Six Years Out, and Could It Be Worse?

I hardly need to say this, but six years ago today we were all riveted to our TV’s not believing what we were seeing. Our president, elected in what can only be called a disputed election, was just back from a month long vacation in his 8th month in office. Many of us worried that he would not be up for the job, healing and leading a country that had entered a whole new world. Even the most cynical among us could not guess how badly this new president would manage. A few thoughts on this:

  • Despite offers of support from Iran after 9/11 (see the CNN report from September 14, 2001) President Bush grouped them with North Korea and Iraq in the axis of evil. Interestingly, Afghanistan (who was hiding Osama Bin Laden) was not included in the axis.
  • It didn’t take long after the attacks to realized that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind behind the attacks. In a briefing at the Pentagon on September 17, 2001 President Bush declared we will get bin Laden “dead or alive.” He’s still alive and apparently coloring his hair.
  • The terrorists who planned 9/11 were given refuge in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We consider both of these countries allies even though it’s become clear that they are unable or unwilling to hand them over.
  • President Bush has repeatedly claimed that the terrorists hate us because “we love freedom.” But since 9/11 we have held people in Guantanamo Bay without charging them or allowing them access to counsel. Even though the President insists that we are at war, he refuses to give them the status (and protections) of criminal suspects or POW’s. Instead the administration has invented a term, “enemy combatants,” that allows them no rights or protections. Additionally, Jose Padilla, an American citizen, was arrested on American soil and held without his Constitutional protections for 3 1/2 years. We were told that he was being held because he was trying to set off a “dirty bomb” but that was nowhere in the indictment. He was tried and convicted on a charge of attending a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. Perhaps this carelessness with our Constitutional freedoms will, in the end, “let the terrorists win.”
  • Even though it was clear that neither Sadam Huessin or Iraq had anything to do with the attacks of 9/11 we have been at war with them for 4 1/2 years. Even though President Bush had a clear exit strategy for Vietnam, he has none for this war.
  • Last winter with the newly seated Democratic majority in Congress it became clear that there was diminishing support for continuing the war. President Bush ordered a surge, or increase in the troop levels with the promise that they would show clear and obvious results. Out of this a series of 18 benchmarks were developed to evaluate this success. You can see from my post of July 13th that by then President Bush said 8 of the 18 benchmarks had been achieved. On September 7th the GAO announced that only three have been met, 4 have been partially met, and 11 have not been met. As I write this it’s hard to find anything that gives us reason to believe we can ever achieve our objectives in Iraq.

Simply put, six years ago the world rallied around us in our grief, shock, and determination to ensure this will never happen again. Today it’s hard to imagine a scenario that could have gone worse. We have alienated our allies, embolden our enemies, trashed our freedoms, and made the world more unsafe. President Bush, it’s time to admit that few of your policies are sound and start listening to those who elected you.

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