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Posted By: Dave, on host
Date: Friday, September 21, 2001, at 12:59:04

I am under no delusions that any of you actually care what my thoughts on recent events are, but writing them down helps me to codify them, and hey, since I'm writing them down, I might as well share them with all of you.

My reaction to President Bush's speech last night was pretty much the same as Stephen's. I did not vote for the man, nor did I vote for his major alternative, Al Gore. My vote was a protest vote for Ralph Nader, not because I really wanted Nader to win (in fact, I think that probably would have been the worst result of them all) but because I refused to vote for either of the two silver-spoon, spoiled twins. However, I will say had the choice been between just Bush and Gore, or Bush, Gore, and Buchanan, I would have voted Bush simply because I feel he was definitely the lesser of two evils.

But strange things happen during crisis times. People come together under their leadership, regardless of party affiliation or who voted for whom. I'm sure there are still a lot of Americans out there who wish Al Gore was president right now, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find one who won't stand behind Bush and the Congress in this time of trouble.

Also, I saw (or rather, heard, as I was driving home during the speech and heard it on the radio) a Bush last night that I hadn't really seen before. He was calm, he was articulate, he was resolute, and when necessary, he was passionate. In short, he was a leader. He stood up before Congress and the nation and told us what we needed to hear, without sugar-coating anything. Sure, I'm 99% certain he didn't write that speech. But he spent enough time with it to commit it to memory (if there's one thing GW Bush SUCKS at it's giving a speech off a teleprompter), and I'm sure he spent many hours with his advisors and writers to make sure the speech hit all the right points, made plain our course in as far as we can see it right now, and was as straight-forward as possible. His address was nothing short of inspiring, which is something I never thought GW Bush could be.

In attendance were many of Bush's advisors, the most notible I saw during replays and soundbites being Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. These are two people I'm very thankful for in these times. When Bush was elected, I had a discussion with a certain somebody. We were discussing the merits and flaws of the two main candidates. My logic at the time was "better an idiot with good handlers than an egomaniacal spoiled brat." In principle, I still stand by that statement, even though in practice, I no longer consider Bush a complete moron. I say this mostly because a moron would not have appointed and nominated these "good handlers" to help him do his job. And really, the job of being President of the United States is almost too big for one person. Without advisors, cabinet members, and "handlers", no President would ever look good or be an inspiring leader. It's obvious to me that Bush made some excellent choices to fill the positions around him, and for that I'm thankful.

Another thought, on allies and friends in this coming conflict. British PM Tony Blair was in attendance last night, and Bush made the stirring comment that "America has no truer friend than Great Britain". It's a statement that deserves reflection. The history of Britain and America is in many respects the history of a parent and a child. Many nations colonized the new world, but in American public schools, we are generally taught that the history of our country began with the English colony of Jamestown in 1607. The Spanish had been here longer, the Portugese and the French had larger holdings, but we Americans consider our history to begin with the first successful English colony in Virginia.

We were faithful subjects of the crown until 1776. Between those years we grew into a small, loosly confederated group of colonies hugging the eastern seaboard. And in 1776, we did what many children do when confronted with what they perceive as the harsh and unfair rule of the parent--we rebelled. We fought a war for our independence--but it is only called the "War of Independence" or the "Revolutionary War" because we won. If we had lost, it would be called a failled rebellion, or a civil war, or simply an act of treason. We fought our parent for the right to govern ourselves, and emerged victorious. We fought again in 1812, and even though the British won most every major engagement, sacked and burned Washington, and pretty much kicked our ass, we somehow remained an independant nation. If nothing else, it taught us not to go picking fights with Canada. ;-)

And, as often happens with a parent and a child, we eventually reconciled. The US was slow to react during World War I, but when we did we came to the aid of the British and the French and helped end the war. (And just as an aside, I'd like to throw in the random observation that it was Anzac troops on the ground, and not an American or British flying ace who brought down the Red Baron. Also, I'll shoot anyone who makes a Snoopy joke. ;-) Again, in World War II, we were slow to react. We were still thinking that isolationism was something that was a valid option, and that we could keep ourselves out of what we saw as a strictly European conflict. Pearl Harbor proved us wrong, and we entered the war against Germany just days later, when the Germans declared war on us.

