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Day of Reckoning: My Two Cents on Learning from 9/11
Spare Change | 11 September 2009 | David J. Aland

Posted on 09/11/2009 8:03:29 AM PDT by SpareChange

Spare Change

Day of Reckoning: My Two Cents on Learning from 9/11

David J. Aland 11 Sep 09

I survived 9/11 without a scratch. I didn’t even get my uniform dirty. Through nothing less than the grace of God, I was not where I was supposed to be when the terrorists slammed an airliner into the Pentagon. Friends, colleagues, and shipmates of mine died that day, but I lived.

In the hours, days, and weeks that followed, my hands joined the thousands that picked up, reconstituted, and continued the work of those that had been killed. To this day, I cannot pass the side of the Pentagon that faces Arlington Cemetery without recalling the devastation there, scorched stone and blasted dreams. But like so many other Americans, I learned to go on, to set it aside, to persist in spite of it.

But I admit that there is a part of me that has never, and probably will never let go of that day. I was reminded of this as I read a column by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post the other day, finding myself in surprisingly vehement agreement with him. Sadly, I must admit, as did Cohen, that I have not evolved far enough by modern standards. Eight years later, I still want revenge. So does Cohen:

“Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden.”

For a columnist whose opinions are almost always well to the left of mine, Cohen summed it up beautifully. I say: Bring me his head and the heads of his lieutenants. Then burn their homes and plow salt into their fields. Let their legacy be silence, and their names lost forever.

Not exactly the notion of a civilized man.

After eight years of nation-building in Iraq, martial diplomacy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, global “wars” on terrorism and domestic breast-beating over profiling, there remains that very uncivilized but as yet unsatisfied urge: revenge.

This is how Rome dealt with Carthage, and Alexander dealt with Darius. Even so, the savagery of those campaigns holds no candle to Iwo Jima or Normandy. This is the way of the world, since the dawn of recorded history until now: sometimes only savage force works.

Instead, we try to excise Taliban and Al Q’aeda leaders with drones, negotiate with unstable regimes over nuclear dreams, and posture as the global referee. We do it for all the right reasons. It is embedded in our theology, that the final reckoning belongs to God. It is embedded in our philosophy, that justice should prevail over vengeance. It is embedded in our national character, our laws, and our self-image. We seek the high ground rather than abasing ourselves to the level of our foes. We take pride in being better than our baser instincts, more restrained, more moral, more disciplined.

But are we losing the ability to tap into our very existential savagery when it is really needed? We face a world where Iran has sworn to wipe out Israel and Israel has sworn to prevent it; where India and Pakistan wait for an opening to fight; where violence has become the norm in African politics; where the two Koreas growl at each other across their own disputed barricade. In so many of these places, it is not the threat of American disapproval that restrains would-be opponents, but the threat of American military power.

It has become unfashionable to talk of hard power – soft power is so much more appealing to the civilized. Even our most recent demonstrations of military might have been tempered by our attempts to be civil about it. Our adversaries have proven that asymmetric tactics can neutralize our much-vaunted technology and confound our much-cherished organizational habits. Only the bad guys talk of “unconditional surrender” any more.

But we are being fundamentally dishonest if we do not admit to our fundamental nature. While building schools and nations are good and righteous tasks, no amount of new schools will account for the thousands who died in two of the greatest cities of the world eight years ago. The decimation in Iraq of the Al Q’aeda rank-and-file may help, but it doesn’t close the book on the madmen who dreamed of bringing our nation to its knees. The cool discipline of diplomacy may win us friends, but it does little to make our enemies fear and avoid us.

I once asked one of the ceremonial guards at the Tower in London how he earned the right to be the cool and unflappable face of the Crown. “By killing the Queen’s enemies,” he replied simply. It reminded me that beneath the costumes, the pageantry, and the manners of every successful culture, there is still the need to convincingly dole out a day of deadly reckoning to ones enemies.

We should finish that job before we are forced to start another one.

= = = = = = = = = = =

David J. Aland is a retired Naval Officer with a graduate degree in National Security Affairs from the U. S. Naval War College.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 8thanniversary; 911; eighthanniversary; lessons; osama; warfare

1 posted on 09/11/2009 8:03:29 AM PDT by SpareChange
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To: SpareChange

Well written and on target. Thank you for posting - and thanks to you for your service.-—JM


2 posted on 09/11/2009 8:06:14 AM PDT by Jubal Madison (Sic Semper Tyrannis)
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To: SpareChange

“Bring me the head of Osama Bin Laden” Yes. I still want that head. On a Crusader’s pike. I want his followers blown to smithereens. I want all who sympathize with his cause made to leave my country — and all Western countries. I want everyone in the world to recognize Islam for the evil that it is and that it brings.


3 posted on 09/11/2009 8:10:08 AM PDT by La Lydia
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To: SpareChange

I know it’s not right, but when I go back and watch the towers being hit, the people choosing to plummet to their death rather than being burned to death, hear the radio chatter of the terrorists that day, I just want to nuke the whole Muslim Middle East.

That’s my reaction and of course it’s extreme but 8 years later, I still feel that way. Islam has declared war on the West...and it’s not like they’ve hidden this fact. We haven’t taken it seriously enough...and it will be even less serious under Obambi.


4 posted on 09/11/2009 8:10:31 AM PDT by Slapshot68
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To: SpareChange

I learned that our leadership were a bunch of “gutless wonders”. Even calling islime a “religion of peace”! Give me a break, read the koran, it is barbaric to say the least.


5 posted on 09/11/2009 8:13:45 AM PDT by RoshYisrael
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To: Slapshot68

I hope that there are more like you who realize the satanic evil of the koran and it’s billions of followers.


6 posted on 09/11/2009 8:17:33 AM PDT by RoshYisrael
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To: RoshYisrael

Before September 12, 2001 was over I was describing the moslem world as a continuum, with the likes of atta, et al, on one end and the kindliest little old gramma and grampa on the other. What they have in common is the venom of islam and the slop bucket which contains it, the koran. Until islam is destroyed, who knows when that will be, it will remain a poison which threatens its neighbors with death.


7 posted on 09/11/2009 8:29:40 AM PDT by RobinOfKingston (Democrats, the party of evil. Republicans, the party of stupid.)
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To: SpareChange
Not exactly the notion of a civilized man.

This is precisely the notion of a Civilized Man. It's exactly what every single Civilized person should aspire to and you should make no apologies for it.

Wanting mad dogs in our midst put down without mercy or remorse is completely logical, moral, and ethical.

To think otherwise is completely irrational.

I want Bin Ladens head on a spike at Ground Zero. I want the guy who cooked Bin Ladens breakfast head on a spike. I want the guy who cooked THAT guys breakfast dead, too.

I want OBL's entire line wiped from the face of the earth. I want his wives dead. I want his kids dead. I want his frigging goldfish dead.

Until rational, civilized people start exterminating these cockroaches our society will be dealing with the dead they leave in their wake for decades to come.

So snap out of it man. Wanting OBL's head on a platter is prima facie evidence of your being a very Civilized person.

Best.

L

8 posted on 09/11/2009 8:36:31 AM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: SpareChange
If this country had any balls the capitals of the 4 great terrorist supporting nations, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan should have been glowing craters on 9/12. And also let them know that after the next attack Mecca is gone.

You cut of their funding by separating dictators from their Swiss bank accounts and their lives.

9 posted on 09/11/2009 11:52:52 AM PDT by Bookie1066 (It's not going to be Atlas Shrugged but Atlas Shot Back.)
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To: RobinOfKingston

Right on!!!


10 posted on 09/11/2009 9:52:50 PM PDT by RoshYisrael
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