With such a lofty title I fear the text below will not fulfill the promise. The thoughts expressed in the comments will hopefully help us elevate this diary to that level.
Below the fold is a comment I wrote that has me thinking that it is a timely topic for Moosetemplation this week. Let my words here be more of a first volley in a longer exhortation or exhibition, then, of the complex views and moods we have about our place in the world these last ten years.
As incomplete as it may be, I stand by the shape of the comment below as a starting point for my part in this discourse. The past ten years have seen the blunt violence of America as well as its opposite. The Yin and Yang of America has been played out for all to see. All in all, it seems to me, a more honest demonstration of who we are would be hard to imagine than the range of behavior we have engaged in since we were jarred out of complacency over five hundred Tuesdays ago.
But there is enough from me below about that. What do you think, Mooses, as you look forward ten days and backward ten years?
Watching the Nat Geo 9/11 documentaries, including the Bush interview,I think I understand the chain of consequences more clearly. Really, it is what I have thought all along, so perhaps I am deluding myself. However.
Bush had the right kind of idea: “Folks don’t really want to live like that, and if they didn’t we wouldn’t have these kinds of problems.” I have never believed there was a Grand Evil Scheme – certainly not on his part – but that the chaos was the rock-falling-downhill inevitability of the situation.
His failure as leader was that he didn’t have the intelligence to understand the more subtle means. But anyone who expected him to was even more deluded. Bush is a simple kinda guy and he took the simple and obvious kinda approach. The complexities of dealing with that approach have led to all of the angst and (frankly) horror that goes with such endeavors.
Not to shine the lilly – the consequences of his decisions are what we see them to be – but even in that context there is a certain aspect of it all that is perhaps not for the worst.
The Clue #1 response to a traumatic attack against The Giant In The Room is a spastic and violent reaction that all near the creature will relive (who first live to tell) in hushed tones forever. Every fool knows this, and we all treat such Giants with due circumspection as a normal part of daily life. When you are part of a group naturally antagonistic to such Giants it behooves you to enforce an appropriate amount of control over your most fervent fellows, lest said Giant resolve your grievances by wiping out you and everything within ten miles of your location.
One of Al-Qaeda’s senior folks is quoted as saying, shortly after 9/11, that for one single act they had “lost in months what it had taken seven years to build” in Afghanistan. The subsequent success of the group – and its affiliated goals – since is perhaps a Lesson Learned for the shells of decreasingly radical individuals surrounding the Fervent.
Lesson Learned: “Don’t do that.”
The long sweep of history is showing the other side of the American Hand with Obama. The Kinder, Gentler America that is interested in your concerns and will work with you to overcome obstacles. Where the exact same goal as Bush unclearly enunciated regarding Iraq is pursued with informed nuance and respect, and where Seal Team Six will still show up and blow your damn head off if you just can’t be reasoned with.
I would have liked to see the latter side shown earlier during the Post 9/11 years, but in reality that wasn’t going to happen. Not with the President in office and not – after watching enough 9/11 memorials to remind me how I felt – with the mood of The Giant in those days.
When I watch the flash of my friend’s plane disappear into the Pentagon or hear the ballistic thump outside the Trade Center doors during their last minutes, I take great comfort in the slow-motion mental image of a bullet penetrating Bin Laden’s eye. I am that vengeful and violent – we are – and it is only fair that others know this. Samuel L Jackson’s Pulp Fiction character speaks for the unrestricted violence we keep on on tap, carefully and knowingly laid near at hand and only restrained by a contemplative consciousness.
When I watch the people of Libya free themselves from shackles only Shelley could have fantasized it is that contemplative consciousness of America that is most evident. I/we do in fact wish those people well, and this time our approach shows the more measured and thoughtful side of our character. However, those who would choose to call our bluff and bluster us into submission need to know that this thoughtfulness does not separate us from our ethos, or the Dogs of War we will unleash to defend it.
The Gaddafi’s and Jung-Il’s and (fish-feeding ;~) Bin-Laden’s of the world should fear us. They are mad dogs and we will destroy them without hesitation. Those around such mad dogs should have every reason to fear the consequences of such associations as well. Any sane person would.
The space for rational and civilized discourse only exists with rules, and rules always come with consequences. Both the value of that space and the reality of those consequences must be clear. The sum of the world’s experiences with the two post-9/11 President’s provides all the evidence of how America views both of those that anyone should need.