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Some Impressions on the War on Terrorism

Common intuition says that the U.S. is at a cross-roads, a threshold point. What is that threshold? It is, "what shape will it make out of itself given that it is a world power; in the adolescence of its world powerness?"

It's been very brief, say fifty years. Two things make it very difficult. (1) It never prepared itself for such a role. In fact, one can see that its early psychology was a kind of anti-empire, anti-world power mentality while feeling out its own territory. And, (2), the introduction of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the last half of the last century.

The U.S. has had to rely on old empire models in order to find some kind of equilibrium or guidance to this role that's been thrust on it. The British Empire was, obviously and ironically, the model adapted with the actions in the Middle-East closely resembling each other. One thing is very clear, The fact of being a world power makes for a profound transition which involves every aspect of national life. There are no absolute answers to the kinds of questions that arise. The citizen, finally, tries to be aware of as many of the details as possible.

And we are citizens first. We observe these things as a family observes itself.

One has to be alarmed at the secrecy and closed-off nature of the Bush Administration. It always points to disaster. It's very obvious that the inexperienced, naive President stumbled into something that has trapped him. The world has closed the trap door behind him and now we are in the proverbial mess. If the objective was to conduct a war on terrorism using Iraq as a staging area that would monitor, flush out, and get rid of the terrorist networks that's one thing. But, the two stated purposes of the invasion were to destroy WMD and to democratize Iraq. And clearly we need the President to stand up and tells us, in his own words, why we are in Iraq. That is the key to leadership. In 1964, when Lyndon Johnson begged his advisors to tell him why they were in Vietnam, the die was cast. If the commander-in-chief doesn't know, then no one else does. It's all useless speculation.

We think the Bush Administration was very successful following the terrorist attack. But, in Iraq there was no clear mission that has been articulated to the American people. And the fact they are so control-minded when it comes to the press tells one that the real purpose and the stated purpose are two different animals.

If things continue along the way they are there will be a change in administrations in 2004. And it is the brilliance of the founding fathers to make sure each President would have to stand for accountability every four years. The next administration will not have to eat crow but, rather, change a few of the attitudes and policies and make nice with the rest of the world.

Posted October 7, 2003

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David Eide
copyright 2003
March 27, 2003