Monday, May 2, 2011

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

There will be very few tears shed over the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Bin Laden was, in the end, a cowardly "warrior" who hid behind high walls and human shields, using couriers to spread his message of hate and violence.  Like some creepy James Bond villain, he wielded his powers of influence to convince others to his bidding in his name.  At heart, an evil man for whom any means justified his ends.

However, that does not excuse us, as Americans, from our failure to understand what those ends might be and to evaluate, objectively, the reasonableness of those ends.  Our failure to engage the Middle East as anything other than a Jewish retirement community surrounded by gas stations run by hostile Arabs is at least partially responsible for bin Laden and Al Qaeda.  We simply assumed that because the means were evil, then the ends must be evil as well.  That is not always the case.

It is time for us to face up to the fact that we, America, created bin Laden as a warrior to battle our foe the USSR in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980s.  We armed him, we trained him and we are ultimately responsible for making him what he was.  That certainly does not abrogate him from his responsibilities in promoting worldwide jihad terrorism, but it should force us to re-examine our own foreign policy process and objectives.

Let us rejoice today as we turn the page on Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, but let us reflect upon the road that we took as a nation to get to this day.  $2 trillion in war costs, an illegal prison, torture, abuse, suppression of freedoms and a political climate of hostility and fear.  These will be the lasting legacies of the 9/11 attacks.

And let us never forget our culpability for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let us learn from these 10 years of war.

Let us learn Peace.

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