reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Category: Iraq (Page 1 of 11)

9/11, Fourteen Years On

Fourteen years later, I have nothing fundamentally new to add.

The horror of that day has long since been eclipsed in my mind by the consequent exposure of our own weakness, and our determined unwillingness to squarely confront the enemy that brought such horror to us, in the years since. Our appetite for self-deception and willfully naïve thinking far exceeds anything I’d have imagined. Our foundational institutions, from academia to journalism to entertainment and the arts to government and even our military, have been extensively compromised beyond likely repair by determined ideological termites whose goal of an ever-weaker America is now at hand. The realities of the day did not shake their belief systems, as I had once supposed an attack on our nation would. Nor has the steady litany of attacks in the years since — from London, to Madrid, to Beslan, to Bali, to Mumbai, to Kenya, to Paris, to Moscow, to the Fort Hood shooter, to the Beltway Snipers … the list goes on and on. Nor has the rise of ISIS, with all its attendant barbarity plainly on display for the whole world to see. ISIS operates with free reign because we — The United States in particular, and the West in general — lack the resolve and moral conviction to do anything substantial to stop them. We are now led by people deluded enough to believe that weakness is somehow strength, and that our implacable and barbaric enemies can be persuaded by olive branches and “Coexist” bumper-sticker platitudes. These are people who led us to abandon all gains in Iraq, with our intentions and timetable so clearly advertised that we might as well have hung out a “This territory up for grabs” sign. ISIS is expanding its reach virtually unchecked, and is successfully recruiting from Western populations, for God’s sake — because unlike us, they actually believe in themselves and what they are doing.

Soon, Iran — whose political and spiritual leaders have been unambiguous about their intentions toward Israel, the United States, and the West — will have nukes. They’ll have them because, gullible fools that we’ve become, we’ve effectively surrendered on that front too.

I’ve pleaded. I’ve striven to educate. As have many others, with much greater dedication and skill. At this point, those who can be awakened have been. Those who do not wish to see, won’t.

I’m weary of seeing things I don’t want to see, that few others are willing to see and acknowledge. I have no patience to stand by and watch a slow cultural suicide, nor do I especially want to spend years studying the mechanics of self-inflicted civilizational decline when there are far higher aspirations for this civilization of ours to reach. I have zero respect or patience for PC scolds and their demonstrably flawed multicultural platitudes, whose net effect ends up somewhere between naïve ignorance and willful sabotage. We, who have managed to welcome and happily “Coexist” with people of just about every other belief system in the world, have encountered an enemy that has been pretty clear about its lack of interest in “Coexist”-ing with us, and with our cultural foundations now compromised due to the willful actions of some among us, we are under-equipped to confront that reality and deal with it. We’re in grave danger of losing everything that matters, not because a handful of Jihadist scumbags attacked us on 9/11/2001, but because far too many among us are willing and eager to choose cultural surrender as an alternative to fighting and decisively defeating those rotten bastards.

It seems maybe, remotely possible that in the final, twilight years of this once great Civilization of ours, the lunatics who labored to institute such weakness might, as they finally start to notice things crumbling around them, look back and wonder whether they’d perhaps made a mistake or two — long, long after it’s far too late to do anything to turn the tide. I’m not holding my breath.

We’re a culture in serious need of a reboot, and I’ve turned my efforts to finding a way for that to happen — for some remnant of our indomitable spirit to have a chance to thrive again unhindered. Because in the end, mere physical survival and avoiding playing a part in the fulfillment of a Jihadi death wish for another day isn’t what it’s about. It’s the long-term survival of the essence of who we are that matters. And how that goes … is entirely up to us.

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2014: 9/11, Thirteen Years On

2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)

9/11, Thirteen Years On

Another 9/11 has rolled around. And while the grief and anger are still there, and we have renewed cause for concern this year in the rise of ISIS/ISIL, I find that my feelings seem not particularly more pronounced on this day relative to any other. The problems that we are obliged to squarely face endure, and are relevant every day of the year, not just on anniversaries of the September 11th, 2001 Jihadist attacks on the United States.

The sickening brutality of ISIS/ISIL and its ideological fellow travelers such as Boko Haram has been something for the world to behold. If we cannot now see with complete clarity what these scumbags are about, I don’t know what it will take. The fact of things as I see it is that ISIS/ISIL are but a particularly awful symptom, one that is enabled and allowed to exist only to the extent that we lack the resolve to call them what they are and commit ourselves unreservedly to their complete and unconditional defeat.

The broader, underlying problem we face is an erosion of cultural confidence, and I’m sad to say it’s the predictable result of decades of steady, dedicated work by many among us — people whose aim has been to demoralize us and gradually chisel away at the foundations of our belief in who we are and the way that we live. An event such as 9/11 should have brought us to our senses, it seems to me, and brought an end to that idle self-doubt, seemingly born of boredom with years of relative safety and security. But I’ve been proven more wrong in that expectation than in any other of my life. Rather than have a change of heart, our cultural termites dug in and continued their toil. It makes no sense to me to see a culture of great achievement, worthy of celebration and of a strident and confident defense, in such willful and sometimes self-recriminating denial about the threats posed to it. But there it is. It’s an aspect of human nature that I suspect I will continue to struggle to understand for many years to come.

I do feel I’ve made progress, though, in casting off the shadow of gloom this past year and a half or so. It feels as if my thinking has shifted to a point of: OK. So that’s how it is. What are you going to do about it?

