8 May 2012
Why do I blog? Is it for the fame? Glory? Money? Women? I do it because I want to do it. Because, weird as this may sound to some, I find this fun. I think I mainly get this palpable sense of satisfaction from the act of me finding what I like to call, “The 3rd Door.” That is, an independent perspective and/or solution that nobody else is thinking of. Being a non-partisan, I believe the truth and the right answer lies in the middle of the two sides of an answer.
Still, I acknowledge why people choose to ignore The 3rd Door, especially in America. The 3rd Door is the proverbial road less-traveled, which of course lacks heavy foot traffic because it is hard. Humanity and the universe as a whole are naturally programmed to resist hardships. Lightning strikes the place of least resistance, water flows downhill.
Still, the easiest path is rarely the best, especially when it comes to politics and solving the problems of a country. But, this inherently goes against the idea of “party politics,” where America is seemingly gridlocked by ideas being decided by whatever the party that holds the most power at the time wants. This has proven in recent years and decades to be, frustrating and ineffective. The perfect example of this, because it was created by party politics, is the Iraq War.
As we look back on the Iraq War in the future; something we’re going to have to do eventually, as much as we do not care to at the moment, I think party politics should be right at the forefront of blame of us entering the middle east are the terms of war. What caused us to go into Iraq & Afghanistan? An uninformed person might say, “Terrorists.” And while this may technically be right by the minds of some people, it would be wrong. Terrorism and 9/11 didn’t cause us to invade the middle east. Our response to Terrorism and 9/11 caused us to invade the middle east. Let’s explore that response.
“There’s three sides to every story. There’s one side, there’s the other, and then there’s the truth.” – Usher’s Monstar
Let’s first look at the 3 possible responses we could have had, sorted out by party, which of course will contain some amount of hyperbole and cliche, but bear with me on this:
The Democrat response would be to do nothing. Again, this is hyperbole, but most Democrats were against the Iraq war on the grounds that they were not convinced Iraq was the proper course of response, nor did many think our strategy for going into Iraq was a good one. While they may have been right in some aspects, I think we would have had a whole different, not necessarily better, set of problems to deal with.
The Independent response would be to strategically route out Al Qaeda and eliminate them and their infrastructure. How do you do this? Well, that’s the problem with Independents. We don’t know. That’s not our job. Ours is to be the voice of dissent, saying that there’s another way that we’re not thinking of. A better way. But this is hard to come up with, and would require lots of planning. So we chose the easy path.
The Republican response was to brand the whole region a bunch of walking America-hating demons, who hated our way of life and stuff. This is debatebly hyperbole, but the fact of the matter is that a system of rhetoric was created to brand the conflict and to create support for it. If the work of Frank Luntz, who “tests language,” has taught us anything, it’s that simple name-changes and policy-brandings can either garner support or hatred for your cause. Calling it all a “War On Terror,” Countries involved a “Axis of Evil,” and saying that Terrorists “Dream to destroy” is all part of this series of rhetoric used to gain support immediately, and indefinitely after the 9/11 attacks. America wanted somebody to blame, so the Bush administration gave them somebody to blame. With the escalating rhetoric that followed, the message was clear: Ambiguity was to die a horrible, unacknowledged death.
The duality of truth and politics forced the Bush administration to argue a more broad and irresponsible approach to the war in the interest of easiness, using gross war rhetoric to help convince the American public to follow along and not seek a better alternative. Make no mistake about it, the 2000s, post-9/11 were defined by war, even when we weren’t at war.
After all, who’s wants to root out Terrorism networks systematically, when we could save Joe Iraqi from a life of terrorism? While we’re at it, shouldn’t we also save Joe Iraqi from terrible dictators? Shouldn’t we give Joe Iraqi the chance to vote? Shouldn’t we also camp out near Joe Iraqi’s house so we can be in an easy position to invade/save Joe Afgani or Joe Iranian? Also, Joe Iraqi has “Weapons of Mass Destruction” near his house, so we might as well take care of that while we’re there.
It’s an Imperialist mentality that America has adopted for the past 50-odd years, screwing us and others over almost every, single, bloody, time. It’s all been predicated on us seeing others as lesser-beings, which is easier than seeing each other as we really are, human beings. It’s a running course of history: Those who think they are better than others are the lesser beings.
