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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

A Year Later and Are We Safer?

Here we are, a year after the invasion of Iraq?

Everywhere I turn, from CNN to the papers to local news to NPR, all have been noting the fact that a year ago we were beginning the invasion of Iraq.

And now that we are a year away, do we feel safer? It was a question blazoned across the pages of USA TODAY, delivered to my hotel room in Los Angeles. Well, I'm not sure how the rest of the world feels but I feel less safe than I did a year ago.

I have not been in New York this week but out on the road, conducting meetings about a variety of projects, seeing old friends and organizing business but in the background, I have been watching the city where I live closely.

On one hand, it is battered by a winter storm, a St. Patrick's Day winter storm which is so like the St. Patrick Winter Storms that raged through my Minnesota childhood that it seemed strangely familiar. But what is unfamiliar is that the city where I am now living seems to be battening down the hatches not so much against the snow as against what might happen on the one year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Tripp will not be taking any subways and I am grateful that he won?t be. I [and I think I am not the only one] am painfully aware of what happened in Madrid this past week, on the two and a half year anniversary of 9/11. I have a deep seated, visceral fear that something like that will happen in New York.

Even before I headed out on this road trip, I left behind a city that was feeling vulnerable. A part of me wanted to [and still might] send flowers to the consulate of Spain in New York in memoriam of what happened there.

While we mourn the dead and wounded in Madrid, we must also mourn the dead and wounded in Iraq, the numbers of which are growing. In the aftermath of Madrid, a growing number of participants in the Iraqi adventure of the United States and Britain are backpedaling, like Poland, claiming they were misled about the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Actually, I suspect a disingenuous effort to avoid the fate of Madrid by distancing themselves from actions taken. However, it is a telling statement about our current international situation that former allies are beginning to look for cover in the wake of Madrid. We were wrong about the WMD's and the price we are now paying for being wrong is being let loose by those who stood with us.

While we are finding ourselves distanced by our allies, we are also facing a growing discontent at home which questions where we are going. And if the questions are mounting at home, they are resoundingly loud outside the US. In the majority of countries surveyed by a USA TODAY poll this past week indicates that most Western countries are out of sync with our views of our actions. We feel we were justified; others do not.

We have reached some kind of crossroads and the point where the roads crossed was in Madrid, with the explosions that devastated that country. That attack has pushed Spain toward withdrawing from the Coalition which is occupying Iraq. That attack has struck fear into others who now question the information that led them to join the US in Iraq and that attack is causing New York to batten down the hatches and to hope for the best as the anniversary of war loomed upon them.

The news is full of this and it is full of the banal news of our cult of personality. The streets may be full of blood but we still seem to care about Courtney Love?s latest misadventure in a degree that is equal to the blood in the streets in Baghdad.

Failure to focus is a serious disadvantage in a country which is at the crossroads.