Homer, Ronald, the war
No, it doesn’t make me particularly proud to think that my dependence on a cartoon momentarily overshadowed the proper respect due to a former U.S. President… or, as they like to say, “leader of the free world.”
I share a birthday with Reagan (plus Babe Ruth and Bob Marley — I am just too cool). He came along exactly 63 years before me and took office when I was just six years old, making him the first president I can really remember. Though I can’t say I agree with every platform he took, I now think, comparing him to the other presidents I’ve known in my lifetime, that he commands more respect than all of them combined. I will always remember the dignity with which he presented himself. Not an easy task given his previous life.
One thing that’s crossed my mind as I’ve been seeing and hearing the endless Reagan tributes on the news is my feelings about his covert support for anti-Communist regimes around the world. I used to be disgusted that our government could secretly fund and equip an attempt to overthrow another sovereign nation. Now, I think it’s the only way to go.
I’m just so tired of the media circus and endless bickering that surround our “war on terrorism.” I quote that phrase because I just can’t buy it as a legitimate concept. Sure, acts of terrorism have been carried out or supported by certain specific foreign governments, but terrorism itself is more of an intangible entity, hiding in shadows all around the world. I still can’t quite bring myself to believe we can fight it the way we’re trying to fight it.
I’m really glad to hear that we’re finding and killing the bad guys at times, but overall I still think our very presence is creating too much chaos… and probably driving some otherwise normal people to the insurgent extremism that we’re still seeing.
I’m still hooked on the idea of doing this all on the down-low. Train the right people the right way, get inside, kill all the right bastards — just enough of them to give ordinary people the opportunity to rise up and take their countries back from religious extremists who won’t accept a changing, evolving, interdependent world. I’ve seen plenty of posts out in the blogosphere wondering, “Why aren’t the Iraqi people rising up? Why aren’t they rooting out and killing the bastards who are trying to sabotage their great shot at a free, prosperous future?” Well, I’m starting to think it’s just because we’re there. They’d rather just sit back and let the better-armed-and-armored foreigners do it. But if they were armed, funded, and made fully aware that the only way their country could be saved from despotism and despair was to do it themselves, they just might rise to the occasion.
Yes, it would be difficult to recruit and train the people we would need to carry it out this way. Here’s what I wished we could’ve heard from our president a few weeks after 9/11:
“I am calling upon all of our Arab-American citizens to serve their country and the world. The cold, hard fact is that we need extremely effective spies, operatives, and assassins to defeat these terrorists. Only those of you with native language skills and cultural knowledge are properly equipped to carry out these difficult and dangerous missions. We will be actively recruiting the best and brightest of you, and the monetary rewards for rising to this occasion will be considerable. But there can be no greater reward than the better future you can help provide for the countries of your origin and your fellow Americans.”
Damn, that’d be sweet.
One more thing I have to mention before I drop the subject for a long while (except of course for occasional comments on Bunker’s site). I’ve read a lot about recently about the “flypaper strategy,” in which our large military presence in the Middle East is viewed as a lightning rod to draw terrorists out to attack our trained, well-equipped military rather than strike civilians here on U.S. soil. I’d like to make two observations:
- It took less than a dozen guys to pull off 9/11. Are the bad guys that busy attacking our troops in the Middle East that they can’t spare ten men to send here to do something that makes 9/11 look tame by comparison?
- The idea of using our troops primarily as bait is tough enough to comprehend, but after all, they are trained to fight (and they do it damn well — I am extremely proud of my brothers in-law and my old buddy Drew). The trouble is that this knowingly puts thousands upon thousands of innocent (and pretty defenseless) people in harm’s way too, the very people that we’re supposed to be helping out, and that just ain’t right. Yes, I realize that the U.S. government’s job is to provide for the well-being of our citizens above all else, but the “flypaper” explanation regards the lives of citizens of other countries as completely worthless. I can’t accept that this is the best we can do.