At the moment I’m reading Bob Woodward’s account of President Bush and the aftermath of September 11 in Bush at War. I plan on going through a few of these books in the coming weeks. Timely reading with the 9-11 hearings wrapping up in the news. Read on for more…
The book definitely puts all the players in an amazing light. Far from the bumbling goofs that the media makes the administration out to be, they improvise and pull together under the sudden unprecedented crisis. This is in stark contrast to past responses to the previous Trade Center Bombing and the attack on the USS Cole. Personally, I marvel at the restraint that the administration showed at a time when I wanted to see footage of nuclear mushroom clouds over Kabul. Things started out slow and rough, but suddenly gelled in the last weeks of the war. Published in 2002, this book has a lot of bits that the media is only now getting around to.
It’s amazing what the US was able to accomplish with so very few troops on the ground, air power, suitcases of cash, and the strength of the local people. It is a strategy that we were only able to partly make use of in Iraq by way of the Kurds. It is a testament to the will of the Afghan people that they so wanted to throw off the reins of tyranny when the prospect of help by the US first appeared. It is something that we were not able to leverage in the Iraqi people.
For some more important reading to complement this, see documents of the 9-11 Commission. It is important to see the lengths that the al Qaeda network went to harm our country and how much more catastrophic that date could have been had all their plans come to fruition. Surely these and other plans are still foremost in their sick minds. This puts actions like the Iraq war into perspective when we consider an enemy willing to die at all costs for the benefit of their cause, even if it is at odds with the religion they imagine to serve. By that very token, nothing but death will stop the most dangerous and pathological of these fighters. Being in the middle of the conflict, we don’t have the total awareness of the actual scale of what history will prove it to be. Certainly unfortunate events like Abu Graib will give the US a black eye, but the fact that we are punishing our wrong doers rather than rewarding them as Saddam Hussein did under his dictatorship, or tolerating them as the Saudi kingdom did until recently, goes to show that we have a moral high ground overall.
We still have a ways to go in the war on terror before we can feel anywhere near the freedom we felt on Sept 10, 2001. We may possibly go through another armed conflict against countries that continue to aid and harbor terrorists, countries like Iran for their threat of nuclear terrorism, or Libya for their false renouncement of terror. We may have to feel further sacrifice for time to come, and may at times have to be the lone participant. In the end, the goal is the same as any other conflict that has brought us here today: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, without having to check the current Homeland Security Threat Advisory. Anything short of that is to accept defeat. I shudder to think of what might have occurred had another administration been in the White House. Perhaps we would even have ceded North Carolina to Afghanistan as a peace measure had a certain Democrat been in office.