The Six-Year Story: Lost Opportunities, Poor Choices

The children of this country who started kindergarten this past month were not yet born when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001. And the children who were in kindergarten that awful day are now nearly teenagers. Six years may be a relatively short time in the life of a nation; it is not, however, a short time in the lives of its citizens.

Soon, a whole new generation of Americans will have known nothing but a post-9-11 world with all of its twisted sensibilities and its alarming concerns; a world bequeath to them not only by the actions of fanatical murderers in the Middle East but also by the reactions of those who represent the "Greatest Generation" and the "Baby Boomers" and the members of Generations "X" and "Y" and "Next" and all the rest.

It is a world of war and terror alerts; of "suspicious packages" and metal detectors; of higher gas prices and a continued dependency upon foreign oil. It is a world where money for American schools and health care and infrastructure renovation goes instead to prop up small businesses owners in Baghdad or, worse, to line the pockets of private contractors who've snuggled up to cynical bureaucrats.

It is a world where our government still gets away with blocking from public view the arrival of caskets at Dover Air Force base; where our military has to beg for recruits to back up our government's overextended foreign policy commitments and more and more political leaders talk about reinstituting some sort of draft. It is a world where political staffers--"rally teams" they are called-- are formally instructed by manual how to deflect, defuse and destroy war dissent at public appearances by the President.

It is a world once again obsessed with insipid celebrity "drama." Our nation's airwaves and papers are filled with news about Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and Michael Vick and Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears. We have apparently learned nothing from the summer of 2001 when our attention was riveted upon the saga of Chandra Levy. And when we aren't being bombarded with that journalistic offal, we flock to our TiVos to watch reality shows or talent contests. You can't go one night without running into one of those. But did any television networks provide gavel to gavel coverage of key hearings about terror law issues? Of course not.

It is a world where the presumed best and brightest in our government still haven't figured out the proper legal balance between providing better security against terrorism and ensuring people the protections guaranteed by the Constitution; a world where in the 2191 days since 9-11--have again as long as it took us to win World War II-- we have been unable to get our anti-terror crusade right and fair under the law thanks to political greed, partisan pettiness and a lack of common respect and decency for the rights of individuals.

It is a world in which American citizens abroad often are bombarded with angry denunciations. The colossal outpouring of support and sympathy we felt from all over the world on 9/11 and its immediate aftermath has crumbled into the dust and debris of Iraq, into a miasma of suspicion and fear and disrespect. The political leaders of the "Coalition of the Willing" still say the right things in public. But just ask the citizens of those countries what they think of the way the United States has handled itself in the post-9-11 world--we both know you'll get a much different answer.

It is a world which has seen America squander opportunities at virtually every turn. As the smoke still rose from Ground Zero we pledged to sacrifice but were told instead to "go shopping" and leave it to our leaders to guide us in the new way forward. In the name of political expediency, we were told that we could obtain retribution and revenge against our enemies without each of us having to pay a meaningful price. That price, indeed, has been paid almost exclusively by our nation's brave soldiers and military families. Our leaders did not lead as much as they pitched like the characters on Mad Men. We needed a Churchill or a Roosevelt or at least a reasonable facsimile of either and we got instead Karl Rove.

When the nations of the world stretched out their arms to us in friendship and compassion we took those hands and guided our allies into a military, political, diplomatic and religious morass in Iraq under negligent if not deliberately false pretenses. When we pledged to get Osama Bin Laden we got Saddam Hussein instead and today six years later bin Laden still mocks us from a hiding place believed to be in Pakistan, one of our so-called allies in the war on terror.

We all knew when we woke up on the morning of September 12, 2001 that the world we be a very different place. And, indeed, it is. But we owed-- and we owe-- much, much more to that new generation of Americans for whom that awful day six years ago will be an experience they glean mostly from their history books and the stories their parents tell. For them, if not for us, we just have to do better

By Andrew Cohen |  September 10, 2007; 8:43 AM ET
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An excellent commentary. It should be required reading for all of Congress, especially those members who will hear firsthand the next round of lies from the adninistration and it's toadies.

Posted by: Jerry Wickliffe | September 10, 2007 11:22 AM

I wonder how civics teachers will explain the Constitution and the federalist papers in light of how the politicians have used the excuse of 9/11 to increase federal power and size. That is the real change of 9/11. The safety argument when examined closely is farmyard manure. Maybe it is time for the rest of the country to take up the New Hampshire motto of "Live Free or Die".

Posted by: | September 10, 2007 11:24 AM

Quick aside for accuracy: a teenager is anyone between the ages of 13 and 19 (Webster's) so a child who was in kindergarten (5 or maybe six) is not a teenager today. (Or that was one old kindergartner you saw -- seven years old!)

Of course accuracy is not a concern of Andrew's here. For example the suggestion that we should be energy independent within six years of 9/11 is absurd, but that seems to be one of Andrew's laments.

Andrew complains that this is taking longer than WWII, he should consider the length of WWII from Europe's and Asia's perspective, it lasted much longer and was much worse. In terms of numbers of battles thus far, there have only been three significant battlegrounds: Afghanistan, Iraq and maybe Western Europe where Germany, England and Spain have suffered domestic attacks.

