I was 17 when the student radicals took over the U.S. embassy in Iran, an event that so angered me I felt President Carter was within his rights to drop an H-bomb on Tehran, even if it killed all the hostages and just about everybody else. Now, before any of you peaceniks out there get angry, let me say I no longer feel that way. I'm glad that Carter didn't drop an H-bomb, an A-bomb, a neutron bomb, a jellied gasoline bomb, a buzz bomb, or even a cherry bomb on Iran, when it would have been politically advantageous for him to do so. He later won the Nobel Peace Prize both for the Camp David accords, and his efforts to promote peace after he left office. But, as far as I'm concerned, he could have won solely for restraining his inner hawk in his final year of office, even at the cost of re-election.
22 years later, two planes flew into each of the World Trade Center towers, and one flew into the Pentagon, resulting in close to 3000 deaths. I was angry about that, too. In spite of the greater loss of life, or, for that matter, any loss of life (as scary as they seemed at the time, the Iranian hostage-takers of 1979 didn't kill anybody) I didn't want the H-bomb dropped this time. Call it maturity. Still, I felt we had to do something. Those deaths had to be answered. That had to be avenged. Or else they all would have died in vain.
It soon came out that a Middle-Easterner by the name of Osama Bin Laden, and a terrorist organization he headed called Al-Qaeda, were behind the attacks. They were headquartered in Afghanistan. Another group called the Taliban, which ran Afghanistan, wouldn't give the killers up. That was belligerent enough for me. President Bush was well within his rights to declare war on Afghanistan. Barring that, the Taliban. Or at least Al-Qaeda.
Instead, Bush declared war on terrorism. He declared war on a word.
Still, it seemed like a war on Afghanistan. The Taliban were soon toppled from power, and Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were on the run.
Problem was, nobody seemed to run after Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda. And, in a remarkably short time, nobody seemed to care. Not the mainstream media, not the business community, not the political establishment (including the Democratic half of that establishment), and, finally, not even We, The People.
Because we were now going to go to war with Iraq. That would avenge those 3000 deaths on 9/11, even if they were 3000 deaths Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with. The war with Iraq started out well. A statue was toppled. Hussein was caught and hung on live cell phone. But it was a war we didn't seem to know how to end. So far, about 4000 Americans have died in Iraq so that the 3000 dead of 9/11 won't have died in vain.
A week ago, President Obama reminded us again of 9/11. He also reminded us of the original villains of the piece, Bin Laden and Al-Qeada. And he reminded us of their original headquarters, Afghanistan. Except that's not their current headquarters. They're now in Pakistan, something the Pakistanis have recently denied. Wherever they are, maybe on the moon, we're now in Afghanistan, and will be even more in Afghanistan in the next couple of years.
Obama spoke out against the war in Iraq, and, to some, that gives him credibility, or at least cover, in the Afghan buildup. I can only hope he's doing the right thing. People who spoke out for the war in Iraq have been speaking out for a renewed war in Afghanistan, and the President, perhaps coincidentally, seems to be heeding their advice.
Except for the deadline for withdrawal. The hawks are upset about that. I'm not too happy about it either, but for a much different reason. It makes me wonder if this isn't all for show. We just can't seem to get any closure on this thing. This thing being 9/11. 3000 died. And 4000 died in Iraq. We can't let them all die in vain. We have to do something. So lets have a surge in Afghanistan like the one we had in Iraq. Show that we're serious, get the bad guys to back off some, declare Bin Laden dead or irrelevant, declare victory, and then scram.
Hopefully, they can do this without too many more dying for those who died in vain.