Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Well, another 9/11 has come and gone and thankfully nothing new happened yesterday. (However this morning some jerks went after the US Embassy in Damascus, Syria.)

I've noticed something about 9/11's since the memorable one in 2001, we're not angry as a nation anymore.
If you look at the national mood on 09/11/01 you'll see three main threads; shock, sadness and a righteous anger. It's as close to the same kind of anger felt by the US when Pearl Harbor was attacked by surprise. Both events offended our sense of "fair play" in relation to war and took our pride down a few pegs.
After Pearl Harbor we declared war on Japan and Germany declared war on us (to which we said, "GREAT! We were hoping we'd get a chance to give you jack-booted thugs a whuppin!") Then we got into a coalition of nations with a common interest and proceeded to liberate Europe and systematically destroy the Japanese Empire. By December 1, 1945 we were holding war crimes trials on the home soil of Germany and Japan. (Boy if that doesn't broadcast who won to a population, I don't know what does. "HI! We've kicked your ass and we're going to try and probably execute your military leaders who commited crimes against humanity on your soil, you all get to watch.")
Bang zoom, done. Fascism wiped out as a significant threat to the world.
After 9/11/01 we declared war on terror. (Ok, no political entity to really declare war on, but the terrorist is the enemy of the world, shouldn't be a problem to get people in on this right?)
We got the boys together, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, even China and said, "OK, we know Bin Laden did it. Let's get Al Qaeda." And we did. We went into Afghanistan and took out the Taliban who had been sheltering Osama and started either killing or capturing AQ agents. Ok, great, things are working out ok.
Then we did "Homeland Security."
Then we did the Patriot Act.
Then we did Iraq.
Then we found out Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. (NB: "Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?" is a question my dad likes to blurt out whenever he sees the president talk about Iraq. Whomever the Democrats are going to have running for president should just keep asking this whenever they are with Bush or Cheney on camera. I think if the Democrats did that in 2004 we'd be looking at President Kerry right now.)
Then we RE-ELECTED Bush after the last three things showed us that:
1.) Homeland Security is a joke. It's an inefficient department, FEMA, the nation's disaster management agency was left in the hands of a Horse Association president and Katrina showed what a great idea that was. The aircraft screeners were the same people who were screening airports before 9/11 but now they're government employees. The Homeland Security funds have now become more pork for congress to dole out to rural fire departments so they can buy haz mat trucks and command centers for the next big barn fire.
2.) The Republicans don't want smaller government anymore, and they apparently don't give a damn about the whole original concept of America, "People should be skeptical of their government." Now it's "you should be careful about what you say in times like this. blah blah blah." Look, the people who thought up the idea about the Patriot Act should have watched a movie called "The Manchurian Candidate." Angela Landsbury has a great speech towards the end where she talks about what kind of laws she'll get passed in the wake of the assassination of a political candidate. Watch that movie now, look at the Patriot Act and just start crying. Then vote the bums out of office in Novemeber. (The entire House is up for re-election, it could be done.)
3.) Iraq has shown us that smart people aren't in government anymore. The historian David Halberstam wrote a book called "The Best and the Brightest" about the influx of young policy wonks into government during the Kennedy Administration. I have to assume they're gone now. Purged by Nixon, or Reagan or either Bush. Or they just said "Screw this" on their own and took corporate jobs or teaching. Nobody seems to have thought things through with Iraq and fighting terror and civil rights and in case nobody has noticed, WE STILL DON'T HAVE A FRIGGIN EXIT STRATEGY FOR IRAQ! Before we invaded Europe we had an exit strategy. We were working on rebuilding as we were bombing them back to the stone age. We knew we'd have to help them rebuild from scratch so we planned for it. Hello! George! Did you all forget to do something before you sent the lads out of Kuwait? Can we say, "planning for the peace?"
Here's the exit strategy that I've got:
1.) Divide Iraq along ethnic lines. (The original borders were arbitrarily drawn by the Brits anyway.)
2.) Form a multinational corporation from those three to four new countries to control the Iraqi Oil industry. Each entity gets an equal number of seats on the board and the presidency rotates between them on an annual basis.
3.) Create a multinational police and judicial force along the same lines with a single mandate borrowed from the RCMP, "ONE LAW."
4.) Tell them point blank, "If you all can't get along like this, we will nuke you all." Park a ballistic missile sub in the gulf and have it surface once a day just to let them know we're not screwing around. Make sure the Iranians see it too.
5.) Pack up most of the boys and get the hell home. Leave enough troops behind to keep Al Qaeda busy but that's it.

Probably not the best, but it's better than what we've heard from the White House.

So back to the original thread. I think a lot of us are embarrassed to be Americans right now. We disagree with the government, we feel used when we look at the war, and we don't want to be angry about it because we don't want to disrespect the soldiers who are doing their jobs, putting their asses on the line every day.
I think that's where we are right now. We've got a national grimace on our faces.
Unfortunately, I don't know if there is an easy or cheap way to fix it. I fear that there isn't...but I hope there is.


Mary said...

Your NB about your dad reminds me of my mom. My mother refers to the president as "*that* man.* As in, "No one in *this* house voted for *that* man." Which is always followed by a disdainful sniff. It is the reaction she reserves for the impossibly arrogant.

Nick said...

Hear hear!

However, I've read diaries from southerners during the Civil War where Lincoln is referred to as "*that* man."

I also think FDR was called "*that* man" by the rich when he started all his New Deal policies.

Which brings up the potential for an interesting application of the "lens of history" (patent pending) on "*that* man" (2006 version):
The two presidents cited above were both considered impossibly arrogant by those who gave them the epithet your mom uses. Now they are regarded as two of our best presidents. However, both died in office, one as a martyr and the other as close to being a martyr as one can be by dying from a disease.
So were they really that great? Or did they just have the good fortune to buy the big one on the job? If W goes in office will he be elevated in historical stature? (This is actually one of author Sarah Vowell's nightmares.)