WWII saw many more battles and much higher casualties on both sides. This is more akin to the Cold War which to my calculation lasted 45 years or so -- into the early 90s.

In terms of civil rights, I will take our approach on this war to the internment of Japanese during WWII as far more humane and constrained: let us not get too nostalgic for old time solutions before we remember what they entailed.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | September 10, 2007 11:56 AM

Con-man: Oh my, your criticism of Mr. Cohen's accuracy is that someone in kindergarten in 2001 may be one year away from being a teenager (the article said "the children who were in kindergarten that awful day ARE NOW nearly teenagers), and when his only real reference to WW2 is in the sentence "in the 2191 days since long as it took us to win World War II", referring solely to the DURATION of the conflict (really, the allies in Europe after Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939, through the surrender in 1945, kept fighting the Nazis in battles?! also, the administration have consistently taken pains to call this a war, have they not!), you fault his accuracy for comparing this with WW2.

Don't know enough about the particulars of the domestic Japanese internment to say, but Good Lord, Mr. Cohen's habits regarding accuracy inspire far more confidence than yours do, that's for sure.

Andrew: Most apropos. Good job!

Posted by: Charles | September 10, 2007 12:23 PM

Actually, Cohen is more off the mark than he is on, but he does a good job of covering for himself, I'll give him that!

Posted by: | September 10, 2007 12:35 PM

I've noticed how young kids who weren't born or were very young in in 2001, are almost conditioned to buy hook, line, and sinker into massthink , even despite what their own instincts and senses tell them.

What can they protest though, they are kids, esp. with parents who bought into the behaviorist notions (and many Skinnerian claims in other areas have been refuted ) of "training". Of course often the habits to which a young adult and later, fall back to as their habits, are often what they were habituated to early. ( how many forces to artificially contrive a mass consensus are in place, esp with predetermined scripts, the ubiquity of images as a lexicon for thinking and entertainment etc..!)

Thanks for making this point, among the many other good and necessary ones.

Posted by: Matthew | September 10, 2007 12:36 PM

I disagree that the rest of aren't paying a meaningful price for the so-called war on terror. It's just that the bill is only now starting to come due (our country's aging infrastructure, for example), with many more installments due in the future. It merely *seems* as if it's been free money we've been using.

Posted by: lisatann | September 10, 2007 01:41 PM

I have a general unrelated question for Andrew. Is there a convenient way to read at some central place all the news feeds that come in every day as Andrew seems to be aware of many different papers and when they release a story, and maybe some central archiving place for easy access to past stories, or is reading the numerous individual sites the only way?

Posted by: Tom | September 10, 2007 02:11 PM

who has gained from these decisions, wonder why, then prosecute them.

Posted by: pre-amurkkkin | September 10, 2007 02:20 PM

Those of you who have strong feelings on our prosecution of the war on terror, and on Iraq, ought to call your elected representatives. 1-202-224-3121 is the Capitol switchboard number.

Call because the rightist front group "FreedomsWatch" is using TV ads (paid for by contributors including the supporters of Scooter Libby's defense fund) to dredge up callers who are funneled to the Hill, while callers who don't agree with them get hung up on. All of this is a sort of run-up to Petraeus's testimony and report of today so use it or lose it.

Perhaps you've seen the ads: Anything but unquestioning support for a continued open-ended military commitment in Iraq is "surrender" that will lead to attacks in the homeland.

Posted by: ExAUSA | September 10, 2007 02:22 PM

After rereading further, I'm not sure if Andrew means to imply that "revenge and retribution from our enemies" is the right aim to have as a response to the bombing of that date six years ago, that "each of us" has show that "to make a meaningful sacrifice" (the encouragement to enjoy creature comforts to "uphold our way of life" was certainly to my mind ignorant and boorish), or that bin Laden's message was clearly meant to mock.

That one is obligated to "get back at" bin Laden out of revenge and self-esteem because of what happened, and he claimed credit, don't agree. Put in prison those responsible yes(what did others make of his statement that Moussaoui had nothing to do with the bombing?) But resentment that someone out there is making fun of us (I'm not sure how the intention is so clearly known), and one is obligated for one's self-esteem to make sure they stop their perceived laughing, I don't know about that.

Posted by: C | September 10, 2007 02:29 PM

Even if bin Laden is the clear ringleader/mastermind, he didn't intend to attack me, who was he attacking? They made the mistake for a long time of equating the policies and actions of the administration and of past ones (which incidentally this administration does without much restraint with foreign governments it doesn't like) with assuming what the country's citizens support.

Am I supposed to "make a meaningful sacrifice" in order to retaliate each time someone gets calculatingly murdered somewhere in the US?

Not entirely far-fetched, why not have an obligation to retaliate against Nature for launching hurricanes, tornadoes in the night, seems unfairly to deviate from the script and catches one by surprise?

Posted by: Al | September 10, 2007 02:38 PM

night, (anything that) seems

Posted by: | September 10, 2007 02:39 PM

" the proper legal balance between better security against terrorism and the protections afforded people.."

