It's been nearly ten years since the September 11 attacks on the twin towers and the ramifications can still be felt reverberating through the nation like it was yesterday. Let's stop for a minute and reflect on how 20 men with nothing but box cutters and an arline ticket manged to bring the most powerful nation in the world to it's knees, cripple it's economy and start 2 wars that have claimed thousands of lives...with no end in sight. Let's talk about whether we are 'safer' today than we were on September 11, 2001 and whether we are in a better place. Let's tear down the party lines and start a discussion as one American to another on what we've learned, how we've grown and how we 'have' and 'have not' made the world a safer place for our children. Let's analyze our mistakes so we do not repeat them and let's be honest with each other as we go forward.
As a nation we sit precariously at the brink of disaster and we may already be past the point of no return, yet still we barrel forward as if we are self destructing like a komikaze pilot. Let's quit placing blame, making threats and having knee jerk reactions to isolated incidents. Let's talk about how 9-11 relates to the immigration question, the banking crisis, the economy and the war. Let's talk about how vulnerable we are at this very moment and let's discuss how we can alter our direction to return this country to it's former glory, regain global respect and once again prosper in a world free of fear and hate. 9/11 was a tragedy of immense proportion, but the way we reacted to it 'magnified' it and made it a thousand times worse. We stepped into it hook, line and sinker. We let it grab us by the balls and bring us to our knees. If you can't see how that one day and those 20 men with nothing but an airline ticket and a box cutter caused us to jump into a never ending 'war on terror', let it cripple our economy and ignite a banking crisis like we haven't seen since the great depression, then you better wake up and smell the roses.
A war on terror cannot be 'won'. We can 'fight' terrorism but there will always be bad people in the world who want to do us harm. We simply do not have the resources to 'kill' them all. We must outsmart them. We can start by eliminating the rhetoric. There are those who want to make the 'war on terror' a religious war...Christians vs. Muslims. That is a very dangerous game indeed. Why do so many religious zealots believe theirs is the only 'true' religion? You have to be pretty narrow minded not to realize there are good people in all faiths. Even among Christians there is disagreement. Babtists think they are the one true religion, Catholics believe they have the market on true religion, Jehovah's Witnesses believe all others will perish, Jews believe they are the chosen ones, Mormons believe 'their' God is the one supreme being. How petty and narrow minded. When it comes to Christians vs. Muslims I hate to be the one to tell you...we're outnumbered. Can't we start by admitting there are good and decent people in 'all' religions and no one has the market on God's love. Then maybe we can recognize that there are 'extremists' in all religions as well. It's these 'extremists' that pose the greatest danger. Whether they are homegrown like the idiot in Florida who wanted to burn the Koran or they come from distant lands with a bomb strapped on their back...it makes no difference. One is as dangerous as the other. Maybe it is religious extremism we should be fighting.
So how did we get here...and where are we going? It didn't help that we had a President with a 'string 'em up' mentality, bent on making somebody, anybody, pay for the destruction and loss of life on Sept 11, 2001. I'm pretty sure the general consensus is that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks on 9-11, but we weren't going to settle for anything less than showing the world images of him swinging from the gallos. Let's admit that Iraq had 'nothing' to do with 9/11 and they were 'not' harboring weapons of mass destruction. That being said...we must then deduce that invading Iraq was a 'mistake'. There...I said it. We must be big enough to admit our mistakes and learn from them. It was nothing less than a mistake for America to invade Iraq under the guise of the 9/11 tragedy. But then maybe we had alterior motives. Maybe we were attracted to their oil rich reserves. Maybe 'spreading democracy' in the middle east has more to do with putting 'us' into a better position to 'tap' those reserves than it does with 'freeing' the Iraqi people. Why after all did we build a multi-billion dollar embassy there? Let's just say that oil 'may' have 'something' to do with it. Maybe George Bush's personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein may have also had a little bit to do with it. Hussein after all did try to assassinate his father. I'm pretty sure he got immense satisfaction from seeing him swing. I submit that the Bush administration 'used' the tragedy of 9/11 as political justification to invade Iraq for reasons other than to bring the perpetrators to justice. At the very least I submit that in pursuit of the perpetrators...we got 'sidetracked'.
