Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years On



Has it really been seven years?

Seven years ago this morning, nineteen men executed a plan, hatched in an Afghan hovel, to use our most advanced everyday technology against the psyche of America. Their tactic succeeded beyond their master-mind's wildest dreams. Strategically, the paroxysm of patriotic anger that followed proved, as it had in December of 1941, that for all of the saturation of American culture throughout the world, the world still does not understand what makes Americans tick.

Sadly, that we are still embroiled in a war without end, with active, if disparate, conventional force campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a multitude of unconventional campaigns in places around the globe that very few of us can even point to on a map, demonstrates that our current national leadership does not understand what makes Americans tick, either.

Americans want what they want, now. Tomorrow is a frustrating delay. Next week is an unacceptable imposition. Next year is... well, next year what they want will be out of style. It was stylish to wave our flag and sing songs about American vengeance...seven years ago. By the 11th of September, 2002, most Americans had taken the flag off their car and replaced it with the banner du jour--"Save the baby whales," "My child is an honor student," "Dale, Jr. rocks."

I've said it time and again since the beginning of this mess, American wars are won quickly and with unlimited violence. American wars are lost drawn out and limited--not because we fail on the battlefield, but because Americans lose patience and withdraw their support very quickly.

Only two major American wars in the last 150 years, The War Between the States and World War II, ended satisfactorily. Both were considered inordinately long by the American people--both lasted less than four years. Had it not been for Sherman's race through Georgia in 1864, Lincoln may very well have not been re-elected and the new US presidential administration might very well have accepted a peace with the Confederacy. Had it not been for Patton's race across France in the fall of 1944 and a stirring photograph of a flag raising on a Japanese-held island in the Pacific in February of 1945, the American people would have lost patience and readily accepted peace with Germany and Japan short of unconditional surrender.

I fear we are on the path to acceptance of a "peace" with radical Islam. We are seven years into this war, and there is no victorious end in sight. American apathy mounts with each passing day. Our "leaders" are more concerned with maintenance of political power than with making the hard choices required for victory in war.

I hope I'm wrong. But, hope, no matter how audacious, is not a strategy, nor an acceptable course of action.
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