Do we have some omniscient, technocratic point of view? Is it known that if one does action X one will have optimal, failsafe, impeccable "security against terrorism" that all one has to be concerned with is if it interferes with said "protections afforded by the Constitution"? Is there one action that guarantees security (and meaning real protection, that it prevents something a terrorist would do, not something they have no interest in doing), because if it isn't proven, seems to me a bit pointless to talk about some "balance", some zero sum game where one is asked to give up freedom? If one is asked/required to make a transaction, giving up something for something else, seems to me it better be a sure thing they are getting, contractually founded.

Posted by: Fred | September 10, 2007 05:04 PM

Wasn't Petraeus saying just late yesterday, "withdrawal of troops would be a "disaster", now today "given security gains it is feasible" ?

Posted by: Ft | September 10, 2007 05:48 PM

For everyone who is saying the party line now of "we were misled into Iraq, the real war was in (of all places!!) Afghanistan, were they fine with the pretext of invading Afghanistan to remove the Taliban
(not a big fan either) because they said they hadn't been given evidence of his guilt and if they were given such evidence they would hand him over ? (remember,the "you're either with us or against us" policy) What is the point of focussing on some war against primitive tribesmen (sure the present US will take great care, uh huh), who before the US had supported, first against the USSR, and even in 2001, paid about 50 million to stop opium production, which they in fact cracked down on? It is in some ways to me even more execrable than the pretexts for invading Iraq.

And if the Taliban were such an egregious anomaly of a government (they did some awful things under their desperate attempts at reinventing Islam (no am not one), but I'd say comparable or pales to some of what the US military has done under the name of "war"), why were they supported by Saudi Arabia and UAE, containing that haven of the richest expatriates to settle, Dubai?

Posted by: Norm | September 10, 2007 07:45 PM

I guess Cohen's still doing the heat instead of the light. What a surprise.

Posted by: Chris | September 10, 2007 09:46 PM

Very nicely said!

Posted by: waterbug | September 10, 2007 11:47 PM

typical garbage and reconstructionism....can you ever publish something that isn't dishonestly slanted? terrorism was a prominent feature of the policy lanscape for at least 30 years prior to 9/11. 9/11 was a watershed event only in the sense that it alerted those in self-denial (i.e., the Left and Washington Post reporters) that there was a war going on that atleast one party to which was seriously engaged.

Posted by: yawning again | September 11, 2007 08:33 AM

Ah now the quasi-academics are making commentary on 9/11 six years later. My response: it is so expected to blame the our government and our citizens for our reaction to being attacked. From the comfort of his office, Cohen's comments are completely uninspired.

One thing that does upset me is the idea that "we" squandered the "outpouring of world support." How can anything we have done subsequent to 9/11 cause the "world's support" to wane? Unless, of course, it was not sincere. Indeed, I always believed that many Europeans - master appeasers they are-- really felt we got what we deserved on 9/11. Many Europeans are interested in being a counter-weight to the US as the sole superpower and anything that brings us down a notch helps them in this endeavor.

I will never forgive Islamic terrorists for the attack on 9/11 and only their complete destruction will guarantee us security. Nothing that the historical revisionists can change the fact that America was attacked and that we ARE NOT at fault for that attack!

Bin Laden doesn't have to worry about dissent in his camp. He doesn't have the heavy weight of accepting different viewpoints. Despite Cohen's misguided opinions, in America,he can espouse his defeatist diatribe without fear of retribution.

We should not let him guilt us into believing that anyone but the Islamic terrorists, the countries that support them, the academics/journalists/ and democratic politicians (save Lieberman) that seek to weaken our will to destroy our enemy, are to blame for the current war.

He can pontificate until hog-branding time. He is irrelevant. We will win this war if we ignore him and get to fighting.

Posted by: Jim W. | September 11, 2007 10:45 AM

Who is "our enemy" Jim W? How do we "defeat" them? When will we know we have "won this war"? How many people does the U.S. need to kill, and kill, and kill? Please tell me. George Bush certainly hasn't. And I have a feeling you can't either.

P.S. Australians now hate what the U.S. is doing too.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | September 11, 2007 11:52 AM

but yawning, obviously there wasn't a "war on terror"

Posted by: | September 11, 2007 12:39 PM

First, I don't believe that Australians hate what the US is doing. If they do, they do so at their own risk, to wit: "Al-Qaeda and its allies pose a credible threat to Australian security. While al-Qaeda affiliates have repeatedly bombed Australian interests in Indonesia, the organization has consistently singled out Australia itself as a high priority target. The terror network is determined to make good on these threats, and several plots to attack Australia at home have been thwarted in their early stages. Therefore, an effective Australian counter-terrorism policy must address the threat locally, regionally and globally."

My comment clearly identified Islamic Terrorists as the enemy. Winning involves killing all of them (or so many so that they do not have the network to operate); How many people does the US have to kill? Unfortunately, many more will have to die due to terrorists who take refuge in civilian areas.

What is interesting is when the US was fighting for the freedom of Australia from Japanese aggression, Australians had no problem with US killing Japanese. Read further Bukko and learn: "The Japanese offensive in New Guinea was the most direct threat Australia faced. Fortunately, the Americans staved off a naval attack on Australia at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942." Nearly 600 American's died fighting in this battle.

