How Did We Get Here?
by Time and Circumstance
…the land of
the free and the home of the brave…
* The worst Terrorist Attack in the history of this Nation has yet to be adequately investigated, with this administration being the most significant obstacle to finding out how such an event occurred and, most importantly, how to prevent it from happening again.
* The man whom our Government tells us is responsible for this horrific act of terror is never mentioned by our Government after we have been informed that this individual has been "marginalized".
* This administration creates a huge new bureaucracy to give the illusion of increased vigilance against further terrorist attacks, but fails to adequately fund the first responders or adequately secure our most vulnerable positions from attack.
* Legislation, hastily pushed through with virtually no time to debate and modify the unprecedented measures advocated, gives our Government the power to force its citizens to take medicines, the right to monitor their internet activity and their book purchases and the ability to accuse any American of “assisting terrorism” and stripping them of their citizenship.
* The Executive Branch has taken an American citizen away from the purview of the Federal Judicial System and rendered him persona non grata by placing him in Military custody without access to legal representation.
* The Justice Department - with the full support of this administration - is refusing a Judge’s order that a man who stands accused of conspiracy in the worst terrorist attack in this Nation’s history be given the Constitutionally mandated right to face his accuser in defense of his freedom and, most likely, his life. There exists the very real possibility that our Government will “disappear” this individual as well.
* One man stands to decide matters of life and death over the unlawfully imprisoned men of Guantanamo Bay absent any mechanisms to ensure a fair trial for the accused.
* A new doctrine has emerged in this country: the doctrine of pre-emption. That means that our Government can now invade sovereign Nations at its discretion. No evidence of a concrete threat is necessary.
* This administration uses threats and coercion as a substitute for diplomacy and then feigns surprise when International incidents spiral out of control.
* This administration’s push to justify an invasion of Iraq has compromised our Intelligence Agencies, which were subsequently blamed when administration claims proved dubious. “Technically correct” becomes the administration’s sole defense.
* This administration parses its words to the American people advocating war in order to shield itself from the narrow, legal definition of a lie while our Military is exposed to daily assaults during their Operation “Mission Accomplished” tour of duty.
* This administration insulted, bribed and threatened long-standing allies in its preparations for invading Iraq and, consequently, finds itself virtually alone in dealing with a situation which is increasingly spiraling out of control.
* This administration scoffs at the notion of full disclosure of its activities; hiding behind the veil of "National Security" to avoid answering uncomfortable questions about its actions and policies
Where the hell are we? Moreover, how did we get to this point? In what direction is this Nation headed? What will be the consequences if we continue traveling along our present course?
There exists, at this very moment, a growing danger to this Country which is being aggravated by and, in many cases, is a direct result of our Government’s policies. The World is a dangerous place: it always has been; that is nothing new. What is new, I believe, is an unbounded arrogance as a result of this Country’s historically short but virtually unprecedented position of Military and Economic dominance. Ironically, both our military superiority and our economic dominance are not what, at first glance, they seem to be.
Militarily, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the various factions in Iraq have illustrated once again that a conventional military force is ill-suited to fight an unconventional war. Our military machine is designed to overwhelm and subdue - a task which it so ably accomplished in short order during the initial invasion of Iraq. Now what? Daily our brave soldiers are killed or wounded by those whom our Government assured us would welcome us with flowers and cheers. These people cannot by blithely dismissed as “Saddam Loyalists” or extremists which fear our “establishment of democracy”. A war is a complex and chaotic event and so simple an explanation as loyalists or extremists does nothing to address the Iraqi’s legitimate concerns about our intentions and our behavior in their land. Almost daily, the resistance to our presence there seems to grow bolder and better organized. And yet…and yet, the senior members of this administration are more concerned with the battle of perceptions at home. None seem able to utter the words “organized resistance”; one very senior member going so far as to describe the bloodshed in Baghdad as being comparable to the unfortunate and tragic rate of violent crime in our Nation’s Capitol: Washington; D.C.. Doubly cursed he should be for attempting to minimize one tragedy by comparing it to another. Therein lies the arrogance of this administration for all to see. Unfortunately, these men are not the ones who are suffering death and injury because of that arrogance.
Economically, our dominance was and continues to be an illusion: smoke and mirrors and military might doing what truly “Free Trade” could not. We have enjoyed economic pre-eminence because our dollar has stood for long decades as the de facto currency of the World. That is changing. The Euro now holds greater value than our dollar and many Nations outside the European Union are beginning to turn to it in their international transactions. In fact, Saddam Hussein converted to Euros for his UN approved oil sales and North Korea and Iran are believed to be moving in the same direction in their business dealings. Many Nations in South America, stung by the strong-arm tactics of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, have entered into discussions on establishing a system of cooperative barter between participating Nations. Such developments suggest that the days of “dollar diplomacy” may soon become a thing of the past. The World Bank and IMF, although usually thought of as International Organizations, are clearly weighted toward US interests. In theory their mission, or reason to be, are laudable, but the corpses of economies who were forced to accede to their economic pogroms bear witness to their compromised values. A prescription of severe economic austerity for its citizens, privatization of its most profitable State-Owned businesses and the attendant capital flight which has occurred time after time further erodes American credibility in those Countries which have suffered as a result of IMF/World Bank policies; knowing them to be agents of our Nation’s interests.
So we are faced with the reality of a military that is unprepared for a different, unconventional type of war and an economy that is held together as much by threat and gimmickry as it is by the engines of capitalism. A truly untenable position if we as Americans aspire to empire. Is that truly what we want?
So now, we, as a Nation, find ourselves at a crossroads. Will we continue to support policies which enrich ourselves at the cost of the World or do we begin to realize that all of this World’s citizens desire what we desire: Justice, Equality and Security?
The World is ever changing and if our decisions destroy the very foundations of civilization, the World will go on still. We must understand that this planet does not require us; we require this planet - all of us, together. The time has come for a shift in our philosophy of what constitutes being a “good citizen”. Thanks to the relentless advances of technology, our World is, in practical terms, growing smaller. The things that we see are seen by the rest of the World as well - often more realistically. Even in those places that we consider somehow inferior to our “Western Culture”, they hear our words and know our actions. Our arrogance and hypocrisy could well be our undoing if we continue to pursue this path. As citizens of America, our civic responsibilities are greater than those citizens of other lands because everything that this Nation does holds far-reaching consequences not just for America and Americans but for the entire World. It has been said, “that with great power comes great responsibility” and I cannot help but agree with that sentiment. Many Americans feel powerless to affect change on our Government and its policies, but that is exactly what we must do: affect a change in this Nation before the consequences of our Government’s arrogant and selfish policies are visited upon us again.