attacks "God's judgement on America."    
  Beware of false doctrine. Like current media manipulation trying to call this a war against Islam, attempts are being made to distort the real purpose of our fight against terrorism. This battle will be a long and difficult struggle. Fortify yourselves and keep your minds focused on the true enemy.    

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  Tuesday September 25, 2001    
  Yesterday, an MP from the Liberal Democrat party conference made the appeal, "Bomb them,....Bomb them with food and aid."    
  Many people would agree with this remedy. A morsel of honey is a salve to the soul. To have the might and power of the U.S. military forces and not use them would endear a cautious and critical Islamic state more than any other move. President Bush removed sanctions from India and Pakistan. Funds related to terrorist causes have been frozen. These are shrewd tactics.    
  In the end, a militant force of 'religious' zealots will not have a change of heart. No matter how much aid we pour out on the citizens of the countries which house them, they will continue their campaigns. If not because of U.S. force, there will be another excuse for all they need is a reason for action.    
  Two weeks ago today a terror which America had never seen on its shores was waged. The world watched and is still waiting.    

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Monday September 24, 2001

  There is a line from the film Body Heat that I remember vividly, "Everything is just a little bit askew."    
  What have we learned from events of a couple of weeks ago? Have we changed the way we think? Have we changed the way we relate to the world around us? Or are we going back to the comfort zones of the past and "worshipping the goddess of getting on" as John Ruskin famously proclaimed in his Traffic lecture to Bradford businessmen in the mid 1800's?    
  Events of 11 September changed the world. To rethink the way we do the things we do will take more focus than the usual 21st century crisis of the hour mentality. A change of heart and mind is required. The rest will follow.    

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Sunday September 23, 2001

  "Every kingdom divided againt itself shall be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."    

Matthew 12:25


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Saturday September 22, 2001

  It is 6 a.m. and a foggy mist covers the lake and mountains in front of me. There is no wind, not even the slightest breeze. It is so still that only the chirping of a few lone birds fills the air. This silence seems to flow up from London where the city is on high alert. Deserted streets and a sense of doom and foreboding permeate the air. An ultimatum has been handed down. We have heard the response. We wait.    
  There was a time when a period of mourning would be given out of respect to those who lost loved ones. Today we mourn but we have not been given a proper period to grieve. We are expected to get back up. Wives of spouses caught up in the massacre of last week are put on the world stage not even one week on.    
  In the world at large, we have witnessed a sudden meltdown in the equity markets. Bond Street is empty, airports are quiet, and the free flow of goods has been disrupted. The world is in shock. We have all been affected and we all need time to put this in perspective.    
  GE's earnings report yesterday put paid to the idea that the world has come to an end. An ounce of reason returned with the market adding 3% to GE's stock price. With it's exposure to both the aviation and insurance sectors, this ought to restore some balance to the hysteria of the last week. Others are already racing to blame their poor earnings reports on the terrorist attacks. Did anyone notice how few people were on those long-haul flights to LA? In former times, the number lost on one plane would have been the full total lost on four planes last week. The industry was in trouble before. Nobody paid attention.    
  So we've had our reality check. We've taken the big hits. The consumer, perhaps a little more thoughtful, will come back. Just give them time to regroup. Give them time to mourn.    

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Friday September 21, 2001

  Existentialists have questioned our existence time and again. Why were we born now and not then? Why are we here and not there? Why are we us and not them?    
  Continuing on from our out of balance theme of yesterday's letter, it is time to think about how we do the things we do. When you woke up this morning what was on your mind? Chances are you had a long list of tasks. These tasks so consumed you that perhaps you didn't even walk outside to greet the day before heading for your garage and your car.    
  Ultimately, the result of all the activities of human beings in the free world is to provide a better life for the world's citizens. If this is the case, then the most important thing is people. So why is it that people bear the brunt of our wrath when things don't go our way. When a car is going too slow, we honk the horn. We are running late. Our agenda is more important than theirs.    
  John Ruskin, in Unto this Last wrote, "There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others." I would suggest that this is the bottom line.    

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Thursday September 20, 2001

  A discouraging trend of technological innovation has been the increasing lack of the human touch. Suddenly we are able to live and work anywhere. We can go out when and where we please. We can choose to ignore the world around us. Inadvertantly we have created isolation.    
  A consequence of this isolation has been an inability to understand our neighbor. Our immediate reaction to an idea which is not like ours is to reject it on the basis of high principle. We are right. They are wrong. Our position is justified. Our isolation is increased.    
  The failure of U.S. intelligence services to get wind of last week's atrocities is symptomatic of the barriers we have raised. We deemed technology to be our savior. We thought man's knowledge could be perfected in machines to save us the misery of communicating with each other. And then we were stunned when a small group of zealots turned our technology against us with tools as old as time itself. There are lessons here.    