Thankfully, Australia participated in Iraqi Freedom. But other than limited circumstances, when have Australians fought for the interests of the United States? In fact, when has any European Country or colony other the United States ever stepped out from its colonialist/imperialist mindset and come to the aid of another "non-white" people? Only the US has subordinated its own interests for the interests of others. Are we not still in Kosovo because the damn Europeans cannot keep from killing people based on their race (i.e. ethnic cleansing). Why didn't your beloved AUSTRALIA with its mighty air force and army send meaningful troops to stop Milosovic? Where is Australia in Africa? I am sure you love your country, don't hate me for loving mine.

I would suggest that if you wish to criticize the United States, you also criticize the terrorists who brought this war on themselves. The terrorists who thought we would bend and break when they whispered "boo." Their destiny is the destiny of those who have support failed, bankrupt ideologies.

It would be better if we had your support on fighting this war. The attack on the US was real. Real people died on 9/11/2001. We are not imagining the threat against us. Time doesn't diminish the nature of the threat. We need to work together to minimize the killing and that can only happen once the terrorists are killed. Don't fight us...let us fight them!

Posted by: Bukko | September 11, 2007 01:37 PM

I was going to write a whole long thing addressing point by point Jim C., but is the same collection of the same pernicious inanity promoted by a much too influential group that would more honestly say these things in its own region, rather than make a position that looks with its own hidden agenda using the resources, labor and production of a country far larger than it. You're false (in just about every point.

(it's strange that the above post was signed by Bukko; was that an inaadvertent mistake, pathetic otherwise)

Posted by: Dan | September 11, 2007 02:31 PM

I'm too tired to answer the obvious above idiocies 1 and 2)point by point

Posted by: | September 11, 2007 02:36 PM


Shalom, chosen people.

Posted by: Dude | September 11, 2007 02:42 PM

As far as mentioned by Cohen "a meaningful price" that " has been paid almost exclusively by our brave soldiers and military families" , bravery for what ? What have they improved regarding this nebulous specter of "terrorism" ( I'm not terrified, wasn't terrified travelling outside the US either, they must not have got through, not doing a good job)? What do these "brave soldiers" have to do with imminent terrorist, and where, somewhere in the bf mountain wastes of Afghanistan?

Bravery to risk or give one's life away foolishly don't find very worthy of commendation, sorry.

Again and again, if there's an imminent threat one usually is quite viscerally self-evidently aware of that fact, and does what is self-evidently, obviously necessary, doesn't make whole institutions, cultures devoted to a label, an empty word.

Posted by: Aaron | September 11, 2007 03:03 PM

"position that looks strange because of its hidden agenda" above

Posted by: | September 11, 2007 03:04 PM

Please note that I made the comments responding to Bukko. I don't know how it got posted as coming from him.

The comments by Dan are indecipherable. If you wish to debate, do so. Your comments to date are meaningless.

Posted by: Jim W | September 11, 2007 03:08 PM

If you're not a part of the influential group to which referred (just need to be able to read English to decipher), I apologize and not essential anyway to addressing your statements , but somehow every one of your statements at 10:45 falls into the same collection of oft-chanted nonsense and illogic.

Posted by: Dan | September 11, 2007 03:23 PM

tweaked special-"interest" nonsense and illogic that is

Posted by: Dan | September 11, 2007 03:24 PM


A characterization is not refutation. Unless you have facts which support your conclusions your statements amount to vacuous chatter.

Surely, you must have something more substantive than your comments suggest. Surely, you and those who believe as you do, have a more intelligent repetoire of arguments. That said, I can accept and understand that you do not; I mean there were those who believed that the Japanese did not attack Pearl Harbor. Similarly, there are still those who dispute that the Holocaust occured. To stop japan and germany we had to be willing to fight them ruthelessly. What do you suggest we do with Bin Laden, use harsh language?

Again, it serves no good to have a discussion when one side does not even try. Come on, give it a try. or as yoda says "do or do not" but spare us from your brainless characterizations.

Posted by: Jim W | September 11, 2007 03:33 PM

I'm tired, your thing at 10:45 amounts to the same collection of "alternate" platitudes that is full of holes, over and over.

Just briefly on this Germany's provocation made a response in Europe inescapable for the European resistance including the British, but many in the US were isolationist against another direct involvement of American soldiers for almost three years, when Germany declared war against the US . Wasn't some US cavalry riding to the rescue and saving the world out of the cockles of its heart.

How old are you that you don't know this ?(don't need to answer, using "guilt" as a verb, and referencing yoda as some wisdom dates you)

Do what one can to find proven, clearly known terrorists with the cooperation of governments who if
they saw "terror" as such an imminent, great threat would be eager to cooperate (how many countries have removed their troops, Brown, Prodi aren't blind supporters; and note the "terrorists" don't at all refrain from taking credit for attacks on allies, not just the US, so if it's really such a threat to them, they wouldn't be hesitant), not launching a blind "war" or preemptively guessing and persecuting people for their affiliations in thought.

Find someone else.

