Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rally 'Round, America

President Obama made his much-awaited speech on Afghanistan this past week. His purpose: To rally America around the war effort. He failed. Fancy words and false emotions are never good rallying points.

First, he invoked 9-11. That was a shameful attempt to stoke a nation’s anger, and this from a president who is fond of saying, “I prefer to look ahead.”

Haven’t we killed and died enough for 9-11? To avenge the deaths of 3,000 Americans, we have killed over 100,000 Iraqis and Afghanis, and lost another 5,000 Americans besides. Enough of 9-11. Build your memorial and move on. Certainly, no more human beings need die for its sake.

Second, Obama seeks to blur the lines between the Taliban and Al Quaeda, to mislead as many Americans as possible into thinking the Taliban are responsible for 9-11. The Taliban are no more responsible for 9-11 than are the Americans, or the Saudis.

The people who brought down the Twin Towers—90% of whom sere Saudis; none of whom were Afghanis—were trained in the U.S., boarded planes in the U.S., with the express purpose of using U.S. planes against the U.S. Most Americans know this. Yet, Obama seeks to convince even these Americans that it is the Taliban (and the 100 remaining Al Quaeda in Afghanistan) who threaten the U.S. The Saudi, Osama bin Laden, may have plotted the 9-11 attack in Afghanistan (while he was a guest of the Taliban), but that plot could just as easily have been hatched in an Algerian bath.

How does our president hope to convince Americans that the people of Afghanistan pose a threat to us? Most reasonable Americans can look at a map and see that Afghanistan is landlocked. It has neither an air force, nor a navy. Threaten us? It is easier to get to America from almost any other place on Earth than it is to get here from Afghanistan.

And with all of the government workers in this country—CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security, Coast Guard, National Guard, air traffic control, Customs, local and stat police—if every one of them simply did the job they are paid to do, not one Afghan could get close to the U.S. without an invitation.

Then there is the matter of Obama’s offer to the Taliban: “Lay down your guns and renounce violence…” Are you serious? “Lay down your guns….” This from the president of a nation whose citizens’ right to bear arms is written into its constitution.

President Obama cannot tell his won citizens to “Lay down your guns…” Yet he goes to a foreign land and tells its citizens to “lay down” theirs. Does he believe Americans are so hypocritical as to rally ‘round that?

The Boys of Woodland Park

It is normal for young men to rise up against foreign invaders; it is normal for young boys to want to start early.

When I was a boy, I attended a one-room school in Woodland Park, Michigan, a small African-American village at the northern edge of Newaygo County. During recess, we had our games: baseball, wrestling, fishing, and in the winter, we went into the swamps to beak ice.

But no game mattered to us like our war games. We were Marines, and we held ourselves to that unique discipline. We even had to each learn the Marine Corp battle hymn, and be ready to sing it.

It was the late 50’s and early 60’s, and the enemy invader was the Germans. They lurked behind every tree, and beneath every knoll. Many a day—with rock grenades and guns made of sticks—we bravely charged mortar batteries and machine-gun nests in defense of Woodland Park. It was our job. We took it seriously.

No one told us to do this—we formed our battalion instinctively, and waged war on the imaginary enemy with the zeal of Spartans.

Today when I look into the innocent faces of Afghan boys on the evening news, I see in them the Boys of Woodland Park—the same spirit, the same yearning to fulfill a primal destiny.

As we wage our 21st century wars on these foreign soils, let us be wary of becoming the face of the eternal invader. For if it comes to that, the Boys of Afghanistan will dream of us. And, in their dreams, they will vanquish the invader. I know. I was one of them. It is their job.