This Week's Attitude
Monday marks the fifth anniversary of one of the most tragic days in American history, but to hear President Bush refer to it, it's like World War II déj vu, as if September 11, 2001 can be equated with Pearl Harbor. While they were both unprovoked, surprise attacks, that's where the comparisons end.
On the other hand, that sort of posturing underscores the fact that almost every foreign policy decision - not to mention several domestic ones - this president has made since the terrorist attacks has been a miserable failure that may have strengthened the determination of a zealous, relentless enemy. It's as if everything Bush does is a shallow attempt at a public display of bravado, epitomized by his "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier jet landing three years ago.
Clearly, albeit sadly, his insular view of the war on terror remains unchanged since September 11, 2001. Yet, he has all but surrendered to finding and/or capturing Osama bin Laden and his followers who orchestrated that catastrophic day, which was the focus of his post-9/11 "assurance and retaliation" speech to the nation and the world. In lieu of that crusade, he embarked on a mission that will certainly not be accomplished under his guidance.
In a pre-election public relations offensive offensive to bolster Republican candidates in the November elections and maintain the majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, the president recently spoke to audience-friendly American Legionnaires, a group that would unconditionally defend Bush unless he committed an overt act of treason.
Bush said, "If America were to pull out before Iraq could defend itself, the consequences would be predictable and disastrous..." He's talking as if our current strategy is working and enhancing our international status. He also implied that our withdrawal would give terrorists a base of operation to recruit and train new members, but Muslim radicalism seems to have found other ways and means to survive and multiply even as they develop new methods to torment the West.
If shrewd British officials hadn't been persistent in their pursuit to uncover the recent plot to down several U.S. bound flights, Muslim terrorists would have struck another devastating blow despite five years of our theoretical efforts to defeat them.
Bush obviously felt he was making profound comments by comparing our current struggle with terrorists to our battles over Nazism and Com-munism in the last century. But, when he said, "The security of the civilized world depends on victory in Iraq," you just had to shake your head and wonder if he's seeing the war through rose-colored glasses since only a handful of nations continue to support our effort there. He fails to grasp that few world leaders see the war in Iraq as the critical battle for defeating global terrorism. Furthermore, the drawn out struggles to defeat Nazism and Communism were achieved using conventional combat tactics that can't succeed in dealing with the innovative challenges of radical Islam. And not comprehending that fact is at the heart of the Bush Administration's botched war on terrorism.
It is quite obvious that the president's malicious attack on Iraq has only strengthened the fanatics' hatred of America and its allies. Not that those extremists needed an excuse to embark on their style of warfare. For that, among other reasons, whether we withdraw next month, next year or whenever, there's little that will stem the tide of Muslim terrorism. And the surge of resolve that New Yorkers and Americans fervently displayed in the weeks and months after the attacks five years ago has gradually - and regrettably - shifted to the Muslim maniacs.
From the time Americans rallied around the flag in the wake of 9/11 until today, George Bush has failed to effectively take the mandate granted him and lead us in a practical direction. In the aftermath of the worst attacks ever on U.S. soil, instead of seizing the opportunity and symbolically rising from the ashes, his administration's numerous missteps and blunders have us bogged down in a costly conflict - in terms of lives and money - that thus far have only reinforced what skeptics sensed all along - he lacks the ability needed to lead a nation in time of crisis.
While he can't directly be faulted for citizens feeling less secure today than they were five years ago, he certainly has done little to consolidate our confidence in his policies that have done little, if anything, but stall the nation's potential.
Monday, which officially is referred to as Patriot's Day - a misnomer if ever there was one - is primarily a day of remembrance to honor those who unwillingly gave their lives and for those who willingly made a sacrifice. But it is also time to remember that the mission guaranteed by George Bush after that catastrophic day is far from accomplished.