Posted by: Dan | September 11, 2007 04:00 PM

much less a "ruthless" war devoted to total destruction (wrote previous)

Posted by: | September 11, 2007 04:01 PM


Finally!!I suppose, you mustered at least a few lines in your defense of the indefensible. Unfortunately, for you, your attempts at responding are as inept as your characterizations.

First, of course there was a hesitation by the US to rush into yet another European war in the late 30's. American's remembered WWI the horrors of which did not prevent Europeans from appeasing Germany even as it openly violated the Armistice Agreement of November 1918. Some would say, the horrors of WWI contributed to the policy of appeasement. Similary, those of you who support appeasing terrorists in the hopes they won't attack have been proven sorely wrong, let's count the results: Bali, Madrid, London, Scotland, etc. Nothing changes.

"Inescapable"...what happened to "peace in our time." Come on Dan, at least know your history. The Munich Agreement was meant to end the threat of war. Of course it only enforced Hitler's belief that Western Europe was unwilling to fight. I will own America's isolationism if you will acknoweledge Europe's continuing predilection to appease.

My age is irrelevant although, if you can tell me the relevance of November 4, 1979 (without googling it) I will be more impressed with you.

As for the US and Calvary, I agree that after Germany had invaded Poland, Belgium, France, and was threatening Britain, the Europeans (specifically the Brits) kick into action. But make no mistake, Churchill was adamant that the US had to get involved in the war. So, after December 7, 1941 (a date of which I hope you know the significance) where did the US decide to focus its efforts? .....not in the far east but in Africa with the goal of FIRST freeing the white people...oops..the appeasers...oops...the Europeans. Do you think any major operation after 1942 would have been successful without the US war machine? If that is the case, I have some WMD to sell you in Iraq.

Last time I checked, it is Europe that persecutes people based upon their "thoughts or beliefs." There is a much lower threat of terrorism here in the US from those who wish to Bastardize Islam. In Europe, muslims are not as integrated as they are in the US. That is because we don't discriminate against them dejure, although of course we have those among us who cast a broad net covering all muslims. That is wrong. But as my Morrocan exchange student said this summer, "America allows women with scarfs" in their Universities. She was upset that she wanted to go to college in France but couldn't because they don't allow women there who where head covers. Believe me if the United States wished to punish all Muslims for the acts of a dedicated number of fanatics I can think of a number of targets for our conventional and nuclear weapons. The restraint shown by our government in not lashing out and making this a war against Muslims is to be commended. If these were buddist extremists or christian extremist who attacked on 9/11 I would advocate going after them as aggressively as I have against Muslim extremists. Are quarrel is not with that great religion.

That said, Muslims do have an obligation to out those who use their religion to commit acts which are clearly prohibited by Islam.

It is apparent from your diatribe that you think Brown and Prodi don't believe that terrorism is a threat. "If it really is such a threat they wouldn't be hesitant." You have to remember they are both from Europe. Prodi is from a former Axis power no less. To refer to Prodi, seance lover that he is, as a rational person is quite a strech. As I previously mentioned, appeasement and non-action is par for the course for these two. Citation to both of them is NOT persuasive. I would however doubt that either would agree with you on your basic premise that islamic terrorism isn't "such a threat." Of course it is,it has been since 1948 and will be for some time. To suggest (or state as you have) otherwise is delusional.

With all respect, the argument you should tender should be the following:

The United States should work harder at partnering with other countries and NGO's to develop the economic and social conditions which lead to the cultivation of anti-western animus among discrete populations of muslims (and others e.g. communists, socialists, etc.). Instead of fostering a war in Iraq, the US should instead attempt to make amends for its aggression by directing funds for the development of a Arab Military Force to take over security matters in Iraq and bring about political and social stabilization.

While I can disagree with some of the above, there is a lot of common ground to be had if parties will listen to each other instead of make silly characterizations and comments about age and such.

Now that I have given you the basis of a cogent, logical, and defensible position, how about you try (as my 5th grade teacher instructed) to put it in your words and maybe even expand on it.

The reference to Yoda was meant to inject a sense of humor into this discussion since that is all it is. Perhaps this is a better line " to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield". I will leave it to you to find out who said that.

Posted by: Jim W | September 11, 2007 05:18 PM

If you think you're some decrepit Ulysses with fantasies of using the world as a forum for self-serving expeditions (didn't know some antisocial Victorian with lots of problems of his own is some obvious model), I don't know what to tell you. (so the Iranian hostage crisis has some significance for your age , not surprising also given your familiarity with the gas lines, but nothing intended as far as your age, it's just indicative of a certain generation's skewed reading and justification of history)

You seem only very anxious with getting in the last word, but have said just about nothing new in this last post .

You said at 3:30 "to stop japan and germany we had to be willing to fight them ruthlessly", to which I said, a bit indirectly, that the US was isolationist for almost three years while much of Europe was engaged in war, so even though France had fallen and Britain was undergoing daily bombing the US was much less than concerned with " stopping" japan and germany, and further WW2 is no parallel for one thing because there wasn't some notion of preemptive action . This business that WW2 came about because of "appeasement" is nonsense (and used as the pretext for a, as far as I know, unprecedented attitude of preemption which was not used then).

