So writes Fouad Ajami today in the WSJ. Fouad Ajami, who I've quoted before on this site, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs and the Iraqis in Iraq". Ajami writes, "It was the furies of the Arab world, not Afghanistan that struck America 8 years ago today. The road that led to 9/11 was never a defining concern of President Obama. But he returned to 9/11 in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, AZ. on August 17. "The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't happen overnight, he said, and we won't defeat it overnight, but we must never forget: This is not a war of choice; it is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Queda could plot to kill more Americans."
Ajami writes, "This distinction by Obama of a war of choice (Iraq) and a war of necessity (Afghanistan) has become canonical to American Liberalism. That is both morally false and intellectually muddled. No philosophy of just and unjust wars will support it. It was amid the ferocious attack on the American project in Iraq that there was born the idea of Afghanistan as the 'good war'. This was the club with which the war in Iraq was battered.
President Obama and his advisers need not pay heroic tribute to the men ans women who labored before Obama's rise to power. But they have so malinged their predecessors and their motives that the appeal to 9/11 rings hollow and contrived. In those years behind us, American liberalism distanced itself from American patriotism, and the damage is there to see," writes Ajami.
Ajami continues, "Wars are great clarifiers. Obama's trumpet is uncertain. His call to arms in Afghanistan does not stir. He fears failure in in Afghanistan, and nothing more. Having disowned Iraq, kept its cause at a distance, he is forced to fight the war in Afghanistan. So he equivocates and plays for time (as a Democrat Congress continues to lose stomach over this war). Forever the campaigner, he has his eye on the public mood. the steel that his predecessor showed in 2007 when all the balance in Iraq, is not evident in Obama. In the face of a Taliban insurgency that is gaining strength and geographical read, Obama will have to make a hard choice. He needs a troop commitment of sufficient weight to turn the tide of the war. He has to face his own coalition on the left and convince them that there is a war in Afghanistan worth fighting and paying for.
This is a decision he has refused to make. He has underestimated Nato's role and the refusal of Europe; Germany and France do not have the mood to contain the insurgency, while the British appear to be on the verge of withdrawal) to do more".
Ajami concludes that "eight years ago we were rudely awakened from a decade of whose gurus and pundits had announced the end of ideology, of politics itself, ant the triumph of the world-wide Web and the 'electronic herd'. We had discovered that on the other side of the world masterminds of terror, and preachers, and their foot-soldiers were telling of America the most sordid of tales. We had become, without knowing it, a party to the civil wars in the Islamic-Arab world between the autocrats and their disaffected children, between the those who want to live a normal live and warriors of the faith bent on imposing their will on that troubled area of geography.
Our country answered that call, not always brilliantly, (that is for sure, my quotes) for we are fated to be strangers in that world and thus fated to improvise and and make our way through unfamiliar alleys. We met chameleons and hustlers of every shade and had to learn in a hurry, incomprehensible atavisms and pathologies. We fared best when we trusted our sense of things. We certainly haven't been kept safe by the crowds in Paris and Berlin, or by those in Ankara and Cairo who feign desire for our friendship while they yearn for our undoing".
These are excerpts from Ajami's lengthy column but I believe I have made his point. Obama is "between a rock and a hard spot" and it while take all his charisma to fulfill all his promises to the pacifists without risking failure in a war he feels it is necessary to continue to some reasonable success with an "acceptable" risk of American lives and the ones who desperately seek relatively basic freedoms.
I have never been a neo-con. But once our leadership committed our armed services to these distant shores, (now getting closer) I have never wavered in support of all forces involved in what is now surely a battle for the survival of the basic freedoms, most people seek.
As a reminder, my wife and I were in Arlington, V.A. and Washington D.C. on 9/11. I saw the American Airlines plane change direction and set the throttle at full speed, angling away from the White House or Capitol towards the Pentagon. I saw no landing gear extended. From 300 yards, I could visualize the passengers, terrified and alive only to be dead with less than two minutes. My wife was on a tour bus and saw the explosion.
Many wars have been waged by this young country; wars in what those we elected believed were "just wars". That some were poorly handled, most agree. Only history will write the final verdicts of "just wars" in years upcoming. That sacrifices by so many are greatly regretted. My First Cousin, Richard Witzig, from Goodfield, Illinois was KIA in WW11. He died in a war "to end all wars". Unfortunately, that day never came and most likely, never will. A belief that most of us have who read extensively and try to keep up with past and present history.
Richard Witzig will always be remembered by some who still are alive. His relatives are mainly dead. Dead of old age due to his and so many others, sacrifices. Sacrifices that should never be forgotten. There is a plaque in his honor on the Peoria Courthouse Square along with the names of many others.
Let us never forget. There are a large number of people in the world who wish us and other we support; to be dead. This nation must be ever vigilant and always remember that wanting peace and having peace require more than "making nice" to everybody in the world.