I have had just about enough of the slings and arrows thrown against President George W. Bush regarding the war in the Middle East. It is about time the general population owned up to its own part in the war.
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We remember 9/11 vividly. The disbelief, rage, fear and tears. The only dots being connected were of those bodies being pushed out of the towers by fire. We remember the dancing in the streets in the Middle East. If the military had no recruitment age limit, many of us would have been proud to join those more able.
Rose-colored glasses were set on the shelf. This was not an airliner, embassy, naval ship, barracks or coffee shop on some distant shore. This event could not be measured by the inches of news line. This was prime time live-feed unfolding over hours and days. Bodies were counted by pieces of scorched bones at the landfill and pictures of the missing lining sidewalks.
The American psyche was rocked to its core, and we were out for blood. Had Bush not responded in kind, my grandchildren would know the reason why and it would not have been flattering. Sand dunes and caves in Afghanistan just did not do it for me. The Middle East had been the source of terror for the last quarter of a century and many of us were more than willing to reconfigure it.
The voices we hear today for a quick withdrawal were silent during this period for obvious reasons. Where were these voices the past 25 years as bodies piled up?
Try as our enemies might, we had not taken them seriously. So they orchestrated a strike worthy of Pearl Harbor to make it so. It worked. We are now taking them very seriously. But there appears to be a limit some of us are willing to accept on body counts in a world conflict. We have lost more souls in five years than were lost in the minutes it took for the towers to fall. Is this the trade-off?
Win or lose in Iraq, our enemies are not calling it a draw. In fact they want Afghanistan back. But let's not give them too much credit. Sure, they can make a left turn into a skyscraper, but they can't land the plane, even if they wanted to. Hell, they don't even own planes. They had to use ours. Our enemy does not have a flag, much less a country. The only pieces of real estate they can call their own are obtained by incursions and force against citizens and governments. Our enemy does not have uniforms. In fact, they wear masks or don the clothes of authority, or strap munitions to toddlers.
If these "voices" succeed in acquiescing to this enemy, then perhaps the time has come for my generation to silently slip into the shadows and just hope we are gone before the train wreck. Then again, I feel a responsibility to my children and grandchildren. I may not be able to shoulder a weapon in the theater of war, but I can add my own voice, and just perhaps others may come out of the shadows when the light at the end of the tunnel is seen for what it is.
Ken Dunker is a Juneau resident.
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