The point isn't that the rest of the Allies could or couldn't have prevailed without the US (and the Allies had a, uh, rather significant factor on their side with or without the US)-don't know how you determine that-but that point blank the US didn't enter until virtually 1942 after the Japanese attack and German declaration of war, so the business that the US came in to save Europe is bunk (whatever Roosevelt wanted).

You go on in your first two paragraphs saying "know your history" without showing any significance that I could see, only to end up with the fact of isolationism, which is all I said (this pretext of appeasement only relevant for Britain for very few years as indicative of pan-European appeasement inevitably resulting in WW2-what 1 or 2 at the most-? did you want Germany to be invaded in 1933 before Austria was taken over in 38? - I find bewildering, but serves at least one obvious poticial agenda-- clearly because it shows deliberately ignoring the other big fact in Europe at the time)

But your statements as far as "commendable restraint" regarding a war against all Muslims , misquoting regarding Brown and Prodi ( didn't say terrorism isn't a threat, I said terrorism when they are in no privileged position of being safe from attack isn't such a threat to them that they feel the need great numbers of troops to participate in a "war on terror" ), insinuation regarding Prodi being from an Axis power (funny seems from what you say to be before your time, why would you care, whatever your parents had to do, you couldn't have been there with them to know firsthand, no offense) with one who seems to have some difficulties in reading only confirms my time is better spent elsewhere.

(the ONE AND ONLY possible argument that could be made is that it is the economic and social conditions which bring about anti-American animus, oh really
--the military meets the Peace Corps via sociological theory; just make them better off, and voila, no more anti-American animus-this is already disproven)

With all due respect, you haven't written much illuminating yet that I can see on this particular post to justify your claims, but have evidenced much pomposity and myopia, not to mention much more unpleasant suggestions.

Given the hands-on experience you claim (because so far I at least can only see the same, sorry ,"silly characterization" coming up , blindly repeated collection), and the listening you say you want, what would be more helpful is if you can give specific situations which necessitate the seemingly perverse recommendations you make.

Find other willing participants to play your game with you.

Posted by: Dan | September 11, 2007 07:32 PM

Because most Americans don't have a passport, I have to assume most of the pontificating pundits in this thread haven't a clue about the outside world because they've only seen pictures of it on a little screen, or heard stories.

Aussies and Kiwis and Mexicans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Germans and British have all said to me, "Bush is insane! What were you people thinking when you voted him in (twice)?"

The goodwill I experienced traveling in March 2002 to Germany evaporated with the beginning of the Iraq debacle. In 2002 we few Americans in the audience at a conference were given a standing ovation. It was an emotional outpouring of solidarity from the citizens of many countries.

That doesn't happen now, I can assure you.

Get your butts off the couch, go out and find out for yourselves -- don't just take the news reports' word for what is happening in the world!

Posted by: nb | September 11, 2007 09:37 PM

Could answer your thing about the Munich Agreement which had overlooked, as far as the claims about appeasement, but no point anyway.

Posted by: | September 12, 2007 11:28 AM

Let's just say that 70% of the Iraqis, those people US involvement is patronizingly supposed to be for, want the US troops out by the end of this year (2007), and, get this, 60% of all Iraqis are to the point of supporting ATTACKS ON THE US TROOPS THEMSELVES. With the constantly stated claim that any and all US involvement is for Iraqi benefit (it IS for them, isn't it?), their wishes kind of would seem the "prime directive" (no, no you're not ready yet, we'll decide when you're ready to live your life, our military will decide for you).So given this, they should be eager to help getting things together so that they can run it themselves as soon as possible.

Posted by: L | September 12, 2007 02:03 PM

Bin Laden's hope that many here will consider converting to Islam is extremely far-fetched and of course not going to happen , but there are many here who share, at least somewhere in them, pretty basic values of decency which hold irrespective of doctrine which any reasonable honest person anywhere, including Muslims, would/should share (such as, for instance, the simple but far-reaching consequences of being honest and considerate; what reasonable person ,whatever their circumstantial doctrine, could object?!)

Of course, he's still someone, though, who claimed responsibility for needlessly causing the deaths of thousands here, and is even viewed to this day as still mocking Americans for the pain he caused, so what kind of reaction does he expect, and on the basis of this perception huge world events are decided, and many are trying to push for setting their sites to destroy him and/or the Taliban now (what kind of future to look forward to is the fatalistic one he has previously mentioned of suicide for Allah, not to mention that everyday risk in daily life and nature should be more than ample danger, just for instance today's earthquake in Indonesia? It certainly gives up on any future left on this earth. Doesn't seem at all a good idea to me.)

Posted by: George B | September 12, 2007 08:47 PM

Of course, anyone who claims to be at all informed should at least READ the Koran before assuming anything.

Posted by: | September 13, 2007 10:48 AM

Best job of distilling our "post 9/11 World" into one article I've ever seen.
We squandered all the good will toward us as we have squandered the lives of the dead and the wealth of our nation.

Posted by: NeoCONS 'R' SCUM | September 13, 2007 12:20 PM

Silence! Get that Cohen! Silence that Cohen! USA! USA! USA!

Posted by: Singing Senator | September 13, 2007 01:29 PM

Which historian will be the first to title their history of the Bush Administration, "Lost Opportunities! : Poor Choices" ?

