Friday, September 08, 2006

That Coming Anniversary ...

Ellen Goodman at the Boston Globe writes about how far we've come in the five years since 9/11:

But here is something I never imagined five years ago: that America would lose our status as the good guy in the struggle against terrorism. I didn't imagine that our government would squander the righteous role won for us the hard way by victims falling from the Twin Towers and firefighters racing to their deaths.

Al Qaeda was a uniter, not a divider. After the attacks, the whole world seemed to be on our side, with the single, memorable exception of Palestinians dancing in the streets. Some 200,000 Germans marched in solidarity. Flowers arrived at our embassies. Even the reflexively anti-American newspaper Le Monde proclaimed, ``We Are All Americans."

When we went into Afghanistan in hot pursuit, the world stayed with us. But then we swung from a just war to a preemptive war, from a war on terror to a war of choice, from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein.

``When we crossed the [Iraq] border, there was another great pause, then a transfer of sympathy," an American intelligence officer told Newsweek. ``The entire Islamic world took a step to the right." The Bush administration imagined flowers and rose water, shock and awe, mission accomplished. It failed to imagine civil war, and that step to the right.

We went from the Twin Towers to Abu Ghraib, from civil defense to civil war, from innocent passengers to soldiers in Haditha. We blew it all on Iraq. [emphasis mine -- zhak] In one poll, Europeans now find us more of a threat to world stability than even Iran. In a survey of 14 countries, none of them believe that removing Saddam made the world safer. And in Iraq itself, only 2 percent of the people now believe we invaded to liberate them from tyranny while 76 percent think we did it ``to control Iraqi oil."
Bullies tend to pick on the weak. The bullies who are "leading" this country felt that invading Iraq, a country weakened by UN Sanctions and despotic rule, would be as near a walkover as made no difference and a win-win proposition: show all those Muslims the US is super tough and super strong, and gosh golly gee whiz, all that lovely black gold just there for the taking. The bullies leading this country knew they possessed no valid reason to invade a sovereign state, but felt that quick victory would come and pesky questions silenced. History most often lies in the hands of the victors, after all. In the ramp up to the invasion, I can recall having a discussion with a dear friend who bought the Bush regime spin hook, line and sinker. I pointed out my view, which was that we can't just go around invading countries. (I supported the offensive against Afghanistan. I would still be supporting it if I felt that the Bush regime were capable of actually conducting a war properly -- namely, go in, defeat the enemy and any specific objectives (Osama, anyone?), keep civilian casualties to a minimum while you're doing that, and then clean up the mess you've made.) I said to my friend that while there could well be WMD in Iraq, we simply had no right to invade them, because they had not attacked us. The United States of America should not attack first. We're supposed to be the good guys. And my friend said to me, "let me ask you this, would you rather fight them over there, or over here?" My response was that I didn't want to fight them in either place, unless it was absolutely inescapable.

The invasion of Iraq was supposed to show the rest of the world that the bully-boys who are "running" this country are tough & have big brass ones & not to mess around with the red, white & blue. North Korea & Iran were supposed to see this display of might & shock & awe and be sufficiently shocked to be scared to death henceforth that they would be next.

But you cannot force a country to accept democracy at gunpoint. The idea that anyone should even think such a thing is possible is ludicrous. Democracy is all about choice, isn't it?

And North Korea & Iran, far from being shocked&awed, are instead well aware that the mightier they are, they less the likelihood that the bully-boys will go after them, however much they really really want to. I fully expect the Bush regime to continue their bullying and to continue messing up everything they touch. They are literally incapable of doing anything right because they cannot learn from past mistakes -- or even admit to past mistakes. The only real question at this point is whether the bully-boys can be contained somewhat (here's hoping the American people recognize what is going on in this country & vote Democrat in November) and thus whether the damage to this nation and the world might also be contained.

Are we smart enough to do that?

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