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If you want something done right…

September 11, 2014

You do it yourself.  Many of us were raised on that axiom. It endures, because it is often true.

From saying just over a month ago that the “farmers, pharmacists and teachers” of Syria were not worthy recipients of our aid to expecting them to carry the brunt of our newest offensive against terrorism seems like a long stretch.

That’s not to say that someone’s peacetime occupation has any bearing on their ability to fight. Many of the people in our own armed forces have far different peacetime careers. They still make damned fine soldiers, and there are undoubtedly good fighters among the so-called “free Syrian” forces, provided that they have leaders who share our goals.

Depending on what carrot we dangle in front of our “broad coalition of allies” using a surrogate army might work, although the odds are against it.  History teaches that the Middle East doesn’t value geographic borders as much as it does tribal and cultural allegiances.

To the average “westerner” all that gets lost in translation. That presumably is why we pay people in government and the military to sort it out.

The average person on the street sees one motivation for getting into another Mideast conflict.  Ask most people and they will say the reason is that we need to kill them before they kill us.

Most of will never know whether there are really peaceful Islamic people. We hope there are, but in reality, we are like the three blind guys describing an elephant in terms of what they can touch, and what touches them.

What most people in the U.S. know of Islam is reflected in the images of planes flying into our buildings, the slow roll call of the people lost on this day in 2001 and 2012 or the smoke rising above a marathon finish line in Boston. We didn’t cause that, regardless of how some apologist politicians and their hangers-on would like to re-write history.

Perhaps there are similar horrific images burned into the brains of enough people in the Middle East to at least temporarily bind them in a common goal to destroy the world’s terrorists, many of whom fly the flag of a religion we have good reason to mistrust.

No one that sees the world through the cold, impersonal lens of reality believes that we will ever convert, damage or destroy all the people that want to kill us. The best we can hope to do is to beat them back into their holes until the next time, and there will be a next time.

Still, we have a job to do today.  Picking the best stick to whack them with would not seem to include pinning all our hopes on a foreign army.

It’s September 11 again, and no one has forgotten why we remember that day.

We know  to whom our troops pledge allegiance. President Obama says “no combat troops on the ground.”  Let’s see how well that works, and hope that we can still turn the tide when it doesn’t.

From → op-ed

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