"Pigheaded Choices" would be an apt subtitle, but would never be accepted by a publisher.

Posted by: DC | September 14, 2007 11:50 AM

re L, of course recent talk of training Iraqis as if its a bold new approach to try isn't exactly encouraging of good faith.

Posted by: John | September 14, 2007 03:05 PM

This whole string of posts is absurd as much of the discussion in the media today. It is pathetic of Americans to be obsessed with a couple thousand people six years ago. Get over it. If you want to help America, help the children growing up without decent food to eat, help the people who being abused by a government that is a law in itself.
The only they to fear is fear itself. The so-called patriots of today thrive on fear mongering as if we fear everyone and are willing to bomb them we are a great country. Again all this behavior is absurd,

Posted by: Don | September 16, 2007 07:39 AM

The one re-accuring theme on this and all similar liberal Democratic Party ones that I've read is that it was the USA and President Bush that "invaded" Iraq, which resulted in this war on terror that we're in. Wrong! This war started nearly 30 years ago when the Islamic terrorists started their Jihad- Holy War- against all of the Western Countries because we don't believe in their goofy and sick religion. They have attacked us hijacking dozens of civilian airliners and murdering thousands; they have bombed Berlin nightclubs used by our servicemen; hijacked and murdered the Achile Laure cruise ship murdering American Leon Klinghoffer; kidnapped and murdered American oil workers and anyone that they thought was an American agent and bombed and murdered 19 of our Air Force personal and wounded 385 when they bombed the Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. They murdered hundreds of Americans when they bombed our two Embassies in Africa; bombed the World Trade Center in 1993; bombed our US Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 US Marines and another in East Beirut that killed 23 Americans; kidnapped and murdered the Israeli Olympic Wrestling team in Munich; bombed and murdered hundreds of Australians in a Bali Hotel; bombed and blew up the Pan Am Boing 747 civilian airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland; kidnapped tortured and hanged Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon; bombed hundreds of Israeli pizza parlors, shopping centers, Malls etc killing hundreds of civilians; loaded up a dingy with explosives in a Yemeni port and ramed it into our ship the USS Cole killing 17 US sailors, and hijacked and flew civilian airliners into both World Trade Centers and our Pentagon. All these terrorist attacks over a 30 year span is why we fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and everywhere else where we can hit these brutal and viceous barbarian animals. Almost every one of these occured long before President Bush became president in 2000 and each terrorist attack was done against us with no provocation by us exept for the fact that we don't believe in Islam.
What is disgusting is that Americas liberal Democrats can't see the forrest for the trees and are trying to blame President Bush for all the terrorist problems we've seen to date. They're interest is purely political to bring down the Bush administration and what's in our countries interests doesn't matter. It would be nice to see American liberal Democrats and the Euroweenies like the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch etc to put the blame for all these acts of terrorism we've had where it belongs--on the Al Qaeda gang, the bin Laden gang, and their various other groups like Hezbolla, the Palestine Liberation Front and many other front-groups using all kinds of different names. Just for once I'd like to see some liberal Democrats put their countries interests above their quest for political powrer. Just for once I'd like to see liberal Democrats put the blame for all this terrorism going on were it belongs. Just for once I'd like to see liberal Democrats defend and support our country, instead of always blaming the USA first for everything gone wrong in the world.

Posted by: madhatter | September 17, 2007 02:28 AM

Thanks for your facts and the history, madhatter, really, but do we know that the reason for those , and you claim the same now, that a bunch of nuts want to " convert" the rest of the world by violence (by the way, again, jihad originally refers to the basic personal struggle with what are seen as personal flaws, although some of these young nuts or Muslim ideologues do use it in the sense of violent overthrow) those who don't follow their religion. That is extremely weird to Islam as I understand it (although some strains have an tendency to like order for its own sake, very congenial and beloved to anal "conservatives" here), although am not one, and the entire ethos of having lived in various Islamic countries.

Or is the history of violence you commendably mentioned some sort of protest at least in big part (not to at all condone the methods) at Israel and its massive influence, whether past actions, world perceptions of, or even the mere existence of, that is, like it or not, at least a possible position separated from the methods used.

You say you would like candidates just for once putting their countries interests over political power. How is political power so assured by "supporting" terrorists? That seems very peculiar. What's so difficult about being selfish about one's "interests", that seems quite easy actually? Wouldn't it be convenient just to assume all those terrorists are the same, and we know their reasons without having to ask?

Posted by: Jim | September 17, 2007 12:44 PM

Demonizing as "vicious and barbaric animals" makes it a foregone conclusion-it is a basic tactic to remove any compunction about doing anything one wants to someone or something, abusive people do it on a domestic level, even everyday people often do it in some way- it's useless and it's basically the same as talking to a wall, if one is going to assume some opponent is as you describe. The thing is to know what position any group says it has and what they want, and what they are willing to do to get it.