What strikes me the most about World War II is how much abuse the British took on their own turf. I see in that conflict a mirror of what could possibly happen to us in this conflict. The British were bombed, shelled, and battered daily for weeks, months. Imagine terrorists striking at us with impunity every single day, imagine every city in the US being attacked in some way, and you have a picture of what it was like to be in Britain during WWII. And yet I hope that if it comes to that, our country will hold up as well as our parent country did during their darkest hour. Churchill and the British people stood defiantly before the Nazi agressors and never backed down, even while they waited, rather impatiently, for help from their child across the sea. In his famous "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech, Churchill bolstered the morale of his people, and rallied them to the cause of mutual defence, even while imploring the US for aid: "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall *never* surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old." I read that speech today, and although I am proud of my country and what we did during World War II, I find myself ashamed that it was a full year and more before we finally answered that call.

And when we finally did show up, the British weren't in any mood to take a break. They didn't want to sit and lick their wounds while we went off and defended them. They wanted to get on the boats and haul ass for France and kick some Nazi butt, which is exactly what they did. I can only hope and pray that my own country, faced with such devestation, would respond with similar bravery and determination.

World War II tought us the dangers of isolationism. We could and should have come to the aid of the free nations of Europe sooner than we did. Doing so would more than likely have saved many French, British, American, and even German and Japanese lives. Instead we waited until our hand was forced, and nearly arrived too late. The cost was great, but the goal was greater--unfortunately, the cost could have been less had we acted sooner.

So I look now at our current crisis, and I see our allies immedietly rallying to our side, and it makes me glad to see that at least some of us have learned the lessons that World War II taught us. Great Britain knows what terror is, and knows what it is like to live with terrorism. And they were one of the first nations to offer not just monetary, intelligence, humanitarian, or diplomatic aid, but also military aid should that become necessary.

I have often been derisive and condescending towards many "furiners" here on the forum, but I hope most people realize that I do not seriously think that the US is always good and always right and that other countries and their citizens are stupid and weak. I have a great respect for our European and Pacific allies and would gladly support our country in any effort to defend them should the need arrise. (Well, maybe not France. Ok, ok, France too.) And I'm glad to see that most of them feel the same way about us. Even specific people such as wintermute, whom I have had many differences of opinion with in the past, are saying things that I agree wholeheartedly with. It makes me feel good that citizens of Europe, most especially the British, are reacting to this crisis in what I see as the correct and proper way. Nobody wants to fight a war, but when war is thrust upon them, right-thinking people take the battle to the enemy, and do not relent until the enemy is defeated and incapable of threatening anyone again. On this point, the US and Britain and most of the rest of our European and Pacific allies stand as one.

Finally, a point that is only tangentially related to the President's speech. I fear that too many people, including ones who are currently advocating the same things I am advocating, are not understanding the true reasons for doing what we are currently on a course to do. I hear the word "retaliation" and the word "retribution" used too often, and it's beginning to worry me. Revenge should not be a factor in this coming war. Neither should retribution, or any emotion that is based on "getting even" or "getting the bastards who did this". We are pursuing justice, and the safety of all Americans and our allies. Our goal is to "get the people who did this", but not to "get even" with them, it is to bring them to justice and assure that they can never do this to us or anyone else again. That is why the scope of this action is so broad--we're not just going to call it good if we get bin Ladin, or even his whole group. We're going after terrorism everywhere that has within its capabilities the ability to strike at America or our allies. We are doing this to assure our safety, not for revenge. I think too many people miss that point, and I wish to make clear my position and the position of all people who are thinking clearly about this subject. We're a civilized people. We don't "get even". We pursue justice. We don't seek revenge, we seek safety. We will not allow others to dictate how we will live our lives--and that is exactly what they are trying to do with their tactics. They are trying to scare us into changing the way we live, the very basis of our society. We can not and will not let that happen.

-- Dave

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