Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Global War on Terror

On Feb 10, 2003 my mother sent out this email. I normally don't reply to her ranting emails but this one just hit me wrong and I started a reply. It took me two days to put this reply together. Then I broke a personal rule of mine and clicked on the "reply to all" button and sent it out.

Now two and a half years later I still see and hear a lot of people ranting and raving about this 'illegal war'. So I figured I'd just post my mother's original e-mail and my reply.

Dear friends and relations, I got this today, and I pray everyday, we will not go to war, for all the normal reasons, but mostly for two very selfish reasons. I have two grandsons who preregistered for the military before this threat, and the thought of them as moving targets is really hard on grandma and grandpa. Christopher signed up for the navy and leaves for basic the end of June, and then 32 weeks of school, so we will have a little more than nine months of him, safely attending school. Adam signed up for the Marines, to leave the end of October, now they are pushing him for July, he wants to stick to the original October agreement, but our worst nightmare is that after basic, he will be a convenient moving target -- they need a lot of them and we don't want our grandson's in this nightmare of killing our sons and fathers and grandchildren. I don't have a solution, but I wish my grandson's would have chosen a different post high school path, just too high a price for an education, there are other ways of funding it. Well, off my soap box, but wanted to encourage everyone to pray for no war so our grandson's and millions of others would not have to die.

I respect and share my parents concerns for the welfare of my nephews. Yes the military can be a dangerous career choice. But these days just being an American is a dangerous life choice.

My mother has asked you to pray for no war. Instead I’m asking you to pray that my nephews stay safe. The difference being that like so many individuals in this country my folks don’t seem to realize that the war has already started. As Americans we have been under attack by terrorists since 1975. Between 1975 and September 10, 2001, approximately 700 Americans have been killed in car bombings, suicide bombings, drive-by shootings and assassinations. Many of the deceased were members of our military who were stationed abroad. But many of them were diplomats or private citizens who committed no more heinous crime than to be born American.

Then on September 11, 2001 the worldwide terrorist organization Al-Qaeda brought the war that had been going on for years overseas to New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. Another 3000 Americans died that day. In the eyes of our enemies, those innocent civilians were sacrificed on the altar of islamoterrorist hatred for committing the most horrific crime of all - they exercised their freedom to get up, leave their homes and families and go to work.

Until the 9/11 attacks the United States’ responses to the random and unwarranted attacks on Americans had been to complain diplomatically, maybe shoot a few cruise missiles into some abandoned desert locations, and then memorialize and bury our dead. We chose to ignore that fact that we were under attack on a worldwide level and we went on with our safe little lives misguidedly secure in the fact that the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans would protect us.

Unfortunately some people seemed to forget that our government is a Constitutional Democratic Republic - “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Therefore an attack against any American is an attack against our government, and any attack against our government is an attack against every man woman and child in this country. This is exactly the reason that several terrorist organizations have giving for attacking civilian populations in Israel and the United States instead of the respective militaries of those two democracies. They claim that since Israel and the United States are Democracies their citizens are accountable for the actions of their governments. And it is therefore OK to attack the civilian population. I say that if this is the reasoning they want to use to justify their cowardly acts of terrorism then they should not be too surprised when the civilian population fights back by supporting our government when they mobilize the full might and power of the United States military and order them to eliminate this threat to our lives and our freedom.

We have been at war for over a quarter century. We have just refused to admit it to ourselves. But rest assured, the enemy knew it. It took a catastrophe like 9/11 to convince the people of this country and our elected leaders that we are in a war against an enemy that will not go away just because we don’t understand why they hate us.

On September 20, 2001 our president while addressing a join session of congress had these words to say:

“Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

That is the very heart of this conflict. We are already at war, and that war will not go away if we just pray about it hard enough. The Islamic God Allah, the Jewish God of Abraham, and the Christian God, the father of Jesus are all the same deity. Our enemy is praying just as hard to the same God that we pray to, asking him to wipe every single human being who believes in freedom off the face of this planet. But they are not content to sit by and wait for God to answer their prayers; they are actively prosecuting a war of fear, hatred, deceit and murder. It’s time for us to augment our prayers with the same determination and strength of will to defend ourselves against this terrorist threat.

The days of facing an army of well-armed well-trained soldiers who wore uniforms, followed orders, and prosecuted their war against the United States military are gone. The cold war days of mutually assured destruction as a deterrent are also gone. We now face an enemy that is well-trained, well-armed and well-funded. But this enemy does not make war against the military of the United States, they make war against every man, woman and child in this country. We’re engaged in a fight against an enemy that will kill indiscriminately. Our enemy will hide themselves and their weapons in schools, churches and hospitals. They will surround themselves with children and shoot at armed troops. Then when the armed troops return fire they will scream to the world that we are baby killers. Our enemy would rather attack innocent civilians than our military, because the military shoots back. Civilians just die, sometimes by the thousands.