The cost of this war has been tremendous in both money and loss of life. I think it could be argued that it has also come as a colossal loss to our national security in terms of weakening our armed forces and streching them so thin as to be ineffective, leaving us open to future terrorist attacks. In terms of defense resources...helicopters, ammunition, vehicles, airplanes, guns, tanks, soldiers killed or wounded ...the cost has been immense indeed, in terms of tax payer dollars, billions upon billions have been wasted. Now let's think for a moment about the cost to 'rebuild' Iraq and 'compensate' the Iraqi people....billions and billions more I would presume. Let's add up how many terrorists we have 'killed' and match that number against the number of 'new' terrorists we have 'created'. I have a feeling there may be a nation of orphans that hold a grudge against us regardless of how 'noble' our intentions. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing we simply chased most of the terrorists out of Iraq and into neighboring Pakistan and Iran where they can enjoy the safety of their brethren. I wouldn't be surprised to see them return in direct correlation to our departure. So what have we really accomplished there after 9 years of battle? Can someone please explain to me? It seems kind of murky. Was it a success ? Did we win the war? Now we have moved over to Afganistan to hunt down the Taliban. Was it the Taliban who were responsible for 9-11...? Or are we just going after 'all' the bad people?...all the 'insurgents' who harbor ill feelings to America. Are we going invade Iran next...or Syria?...march across the Middle East spreading our democracy? If we can't rid ourselves of our own inner city street gangs...what makes us think we can rid the Middle East of theirs??? Does the Afgan government really want us there in the first place? It kind of doesn't seem like it to me. But I'm not there. Maybe they have welcomed our soldiers with open arms and greeted them like heros...freedom fighters...and I'm just not aware of it. When 'will' they be able to 'defend' themselves? Do they even have the motivation to become a democracy? What will be the cost down the road to rebuild Afganistan and compensate their people? Billions of dollars I presume. Is there oil in Afganistan that I am unaware of? These are questions I think need to be answered.
This all brings us to the issue of our national security. Are we safer today than we were on 9-11? Have these two nine year wars been a success in keeping us secure from a future attack? Have we annilated them? Again I ask...is it even possible to 'win' a war on terror? I think not. The sad fact is there are terrorists in many many countries with ties to Al Queda, the Taliban, and hundreds of other little groups we've never even heard of and we haven't exactly been winning them over with our rhetoric. There are those who would argue that we are much safer today than we were on 9/11. We haven't after all had a major attack since then. I submit to you that the people who planned 9-11 are sitting somewhere in a cave in smug satisfaction, enjoying the success of their mission and marvelling at how it went better than their wildest dreams. They are thoroughly enjoying watching us spend ourselves into oblivion, to the brink of financial ruin, willing to destroy ourselves to their amusement. They are loving their new infrastructure....roads and bridges. I find it amazing that there are still people in this country that will stand there and say that this mission was a success. In the end...Bin Laden was killed by a small group of incredibly brave men, experts in their field, in a covert operation under cover of night in of all places...Pakistan. Was it really necessary to decimate two countries, kill thousands of people, sacrifice our own brave soldiers and bankrupt our country to find this one man?
