I watched President Obama’s address about his administration’s strategy to attack and destroy ISIL (ISIS, those guys). Whatever else was behind the speech and the resulting actions, I believed that the nation will do some of what he said we will do. The US will bomb targets with smart bombs. It will supply and train the opposition to fight on the ground. And it will try to protect the homeland in the meantime.
The effectiveness of those actions remains to be seen. (American) “boots on the ground” is not in the plans, so the ground victory, if it is to be won, will be achieved by non-American forces. That is suspect, because their resolve is untested and unknown while the resolve of ISIS is unquestionable. One good thing about the barbarism of ISIS is that now that it is known, soldiers will not likely be taken alive. They will fight harder to win.
The commentary that followed the speech was very telling of the national polarity. I listened to Fox, then CNN, then MSNBC to get multiple perspectives. I read the comments of friends on Facebook from the left and the right. I really want to process all this with truth and not spin. Who the president is and what party s/he represents is less important to me than the nation. And statements like that get attacked these days. And that is a big problem.
We remember the attacks on 9/11 today. I remember them well. Compared historically across the years, it was this generation’s Pearl Harbor, its “Day of Infamy”. I’ve been to the memorial at Pearl Harbor, looking at the upside down, rusty hull of the Arizona. Someday I’ll visit the 9/11 Museum.
Now, there are differences for sure. Japan was a nation, armed to the teeth and an aggressor everywhere it went. It was a bully to its neighbors and practiced brutality not unlike ISIS. The band of hijackers who pulled off 9/11 were from multiple nations working with stolen weaponry and clandestine tactics. And they achieved what the Japanese never could – a successful attack on the US mainland. So the enemy was not as clearly defined – at least to some – on 9/11/01 as on 12/7/41
Another difference was the response. The nation was outraged in both instances, but the WW2 response spurred my parent’s generation to fight, kill and die in a war. The 2001 response has waned since the day of the attacks. There have been (what most people find to be) silly theories of the whole thing being staged, by then-president Bush’s administration, to fund military/industrial interests. And Osama Bin Laden was killed.
But it still looks many don’t know who he enemy is. I don’t know if there is a brand of radical Islam that doesn’t have as its expression the beheading and destruction of its detractors by blowing oneself up, but certainly the common belief system behind 9/11 and every attack and movement before and since is radical Islam. I view this brand of Islam as a faction, like the factions of any religion. It has attacked and will attack again. That’s an enemy. My enemy. Our enemy.
So I don’t know how successful the current approach will be in the war against this enemy. The most dubious assumption, as I said above, is the dependence on someone else to take ground. Aside from the Kurdish Peshmerga, it certainly looks and sounds like the practice of war is something new to those being relied upon. So is the resolution to fight.
Sadly, that resolution is also lacking in Americans, who either fail to call this the war it is or diminish its importance in their daily lives. It’s “over there” and not here. The way to not lose our heads, figuratively and actually, is to stay and protect “here”.
Among those killed on 9/11 were Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Jews, Muslims, men and women. It was an act of war. And that war continues. Despite the killing of Bin Laden and progressive degradation of Al Qaeda.
In my view, the best way to remember those who perished on 9/11 is to keep up the fight. I do believe that America and Western Civilization in general is both superior and worth fighting for. And I do believe that the enemy we battle is here is by far more evil than us; historical atrocities like Wounded Knee and slavery notwithstanding.
So, whatever the effectiveness the proposed actions by the president, at least there is action, at least there is movement in combating an enemy that is on the attack.