Our armed forces dealt a stunning blow to the Taliban. Check. But after 15 years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan the Taliban remain strong. Our armed forces hunted down and captured or killed Bin Laden. Check.
Unfortunately, some of us were taken with vengeance, power lust, and arrogance and thus used the war fever to declare global war not on a nation, but an idea… a fearful emotion… terror. Those people used this idea to justify the abrogation of many liberties we Americans hold dear. The rights to a fair and speedy trial, habeas corpus, privacy, and most importantly, the assumption of innocence until guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt have been severely eroded. As, Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Concepts enshrined in international law such as the prohibition against pre-emptive attacks, gone, against effecting regime-change in other nations, gone.
And, consider the fact that we could bear to send our sons and daughters into wars, but we couldn’t bear to pay for the wars, choosing instead to indebt ourselves and our children… the very souls who sweated, bled, and cried on those far-flung battlefields… we indebted them to pay for these wars. We were too busy getting rich maniacally flipping houses, adding to the debt we were rapidly building-up in the war efforts. Thomas Jefferson said, “the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.”
In 2004, Bin Laden said, “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.” The saddest truth is that perhaps Bin laden knew us better than we knew ourselves.
In 2008, all of that presumption upon the future fell in on itself, making it all the more difficult to finance the enormous debts incurred. Where are we in 2017? We are in the midst of the longest economic expansion since World War II. The longest? Maybe. Only if you believe the statistics in the altered state they have held since the 1990s (see chart for statistics based on pree-1990s methodology). Only if you ignore the millions who never reentered the workforce – the workforce participation rate remains at historic lows. Only if you ignore the fact that our national debt more than doubled in an attempt to buy this “expansion”.
May God eternally bless those killed and maimed in the attacks. May God bless and heal all the others who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to answer the call of duty, here and abroad. Give them peace and strength to overcome the scars they bear.
May the rest of us search our souls, straighten-up, bite the bullet, and rebuild this nation such that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”