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Wednesday September 19, 2001

  Knowledge is power was the mantra just a few years ago. Nowhere is this more true than when dealing with a rogue state. Afghanistan is a desolate land with harsh winds, rugged mountain paths and little in the way of modern amenities. Our soldiers would do well to understand the nature of the challenge before them by reading an article in Tuesday's The Times by Nick Danziger. This is no ordinary war. Where war is a way of life    

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Tuesday September 18, 2001

  Most of us while driving have, at one time or another, taken our eye off the wheel. In many cases it is only by the grace of God that we are here to recount the tale today.    
  During the best of times, focus is required to stay on track. Now we are in crisis mode. Cool heads are required. Effective communication is paramount. In diverting resources to address emergency issues, we automatically stop paying attention to something else. Most times this works for the good and results in more effective utililisation of existing assets.    
  Fallout from Tuesday's attack on the U.S. is quickly escalating into an international 'war on terrorism'. In moving swiftly to deliver an effective military response we ignore the full economic implications to our peril. In allocating major resources to improve airport security we risk threats to other critical infrastructure. Allocation, allocation, allocation! A continuous review of assets and resources is required. Be vigilant.    

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Monday September 17, 2001 - first displayed here as Week-end Strategies  
  The impact of the hits taken by the American mainland cannot be underestimated. Here are some things you can do to make a difference.    
  • Buy U.S. Stocks. Aim to put liquidity back into the marketplace. Keep existing investments on hold.
  • Purchase airplane tickets. If you're living in America, it doesn't matter where. If you are living abroad, consider taking that trip to America that you have been putting off. As a famous U.S. leader once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
  • Keep cash invested. Look to the long-run. Aim to shore up confidence in a system that has made the U.S. the wealthiest nation on earth.
  • Donate to U.S. relief effort.
  • Tell someone you love them. Give your neighbor a hug. Listen to each other and learn.

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Sunday September 16, 2001

  There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:    

a time to be born and a time to die,

  a time to plant and a time to uproot,    

a time to kill and a time to heal,

  a time to tear down and a time to build,    

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

  a time to mourn and a time to dance,    

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

  a time to embrace and a time to refrain,    

a time to search and a time to give up,

  a time to keep and a time to throw away,    

a time to tear and a time to mend,

  a time to be silent and a time to speak,    

a time to love and a time to hate,

  a time for war and a time for peace.    

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8




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Saturday September 15, 2001

  I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that unfolded in the U.S. this week. Watching the call-out of the National Guard this morning brought a renewed flood of tears. A spirit of generosity and warmth that will not be broken is the hallmark of an American. An innocence that cannot comprehend the persona of religious zealots who believe fundamentally that they have died for Allah in perpetrating such a senseless act.    
  And herein lies the problem. A strong military response will only fuel this anti-American sentiment within the hearts of zealots that exist within these rogue states. Are whole countries and countrymen to be slaughtered? We are now seeing many of these states pay lip service to the U.S. in assisting with any effort to weed out terrorism. Actions speak louder than words. What action are these heads of states prepared to take to remove these terrorists from their countries? Can public pressure and sentiment be changed by the actions of these leaders?    
  The U.S. is gearing up for a strong military response. Perhaps a strong defence is the best offense.    

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  Friday September 14, 2001    
  In honor of all who lost their lives this week no letter will be published today.    

Thursday September 13, 2001

  Will President Bush accept the olive branch? The world has united in outrage against the atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians on American soil. Now comes the test. America is the strongest, proudest, most independent nation on this earth. The country is united in its grief and resolve. Nothing will deter Americans from the values which they hold dear. Will they accept help? That is the question.    
  Bill Clinton missed a tremendous opportunity. He had the remarkable ability to listen, to agree with everyone around him. He developed consensus but he failed to unite a country strongly divided against itself. Now America is ready to flex its might. The world is watching. Will it be able to reach out to fellow world citizens to work together for peace and prosperity?    
  This is an opportunity to look outside of American shores. Rather than hunkering down, it is a time to reach out. Rather than standing alone, it is the time to ask for help. I pray America is big enough to accept the olive branch.    

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Wednesday September 12, 2001




This week's horrific terrorist attack on American soil is a stark reminder of the dangers of complacency. From a human perspective, it reminds us of the fragility of life on this earth. Are we doing all we can to preserve it? Instinctively we question our values and how we utilise our time. Are we building wisely for the future, laying the groundwork for something bigger than ourselves or are we squandering the future for today?    
  Risk is built into every human endeavor. How would you feel if you were head of the CIA today surveying the aftermath of the worst terrorist strike to hit American soil? How does one balance the cost of controls against the benefit? After all, not everything results in an end to human life. Remember the rogue trader in Singapore who brought down a 250 year old merchant bank. Step into the shoes of Peter Baring and relive the horror of believing the figures and ignoring the signals.    
  Take a look at your organisation. As you walk through the halls late at night, is there more there than meets the eye? Are there signals you might be missing? Most of all, are you prepared for a worst case scenario?    
  Tuesday, September 11, 2001    

A Prayer for America

A Prayer for the World

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