Maybe all this is derived from the tangibleness we desire from war. In Vietnam, we would define victory by the amount of the enemy we killed, which led to many of the inhuman acts committed during that period. But even though they were grossly inflated, it was still something that the government could show the American public that we were actually winning, despite what a lie it was, which would come back to bite them later.
With terrorism, there’s no land to say we took from the enemy. A body count doesn’t really work in this case since we’re supposed to minimize casualties. After all, this is a mission to bring peace to the region, and therefore the world.
At first, WMDs were the tangible goal. Then we didn’t find them. Then peace was the goal. But then it never came. Then the goal was winning. But nobody knew what winning was. Then it was reasons. Then answers weren’t provided. Then we kind of left. Then we went to Afghanistan. Then it was reasons. And somewhere in there, we threw up our hand and were like, “Screw it, I just don’t give a damn anymore!” So we stopped caring, and we’ve been doing things having to do with reasons ever since.
Point is that we’ve been stuck in a satisfaction-less state for the past 10 years, devoid of closure. To find our closure, we had to tear ourselves apart to our very core, and celebrate the death of a human being. Was it wrong? Maybe. But honestly, in the moment, America was going to take what it could get and call it a victory. Osama Bin Laden was going to be our closure. But maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it’s not the end yet. Even now, Republicans are getting onto President Obama for propping up the fact that his administration is touting the fact that it houses the death of Bin Laden, a little bit too much.
It’s good that we severely weakened the terrorist network known as “Al Qaeda” and discouraged terrorism around the globe and made “Saddam Hussein” and “Osama Bin Laden” not long for this world. But at what cost did this come? We could say that we lost our innocence, but that would be cheesy. Besides, I’m pretty sure the Baby Boomers would say that happened when Kennedy was shot. Still others before them would say, Pearl Harbor. And I’m sure that others would argue that it came with the Civil War as brother literally fought brother.
But maybe it didn’t come with a cost at all. Maybe it just sped up what was already inevitable with party divisions and a time where we were so hungry for war that we were making up crap up in Somalia. The pride of our egos was destined to send us in a spiral paying the proverbial piper.
I think the best analysis of it all comes from George Packer, who wrote a piece for The New Yorker called, “Coming Apart.” If there is one piece of writing where we turn to for answers about the mystery of the 00s, it’s this piece. Written for the 10th anniversery of 9/11, Packer takes a look at what America has become in the years since the attacks. What follows is one of the most insightful pieces of writing I’ve ever read, written with the hindsight of somebody 20 years in the future, instead of somebody still coming to grips about what just happened a country. Here, Packer talks about the test of “September 11th decade”:
“After the attacks, Americans asked, “Why do they hate us?” This turned out to be the wrong line of inquiry. The most pressing questions were about us, not them: our leaders, our institutions, our ability to act as a cohesive nation and make rational decisions, our power to take action abroad in a way that would not be a self-defeating waste. Starting with the intelligence failures that did not foresee the attacks, every major American institution flunked the test of the September 11th decade. The media got the W.M.D.s wrong. The military failed to plan for chaos in postwar Iraq. Congress neglected its oversight duties. The political system produced no statesmen. C.E.O.s and financiers couldn’t see past short-term profits. The Bush Administration had one major success: it succeeded in staving off another terrorist attack in America. It botched almost everything else.”
Maybe what we take from Iraq, 9/11 and everything else that happened in the 00s as lessons. The trap of partisanship can only lead to bad decisions, and the sooner we realize this, the better. Unity is still the key the future, and questions should always be asked before we start shooting. Unity is also something that shouldn’t only be discussed on Christmas and September 12th, but something we should practice everyday, whether it brings us personal gain, or not.
But I think the most important lesson is that we do need to realize that we are fundamentally broken. But at the same time, we are fixable. Not because we’re Americans, but because we’re human beings. We learn from our mistakes, and we do better. We take our 2nd chances and run with them. I have a dream that we can do this, and that it’s not too late. Prove me right America and Humanity. I know you can do it.
Tags: 00s, 2000s, 3rd door, 911, al qaeda, america, axis of evil, barack obama, change, Democrats, george bush, george packer, gop, government, imperialism, independent, iran, iraq, iraq war, obama, osama bin laden, partisan, partisanship, party politics, Politics, republican, saddam hussein, terrorism, terrorist, third door, truth, usher, vietnam war, war, war in Afghanistan, war on terror, wmds