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It's September 10th in America, and birds are singing as butterflies and rainbows color the sky...
My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.Sure, it was awful, but face it - subsequent events have proven it wasn't that big a deal. Those silly wars in the Middle East don't get consideration in this discussion. Real men walk away from fights. There have been no other attacks on US soil, so our responses obviously were a result of hot headed over reaction. And that, by the way, is just what the terrorists want - fearful. over. reaction. We played right into their hands.
Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.
Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so.
As we do by monitoring their terrorist communications - which is the real point of this column:
My second question is this: What does history tell us about our earlier responses to traumatic events?It's like that silly communist thing that collapsed under it's own weight. But not nearly as deadly as the Cuban missile crisis, which was an over reaction to that silly communist thing.
My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the "quasi-war" with France; the denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers; the Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution; the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security; the McCarthy scare of the early 1950's, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry.
The argument boils down to this: All those draconian measures we've taken to prevent another 9/11 have been proven useless - because there haven't been any more 9/11s!
By fighting them, we are losing. By fighting, we reveal our weakness. We only fight them out of fear, and fear is what they want. By killing them we make more of them. If we fight them, they win.
BECAUSE OF BUSH!!!!
Fearless Lefty bloggers weigh in here here and about 50 more here. But as a military guy/Iraq vet still stationed overseas and thus likely to have my every phone call home heard by Karl Rove I have DOUBLE ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY.
Oh how they must wish they were me.
Update: While I'm on a roll, now that we have DNA technology that could prove guilt or innocence conclusively, we must abolish the death penalty! I demand you take these arguments seriously!
[caveat: I did not read the linked article as it was behind the NYT $$$-firewall]
I think the basic problem is that the author is comparing apples & oranges: you can't compare 9/11 to the Civil War as a whole. You could compare it to Ft. Sumter where the immediate ramifications did not hold dire consequences for the whole of the union. Likewise, 9/11 (both tactically & operationally) did not have a significant effect on us as a country. It certainly had a strategic effect though, and same with Ft. Sumter.
Anyway, that's my 2 cents for now.Posted by liber accipiter at January 31, 2006 03:34 AM
I hope all is well for you. I am a bit confused by your post. Either you were sarcastically mocking the notion that engaging the enemy in battle on the War on Terror is a waste of time, or you have seen so many friends suffer that you are genuinely wondering if it is all worth it. Given what most of your posts are advocating, I believe you were being sarcastic, but I'm just checking.
You are in my prayers, along with our brothers in arms engaged in this fight. I know a bunch of guys who have gotten discouraged about the war because of their own personal losses, but most of these folks got there because they need some pastoral care and haven't had very much. Part of that antidote is appreciation, and I cannot thank you enough for the way you apperciate EVERYONE in this war on terror, especially those who who have suffered much. I hope that you too are doing OK. You and your wife are amazing people. I might get to Germany for a short tour this year, or tagging along on a unit deployment. If you haven't PCS'd by then I try to look you up.
I remain convinced that this war is worth all the sacrifices we face because I am convinced the enemy will be more able to bring more terror to our shores if we had not engaged them. They were emboldened by our restraint in the 20 years before this war, but now restraint can bring a nuke into an American harbor, or worse.
I read Greyhawk's post as a mocking of the Times piece equivocation of 9/11 to other events in American history... ie: Since 9/11 didn't (or couldn't) result in the destruction of America, hey, maybe it's not as bad as everyone says... No need to overreact!
Greyhawk is spot on with his responses.Posted by Son Of The Godfather at January 31, 2006 09:48 AM
good grief.....these are exactly the same arguments made in 1968.Posted by Salminio at January 31, 2006 05:00 PM
I agree that it's an apples/oranges comparison. In addition, the enemies we fought in the American Revolution, Civil War, etc. weren't terrorists of the kind we know today. It's a new enemy in an age of limitless technology and a seamless ability to communicate undercover. If 9/11 teaches us anything as time passes - let it teach us to never be asleep at the wheel again, to pay attention to the smallest warning and to be vigilant, ever vigilant to protect our way of life.
Oh, and I'm not just a "casual commenter" here - we lost a loved one on 9/11. You might say that makes my opinion jaded, but I would disagree. It makes my opinion more relevant.
In memory of Heather Lee Smith, Flight 11Posted by Kris, in New England at January 31, 2006 05:07 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)