Are We Winning The Real War On Terror?

The setting was spectacular. Framed by the Statue of Liberty, surrounded by representatives of the many faiths, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York gave a magnificent speech. The billionaire Republican mayor of the Big Apple spoke in a way that was inspirational, about a topic that is intolerable. We stand here in 21st Century America, the land of the free, and debate the right of private citizens to build a house of worship on private property. Our reason for this betrayal of our foundational beliefs is our fear of, and prejudice towards, the religion of Islam.

This is our betrayal; if the citizens of the United States would only stand in defense of the rights of the many, those few in Manhattan whose rights stand threatened would certainly prevail. In the case of the so-called ground zero mosque, the fears and prejudices of 9/11 have been revisited against our nation, by our nation. This is the ultimate self-inflicted wound, and it is far from the first instance of such a wound in the 9 years since the attack. The physical facts of this case are issues beyond the point. It matters not that this proposed facility lies blocks from the site of ground zero. It matters not that the site will be obscured from all but the highest floors of the buildings that will take the place of the World Trade Center towers.

The central point of the last 9 years, and the most important battle raging in the Global War on Terror, is being fought on our soil, by our friends and neighbors. Al-Qaeda can’t hope to take the United States by force. There is no reasonable path to any kind of victory by Muslim fanaticism in the United States. Cultural factors preclude widespread acceptance of the Muslim faith in the United States (lets face it, Christian pastors have enough problems convincing their flocks to attend on days other than Christmas and Easter). The power-hungry and misguided fools who run organizations like Al-Qaeda are interested in three outcomes only; the exercise of control over our foreign policy through propaganda and force, the creation of strife and cultural upheaval within the U.S., and the forcible removal of United States support for the nation of Israel.

It is instructive to note that the organizations which we strive against have already failed on the last point. Americans root, almost instinctively, for the little guy and don’t like being told what to do. Israel is the defining “little guy” in the world today, and America has committed to supporting the Jewish state. There is no chance we are backing away from that situation. The second point of order for Bin Laden and his idiot imitators, is the manipulation of our foreign policy. In this they have had spectacular success. This success was gift wrapped and sent special delivery to Bin Laden by the inept, short-sighted, and foolhardy actions of the Cheney/Bush Administration. The invasion of Iraq to secure weapons of mass destruction that weapons inspectors on the ground told us weren’t there, was all the return on investment Bin Laden needed from 9/11.

Just contemplate for a moment the immensity of the fund-raising and recruiting gold mine that the Iraq War has been for Al-Qaeda. There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until after we destroyed Saddam’s security force (the notion of an ego-maniacal dictator allowing a fractious group of religious warriors for God to have safe haven and major weapons is one of the all-time dumbest notions ever sold to the American people.) The invasion of that nation turned the daily double, forcing the world’s support and sympathy for us after 9/11 away, while building support and sympathy for the perpetrators of the crime. So how did we go down such a foolish road? What blinded us to the simple realities staring us in the face? Fear. Our fear of another attack caused us to forget our basic principles.

Fear was also at work on domestic policy, and it has become the central front in the strife and upheaval that Bin Laden hoped to sow. We allowed the passage of the worst-named legislation in U.S. history: the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act destroyed large segments of the constitutional protections that we have enjoyed. We consoled ourselves in the notion that these acts only hurt if the subject was a terrorist; our fear blinding us to the reality that warrants, lawyers, public trials, and search restrictions force whoever “the law” is to first give evidence that one is a terrorist. We rallied behind carefully chosen statements by our Founding Fathers, and ignored the inspirational words of three:

“We must all hang together are we will assuredly hang separately”-Ben Franklin

“Give me liberty or give me death!”-Patrick Henry

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”-Thomas Paine

The patriots Paine referred to were not limited to the men on the battlefield. In our great national fear, we have been only to willing to let our soldiers bear all of the burdens required, in this crisis, in the service of our country. We have proudly stood behind our troops in support, but how many of us have been willing to stand in front? How many of us have, rather than accepting the risks that come with freedom and liberty, ordained instead that we should shrink from our gifts and our responsibilities?

As some of our troops come home, others remain to fight and die in Afghanistan. They do so in the service of liberty and their fellow man. When they return home, will they find that they have fought for a country that no longer values liberty? Our nation has spent many months now fighting battles over policy in the name of freedom. We have fought those battles, and we have let the real questions of our time and our principles shrink to insignificance. We are not, after all, the home of the secure. For us to truly be the land of the free, we need to remain the home of the brave. We need to cling dearly to our principles and our freedoms. We do this by fighting for the least of us. We do this in the name of all who have died in the defense of this grand experiment called the United States of America.

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