The television and radio are full of remembrances today. You’ll probably see no shortage of Sept. 11-themed photos on the web today, and public figures will make no end of references to what happened seven years ago.
I, like so many others, mourn the dead. But I also mourn that a nation has such a short-term memory and an unwillingness to understand more than the sight of a burning building.
Yes, we should well have invaded Afghanistan. We had a moral obligation to go in there and clean the place out like the rat-infested barn that it was.
After all, we created the rats. We funded and armed the groups that became the Taliban and al Qaida because we wanted to give the then Soviet Union the same kind of headaches and heartburn that we suffered in Vietnam. And after they helped send the Red Army home, they felt they had the same sort of license to begin oppressing their own. Eventually, they did what any well-conditioned Doberman would do – turn on those who fed and raised it.
We owed the world a cold, focused rage to go clean up a mess we had created two decades earlier.
And we botched it. We failed to give the troops who went there adequate numbers and materiel. We failed to maintain the focus on our responsibility, which allowed so many other countries to jump on a bandwagon of revanche against other groups and nations. We failed to tell other countries to stay out of our way in one small corner of earth.
And we failed to remember why we were doing it. We let evangelical and neo-colonialforces in our society twist and mutate it into an old-fashioned capital-C Crusade in which we were leading the world into broad, sunlit pastures. We failed to remember that we were, in fact, going back to clean up a nasty, brutal mess that we let fester and mold and spread.
And then we as a nation allowed a small group of people with visions of an American empire of resources twist the vision of a ‘war on terror’ into an excuse to go into Iraq. Forget all those who still say that there was evidence that Iraq wanted to sow terror in the U.S. After seven years, any semblance of connected, systematic evidence of such an Iraqi effort simply isn’t there.
And after five years of what is – and yes, it really is if you study the history – another damn Vietnam, we’re finally realizing that we lost sight of what we were supposed to do in Afghanistan. Except that, unlike Vietnam, we may very well have destabilized the region we were trying to uplift and control.
We have allowed our government to misuse our armed forces, stretch them thin, and then ask them to go back and do what we didn’t allow them to do – scrub Afghanistan with a wire brush. Assuming, of course, that we would have any better luck than Afghanistan’s previous occupiers.
Seven years after, the memory of all those dead people in New York and northern Virginia and Pennsylvania has been besmirched because we allowed a third-rate political scion and his Nixon-era handlers to corrupt an opportunity to make good on one of many errors of judgement.
The next time you hear someone say that we’re on a mission from God, please, please demand that they show a receipt or a work order or a certified letter from God. If they can’t, tell them to go to hell.