Monday, September 11, 2006

Home of the Brave

Five years ago today, though I didn't know it at the time, my best friend's mother died in the Pentagon. I had just retired from the Navy, and spent all day watching the live coverage of the attacks and their aftermath. Like most Americans, I was frightened and angry.

I was heartened when U.S. troops went into Afghanistan and, for a time, seemed to have driven out the Taliban and helped to establish a democratic form of government in that country.

CNN's Anderson Cooper was reporting this morning on a 9/11 memorial ceremony being conducted by U.S. troops in Afghanistan when a rocket attack erupted. Cooper and the troops had to run for cover, and CNN cut back to Soledad O'Brian in the anchor studio.

I was doubtful about the invasion of Iraq, but at the time believed my President and other political leaders who told me that Saddam Hussein had an active WMD program and that he had been connected to the 9/11 attacks. I was proud of our troops when Hussein's statue in Baghdad came tumbling down. It was a year later that we discovered the scene had been staged by a U.S. Army psychological operations unit.

We know now that Hussein had no WMD and was not connected to the 9/11 attacks. We also know that the seemingly endless insurgency and civil war in Iraq was the direct result of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's refusal to plan for a post-combat phase to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

We also know that the policy to invade Iraq was formulated in the late 90s by the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, whose membership included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and other notables in the George W. Bush administration.

In today's Washington Post, Thomas E. Ricks tells us of the grim situation in Iraq's Anbar province.
The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western al Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there…

…One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically--and that's where wars are won and lost…"

For five years, our leaders have misled us. They have misused our magnificent military and trampled on our cherished Constitution.

CNN just showed footage of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, two of the chief architects of America's post-9/11 deconstruction, singing Battle Hymn of the Republic at a ceremony in Washington D.C. I feel ill.

We have much to mourn this September 11th, not the least of which is the dramatic decline of our country's standing in the world. But I think it's vital to remember that America is more than the sum of its politicians--much more.

America no doubt means something to every individual citizen. A CNN poll taken this morning indicates that most American's feel that things will never be the same in the post-9/11 world. That may be. But I also think we have an opportunity to make our country a better place than it was before. How can we, as individual citizens, do that?

The formula may be this simple. Give a hoot about your fellow human beings. Read. Think. Vote. And above all, do not succumb to the politics of fear. America is the home of the brave, remember?

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Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.

4 comments:

  1. Jeff, no one could have said that better. What keeps me going is that I believe our Constitution is arguably the most exquisite product ever of human genius. And I believe that there is still a small flame of decency abroad in the land that will let us recover what we've lost at home and abroad after this administration is gone. It won't be easy but I believe our Nation is equal to the task. Mike

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  2. Thanks, Mike. I too believe there is a spark of decency in the land--far more than a spark. If we look for it, and encourage it, I think we all find that there's far more decency out there than we realize.

    Most of that decency reveals itself in small, unglorified moments that occur millions, billions, perhaps (and hopefully) trillions of times a day in this country as people, in the course of their daily lives and pursuits take small moments to pay attention to the worth and dignity of others.

    Here's looking forward to becoming the "kinder, gentler nation" and that "shining city on a hill."

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  3. I remember! Looks like we were riding the same "brave" wavelength yesterday. :)

    Oh, and Monica visited the blog yesterday to spread a little republican shame. Alas, her last name wasn't Lewinsky. Oh, the anger that resides in the conservative breast when they find out the funny lady who likes to knit has a liberal heart. ;)

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  4. Kerstin,

    Great to hear from you. How soon do I get to commission the world's greatest anti-Bush administration sweater? ;-)

    I'll have to pop over and see what the non-Lewinski Monica had to say, but...

    How dare you have the audicity to both knit and think?

    Best,

    Jeff

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