I was planning a day off, until I realized it is September 11. That 13 years have passed boggles, truly!
Now, in the prior version of Mark Rubin Writes, I wrote NOTICE: IF YOU’RE A CONVENTIONAL THINKER, DON’T READ THIS POST! I REALLY MEAN IT!. Originally, it was in A Life at 50-ISH.
I argued, back in 2010, that we gave too much credence to what happened on 9/11/2001. Don’t misunderstand me, please. What happened was horrible beyond words, and I cannot imagine facing the task of responding “appropriately.” But, we were then and are now and have been for a very long time the most powerful nation on this planet, and al Qaeda lived in caves at the time. They dealt us a horrible hand, but we played it as if they knew we had bad cards , and had control of our brains. Imagine the pleasure associated with killing 3000 people and, as a result, causing the most powerful nation in the world to start wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a country that had effing nothing to do with the World Trade Center bombings. Boy howdy, did we walk into that one!
Now, a decade and more later, many of the same characters rant on and on about “do something,” and if that something involves bombs and guns, I don’t have any sense that the screamers care very much who we attack. They’re also certainly happy to score on the issue. For example, Rep. Jack Kingston, (R. Ga.) explains the Republican position on a vote on action against ISIS. With no vote, he says “[w]e can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.” Well, aren’t you the leader, and I’ll bet your mama is real proud! (Representative Kingston tried to improve his lot by running for an open Senate seat. He lost. Good riddance!)
For some reality I offer President Obama, Congress and Strategy for Defeating the Islamic State, an hour of the September 8 Diane Rehm Show, hosted by Susan Page. Nuance was the order of the day, including a discussion about just how much value ISIS gets out of being the subject of a prime time speech by the leader of the free world, and maybe having a war fought against it.
Our friends on the right are so America-centric that they can’t appreciate the impact of our actions on this part of the world. That we have a careful, cautious president may not feel good in the moment, and the caution may give the bad guys a sense of weakness, but it’s that lack of care and caution that, in part, has us where we are now. And the rest? Well, for starters there’s the fact that we treated the Moslem world as if it was our personal filling station. The owners were happy, for sure, but none of us ever paid attention to anyone else at the station, or in the ‘hoods around it. We can rant about them, and believe you me, a big chunk of my brain says f*cking nuke them for what they do and how they do it, but we have a real problem on our hands, decades in the making, and decades or more in the fixing. President Obama’s solution may not be right, completely, but we’re dealing with non-state actors who care not at all about life, whether it be those of American journalists, those of Moslems in the towns and cities they control, or their own.
When I was young—even as recently as 13 years ago, less a week or two—Americans rallied around their leaders in times of crisis. Sure, at some time breaking ranks becomes appropriate. (But for action against the Vietnam War, we might still be in Southeast Asia.) But now? What we hear from a former Vice President (Richard Bruce Cheney), two sitting Senators (Lindsey Graham and John McCain), a sitting Congressman (Mr. Kingston), and many other Republicans, leaves me cold. We have a real, complex, difficult situation on our hands, and I for one am glad we have a president who won’t indulge in the “nuke ‘em” solution that might make me, just a guy, smile!