No discussion of our security would be complete without bringing up the subject of illegal immigration. Nine years after 9-11 we still have 15 million undocumented people in this country that we know absolutely nothing about. They are walking across our border without question by the thousands....on a daily basis. Forget about the fact that they are taking jobs from honest hard working Americans who are here 'legally' at a time when unemployment is above 9%...they are in our public schools, our jails and prisons, our hospitals and our entitlement programs at a staggering cost to the taxpayers. They are smuggling their drugs across the border, growing their pot on our federal land and killing our citizens as they exploit our lack of attention.There are people who actually argue that it is 'unfair' to ask a suspected illegal immigrant for identification. That blows my mind. What's to stop the next twenty terrorists with a half baked plan from crossing into this country with all the ease of the those who wreaked havoc on 9-11? Nothing!!! They can bring their dirty bomb right across the border without fear of being stopped and asked for identification. That's amazing. Are we just going to live with the Mexican drug cartel? Are we just going to let them infiltrate our country and take control of our inner cities? Are we just going to stand back as they murder our citizens and sell their drugs to our children? Are we going to let them keep taking jobs from the middle class? There are people who argue they are only taking the jobs nobody else wants. Let me tell you this...that is clearly not the case!!! In California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and too many other states to mention a huge portion of the construction industry is made up of illegal immigrants. Framers, roofers, floor covering installers, painters and landscapers are all losing their jobs to illegal immigrants who will work for less money. Shame on the companies who hire them!!!! Even large companies like Walmart, McDonalds...even Verizon are known to hire these illegal immigrants. If you don't think that's a problem you are seriously fooling yourself. Illegal immigration is a major problem that must be solved...now. If left alone it will surely cripple this country and be the nail in our coffin. It's a security issue 'and' an economic issue. I'm not saying we should send them all back to Mexico, but at the very least we should offer the 15 or 20 million illegals that are here now a thirty day window to come forward, pass a background check and apply for a work visa. Maybe then we can talk about their 'path to citizenship'. John Huntsman is right...we can't even discuss a path to citizenship until the border is secure. If they are not willing to step forward in a given time frame and submit to a background check for a legal work visa then I think they should be sent back to their country of origin regardless of how long they have been in this country illegally. Here's a novel idea...let's use our military for something that will actually make us more secure...like patrolling our borders!!!
I'm not so naiive as to blame all our debt problems on 9/11, I am smart enough however to recognize that our knee jerk reaction has certainly cost us billions of dollars and contributed heavily to our national deficit. Isn't it time we pull out of these countries now? Isn't it about time we quit trying to 'police' the world? Isn't it time to pull out of South Korea...eastern Europe...and anywhere else that our resources are being used and abused? Isn't it time we start concentrating on our own infrastructure? There are those who want to solve our deficit problems by making Medicare a voucher program, privatizing social security and raising the retirement age. They want to do away with the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Education, The Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Reserve. They complain there are too many people on food stamps and too many people with unemployment benefits. This frankly scares the hell out of me. No one is talking about the rampant 'fraud' going on in these programs? Medicare is being bankrupted from fraud, not from the citizens who have paid into it all their lives. There are those like the Tea Party who are unwilling to compromise. They want radical changes and they are willing to push this country into default to get their way. There are so called news stations who have made it their mission to bring down this administration and polarize the country. There are politicians like Michelle Bachman who complain bitterly about the stimulus package yet had her hand out to get her fair share of it. She complains about medicare being broken yet she and her husband have been defrauding medicare for years. Then there's the democrat Mary Landreau who sold her health care vote for millions of dollars of pork spending for her state, John Edwards who defrauded his supporters and used their money to cover up his illicit affair, Sarah Palin, who actually placed targets on the backs of democrats and then Gabby Giffords gets shot in the head and several of her supporters killed, including an innocent child. Did she even apologize? If she did, I didn't hear it. And don't try to argue that it was a random incident. The woman had a target on her back! I don't care if it was a random incident. It was a cold and dangerous thing for Sarah Palin to do.
Political office shouldn't be a way to get rich, yet so many in today's Washington seem to manipulate their office for their own good. Is it a wonder that so many like me consider themselves to be independent? I vote for the best candidate...republican or democrat. I vote for the candidate that speaks to 'me'. I'm a moderate. I do not support anyone too far to the right or left. I say get rid of the fraud, get rid of anyone who isn't willing to compromise. Install term limits so they can get down to the business of the country and quit worrying about their next election. I don't think Obama is the strongest leader we've had, but he is the only one I can see who is willing to compromise....the problem with that is, when he does he is percieved as being 'weak'...even by those in his own party. Will I vote for him in 2012? That remains to be seen. So far the Republicans are scaring the hell out of me and they haven't had a single candidate step forward that I can support and as long as they let themselves be manipulated by the Tea Party this independent will steer clear of them.