Four nine-elevens later America finds
itself more politically polarized than at any time since the
Vietnam War ended 30 years ago. To a great extent that is
because it has lost the 'War on Terror' declared while the
nation stood united in shock.
Bush stood atop the rubble and declared that war. Soon after
that, in his role as commander-in-chief, he dispatched military
forces to Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden, destroy his
terroristic sect, Al Qaeda, and punish the then-ruling Taliban
faction governing that county and harboring the terrorists and
their training camps.
it seems to have been something close to a success. Taliban is
gone; an elusive Bin Laden is holed up somewhere in the vicinity
of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border; U.S. troops -- the
proverbial boots on the ground -- are in tactical control. But
Al Qaeda is not destroyed. If its leadership and organization
are in disarray, its followers are still capable of inflicting
terror. The subway bombings in London this summer were a clear
indication of that.
casualties in war and in Afghanistan the cost, so far, has been
289 killed and 582 wounded -- tragic to be sure, but within
tolerable limits for such an operation assuming its
disturbing and potentially dangerous is the even more obvious
fact that, somewhere in the process of mounting a response to
Nine-Eleven, something has gone terribly wrong.
another explanation, it would appear that it the anger and fear
of that day has been used to further objectives parallel to
of Iraq and the subsequent emergence of guerilla warfare there
is a premier example of one of those quests having spun out of
control. We're not sure at this point of the motivation.
Deposing a ruthless dictator, eliminating the threat from
weapons of mass destruction, bringing an exploited people the
benefits of democracy have in their turn been given. So too have
securing control of oil resources, imposing the will of the
world's most powerful nation, crusading against a militant
extreme of Islam and avenging the insult of an attempted
assassination of the President's father.
month the 2,000th American soldier will die in the dessert for
whatever cause he or she was there. There is an untold count of
Iraqi dead -- civilian, military and paramilitary.
fourth anniversary of a date forever etched in the memories of
the present generation we are shocked by what has happened along
the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. To be sure, that is the result
of a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. But it also
is clear that the official response, whether inept or worse,
contributed to the toll.
Since the Towers fell we have been
bombarded by political clichés related to the tragic event. It
would seem that 'homeland security', 'Iraqi freedom', 'W.M.D.s',
'Patriot Act' and the others are meant to market a concept
rather than describe a reality. That was certainly so a few
weeks ago when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began to
substitute "global struggle against violent extremism" for 'War
on Terror'. The acronym GSAVE is more catchy than GWOT.
Thankfully, that but of spinsmanship did
not take hold. But ought we not attempt a thorough -- and, yes,
objective and non-partisan -- look at where we have come since
September 11, 2001, and, more importantly, where we are going?
to read a more erudite treatise on this topic published in the
New York Times Magazine.