Our present condition is not cause to sit in idle resignation. It’s cause to get up, dust ourselves off, and fix the things that matter. And despite all the potential reasons for gloom, I’m doing it with gratitude in my heart, a cheerful demeanor, and a smile on my face — because I’ve learned that no matter what, one cannot allow others to drive him to despair. To have hope of prevailing, we must maintain a steady and undaunted focus on all that is positive in our love for what we hold dear. We must make that love stronger, more resilient, and more lasting than our enemies’ bitterness, brutality, and hate. It’s what I’ve been striving to do, and aim to continue to do, with The No Fear Pioneer (so please give a listen, and stay tuned for more to come).


That’s it for now. As in previous years, I may follow up with some links and quotes later, as I read good work by others. Below are links to my previous years’ 9/11 posts, including the 2009 retelling of my own peripheral but deeply affecting experience of that awful day. As before, I pledge myself never to forget — nor misremember. May we find our way to better times.

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)

V.I. Day 2011

In 2008, blogger “Zombie” published a thoughtful, well-reasoned post discussing the conditions for victory in Iraq, and calling for November 22nd to be observed as “Victory in Iraq Day”. Continued progress and relative stability over the three years since seems to me to have vindicated that judgment, and in line with what I wrote on the occasion that year, I think we ought to carry on the tradition. The U.S. and her allies achieved what many vehemently declared was impossible, ousting one of the world’s worst dictators, liberating the Iraqi people, and planting the seeds of freedom and representative democracy in what has been one of the most politically troubled and volatile regions of the globe. Today’s Iraq has its challenges and problems, to be sure, but it is a place far more full of genuine hope than it had been under two decades of Saddam’s brutal dictatorship, and stands as a stark and unflattering counterexample to the remaining dictatorships that surround it, have acted to undermine it, and feel their grip on power threatened by its very existence. Those are all things to be grateful for and to celebrate.

Even President Obama, who as a senator vigorously opposed what he declared to be an ill-motivated, ill-conceived, and unwinnable Iraq war, and as a candidate opportunistically vilified the war and the Bush administration, promising an immediate withdrawal of our troops if elected, no matter the consequences, has had to quietly concede that the U.S. won the very war he campaigned against. Once in office, and I suspect apprised of facts and perspective that only presidents and their military advisors have access to, he scrapped his promises of immediate and unconditional retreat and defeat to embrace the same overall policies and drawdown plan of the Bush administration that he previously demonized.

The Bush administration didn’t take it upon itself to declare victory, and it was clear that neither candidate Obama nor the press were about to do any such thing. It was up to others to do so, and I’m grateful to Zombie and the participants in 2008’s V-I Day for leading the way.

Victory in Iraq Day banner

I’m not one to focus on the negative, but there is something I hope will not be forgotten about this war, that I fear history books will not amply record: the way that victory was achieved despite the most intense vilification of American conduct and motives that I have seen in my lifetime. The opposition brought their biggest rhetorical guns to bear, some among them stopping at nothing and accusing us of the most vile, malevolent intentions. We were charged by some with going to Iraq to steal their oil, to claim the land as a permanent colony of our vast, overbearing Empire, or simply for the implicit joy of killing dark-skinned people. There are people for whom it is a foregone conclusion that such actions are clearly and exactly what the United States is all about, for whom we are the exact polar opposite of all that we claim to stand for, because in order for those people to win hearts and minds it must be made to be so. The record of our actual conduct proved otherwise, casting our soldiers’ actions in start contrast with the brutality of foreign fighters who committed themselves to the failure of the Iraqi project at all costs, deliberately inflicting the kind of mass civilian casualties that the United States takes greater pains than any combatant in history to avoid. Sadly, history’s record will not prevent the same accusations from being endlessly recycled. We will fight identical smears again in future conflicts — I feel sure of it — and we had therefore best learn from this experience and be mentally prepared to battle the same calumnies again.

As I wrote on my recently added “Welcome” page, and meant it: I feel deeply, humbly grateful and indebted beyond capacity for adequate repayment to the men and women of the United States armed forces, and equally so to our truest friends in this world, the soldiers of our stalwart allied nations, who daily risk everything they have in this brief life for the liberty and safety of others, setting aside even their own. Let there be no doubt: I want them to have the full support that their risk and sacrifice merits, and I want them to be given every chance to succeed that they ask of us — precious little to expect, I think, in return. They have my sincerest admiration, and with remarkably few exceptions that serve to prove the rule, I am deeply, deeply proud of their demonstrated ethics, courage, fairness, generosity, resourcefulness, and professional conduct as our emissaries in hostile lands. The precious, fragile free society that we so often take for granted is the very thing they are risking all to preserve and defend, and they should have our heartfelt gratitude.

Marines passing out Spirit-of-America-provided school supplies in Ramadi, Iraq

To those who risked all to make Iraq’s liberation possible, and to those who lost all making it happen, may you forever have the gratitude of the freer world you left behind. You are the best of us, in my book, and we are lucky to count you as our fellow citizens.

US and UK troops make preparations in Kuwait, 2003

US marine flying colors, Kuwait, 2003

the famous toppling of a Saddam Hussein statue

For additional perspective, see Bill Whittle’s September 2011 “What We Did Right,” which, among its survey of the decade since the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks, examines the results of our intervention in Iraq.

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