If you're just going to cite the ugly end results of terrorist acts, the retaliations by the "good guys" are often just as, if not more, nasty; seems horrible methods at some level are claimed everywhere, many even now bizarrely make the willingness to engage in them the sine qua non of "respectable " social living and self esteem ( those who make owning a gun some moral issue, rather than just a necessity for self-protection, if one accepts that, just one little example)- their attitude shows their real mixed --upness; if there is an obvious menace, one just does what is obviously necessary for self-protection and there's an end on't, one doesn't contort it into some self-esteem good)

Posted by: Jim | September 17, 2007 01:02 PM

You can split hairs all you want, Jim 12:44 PM, about the word 'Jihad' or if the terrorists are only fighting Israel, but it all boils down to the same thing, we have been at war with these terrorists for nearly 30 years. It's not because of President Bush; it's not because we took out Saddam Hussain; it's not because we took out the brutal Taliban in Afghanistan; it's not anything that WE did to them or any other liberal Democrat Party--talking points, it's been the Islamic terrorists like bin Laden WHO HAVE ATTACKED US WITHOUT ANY PROVOCATION FOR 30 YEARS!!! The one and only reason these liberal Democratic Party-talking points excuses for the start of the Iraq War are now consitered mainstream is because the Main Stream Media--who are practically all liberal Democrats including Andrew Cohen right here--are working in the political interests of their party, and not in the interests of our country. Both the Democratic Party and their shills in the MSM are working overtime to elect Democrats, and that's why the truth that we've been at war for 30 years has been censored by them.

Posted by: madhatter | September 17, 2007 01:10 PM

What you say madhatter is all fine that this has been going on for a while, but automated retaliation for an initial wrong act is no good and just becomes "might is right". The REASON for what is done may have some validity, is the motivation for misguided methods, and as far as I'm concerned is the REAL ISSUE that should be addressed. The notion that violent provocation is most terrorists' idea of "converting others to Islam" I find very weird, for all sorts of empirical reasons. Violence is only the means, to just react to it just pointlessly continues the cycle, and proves little. Again the "terrorists" may not be the same. How do you know that some Basques didn't mix in there? Seems just blindly assuming that we know all about those people automatically is lame and self-fulfilling.

But what are you saying, uncalled for US actions were freeebies then?

Posted by: Jim | September 17, 2007 01:27 PM

Jim wrote:
"...automated retaliation for an initial wrong act is no good and it's just becomes might is right"

Name the "wrong act" that WE DID to them 30 years ago when these terrorist acts first started. I can't think of one.

The Shah of Iran? Internal Iranian problem.

Helping the Afghanis defeat the USSR occupiers? Purely political expedientcy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Oil? They've become millionaires because of it instead of living miserable lives of starvation in tents. Oil and us helping to develope it made them all rich.

Religion? Bingo!!! They're still fighting the crusades. And that's why they started all these terrorist acts 30 years ago against us, and why they're still using terrorism against all of the Western countries. Believe it!!!

Posted by: madhatter | September 17, 2007 04:30 PM

I thought my statemnet was obvious. Maybe as you say the "wrong act" was theirs if the facts you cite are true, that's the only sense I could mean. So what who did it first? Automated retaliation still leads to a cycle, only decided by who wins.

But again your repeated thing that religious conversion of anyone is the motive for any and all, or most terrorist Muslim groups makes little sense to me, if Islam is what it's for. I'm very skeptical of that , as that is pretty antithetical to most of the statements and existing culture of Islam which I am familiar with firsthand, and is a lunatic idiotic strategy on just empirical grounds alone.

Posted by: Jim | September 17, 2007 06:14 PM

Jim W:

The US did focus its efforts on Germany first, but only *after* it declared war on Germany. Dan is correct. The US did not declare war on Germany until after Germany declared war on the US (12 DEC 41). Throughout the war, FDR had trouble keeping the US focused on Germany's thereat since most in the US wanted vengeance against the Japanese. On 8 DEC 41, FDR asked for (and got) a declaration of war against Japan and Japan alone.

"Do you think any major operation after 1942 would have been successful without the US war machine?" Given that the operations at Stalingrad and Kursk, the offensive in Poland, and the assault on Berlin did so without the involvement of the US war machine, why, yes, yes, I do. Heck, Operation Bagraton was successful in driving the Germans back from the gates of Moscow in the Winter of '41-'42 -- at apoint in time when the US was still scrambling to *build* said war machine. Remember, it was the Russians who defeated Germany -- we sat on the sidelines for the most part. The bulk of the German army fought in the East and the bulk of Germany's casualties occurred there.

And bringing in the occupation of the US Embassy in Iran is somewhat specious in this discussion -- Al Qaeda is as opposed to Shia fundamentalists as it is to the US.

Posted by: Historian | September 18, 2007 09:33 AM

You're wrong by ommission.
* Technically it was us that fired the first shot, when one of our destroyers- captained and crewed by American sailors and flying the US flag--depthcharged a German U-boat in the Atlantic after it had torpedoed a British Merchant ship before Hitler declared war on us.
* We were in this war long before Hitler declared war on us with FDR's Lend-Lease Act and the unlimited supply of munitions and war material we were sending to the British and to the USSR.

Posted by: mojoe | September 18, 2007 02:17 PM

Oh that's lame mojoe, supporting with ai isn't at all comparable to "being in the war" and killing people.

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