We face an enemy that will use any weapon, and advantage to hurt us. Can we do anything less to protect ourselves? We face an enemy that won’t be frightened off with threats or shows of force. They can only be defeated by the total destruction of their militant leadership, their mind warping teachings, and the complete dismantlement of the repressive governments that support them. Killing Usama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein won’t end this war, but it will be a good first step. This war will only end when all the terrorists who started and continue it are dead. It will only end when the governments that support, supply and harbor these animals have been replaced with a government that will respect the individual rights of all the world’s citizens. A government that will encourage their citizens to develop their nation, to protect their families, and to live free and pursue happiness.

When people only live to kill or destroy that which confuses or scares them then they aren’t living at all. The terrorists want nothing more than the total destruction of our way of life. We want nothing more than for every human being on this planet to have the same basic freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we enjoy. The difference between us is that the terrorists believe that they should spread their philosophy by creating terror, murder and destruction. We believe that we should spread our philosophy with diplomacy, example and aide. But when faced with death and destruction we will defend ourselves. Praying for the war to go away is not a defense; it is only giving the terrorists more time to arrange the deaths of more innocent civilians.

My parents are afraid that my nephews are going to be turned into moving targets. Well we are all moving targets. Every time we drive on a crowded freeway, gather together to worship, get on an airplane, ride a subway, shop in supermarket or crawl out of our underground bunkers we are moving targets. Sure our children in the military are a lot more accessible to the enemy. But they are also better trained, better equipped, and more capable of defending themselves than any other group of people on this planet.

The days of civil war generals lining up tens of thousands of men and charging them on foot across open terrain to attack cannon emplacements are over. The military of yesterday often expended human life in frighten quantity to gain a strategic advantage. Today we expend smart bombs, surveillance resources, rockets, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to gain the same advantage.

I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that my nephews will be safe in the military. But they aren’t safe at home where they are right now. I don’t want my nephews to be killed in this war. But I’m damned proud that they are willing to go fight this war. I have spent my entire professional career working to better the offensive and defensive capabilities of our military. But we can only design so many smart bombs and deadly accurate long-range missiles. All the high tech weapons in the world will not win this war without the men and women of our military who are willing to put themselves on the firing line to fight for our country, our lives and our freedom.

So instead of praying for “no war so our grandson's and millions of others would not have to die.” Instead, pray that our grandsons and nephews finish this war and return home safe. The war has been going on a long time and it’s a war we can’t afford to lose. Our very existence depends on it. If the terrorist organizations and the governments that support them are not stopped then millions will die, and they will be millions of American civilians.

If you doubt for a second that any terrorist would hesitate to use a nuclear device against an American City then you should crawl back under which ever rock you have been living under for the last couple years. It may be the only place you will be safe. 9/11 had most of the Arab world dancing in the streets celebrating. Imagine how happy they will be to see mushroom clouds rising over Tel Aviv or the west coast of the United States. It’s down to do or die time folks. The terrorists have made it clear that they want nothing more than the total annihilation of the United States. While I’d like to say that we should settle for no less than the total annihilation of their organizations and the governments that support them, I can’t. Just as the world trade centers were filled with thousands of innocent civilians, so are all the countries that are supporting terrorism. So this is going to be a long war. There will be deaths on both sides. I’m confident that our military leaders will do all that is possible to minimize the loss of military life on our behalf. They will also try their best to limit the civilian casualties on the other side. War, however is war, people die on both sides.

We didn’t start this war but I hope we sure as hell finish it. The very existence of our society depends on it. This war didn’t start with the destruction of the world trade centers. It won’t end with the removal of Saddam Hussein. So pray for the safety of all our men and women in the armed services. But then get up off your knees, and tell them that you support and thank them for the job they have chosen to do. Hang a flag outside your door. Write your congressman demanding better pay, and benefits for the uniformed service, demand more support for the scientists and engineers that are developing the new weapons that will be used to defend this country. Then most importantly – live free. Be vigilant, be careful, be aware of what is going on around you, but revel in your freedom, enjoy the liberties you have. Spend each day appreciating the opportunities that exist in this country. My nephews are going to be fighting to defend your freedom. Don’t waste it, and don’t surrender it to fear and terror.

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