Twelve years ago today I was a 1st Lieutenant stationed at Fort Hood, TX. I had just walked into the intelligence section of the Division Support Command HQ when the 1st plane hit the tower. The Sergeant on duty and I both watched the news until the second plane hit, whereupon we both looked at each other and wondered out loud who we were going to war with.
And, indeed, we did go to war. We struck while the iron was hot, and did about as much damage to ourselves as we did to those who struck us. The last 12 years have radically changed America. The Patriot Act has ceded much of our Liberty in the name of ephemeral security. Our military has ground itself far beyond the razors edge, well into the spine of the blade. The force that crushed the Taliban and Saddam in days is now a superb counter-guerrilla force, but has forgotten much of what it knew of war fighting. There is a whole generation of warriors, most of whom bear the scars of war on their body and in their psych. And a whole generation of young warriors who know how to deploy to an established theater at the drop of a hat, but who have lost invaluable experience in how to train for and conduct combat operations in defense of the nation. I’m talking about young infantry and armor NCO’s who can lead patrols, who have proven themselves under fire time and again in small unit actions, but who have no idea how to act as part of a Battalion and above force to close with and destroy the enemy using combined arms.
Our economy is in a shambles. The recompense promised our veterans, civil servants and working stiffs in exchange for 20+ years of hard labor is turning into a Poe inspired pipe dream. Promises were made that cannot be kept. Mega Corporations and Big Labor have colluded at the highest levels to rob Americans of their Liberty, their property and their culture. And we, the willingly led, have surrendered these precious things for baubles and circuses in a con worthy of the rape of any indigenous culture.
Those who died on 9/11 and in the subsequent wars died for a host of inter-connected reasons. In an almost chicken and egg situation, a largely violent and medieval religion, victims of economic injustice, corporate welfare and Western imperialism struck at what once was a bastion of Freedom in a way abhorrent to the tenets of the religion against a foe that was already circling the drain of cultural rot.
We reap what we sow. 9/11 was both a reaping and a sowing. We are in a summer season, rapidly approaching fall. The crops sown on 9/11 are beginning to bear fruit in the Arab Spring, increasing tribalism, the polarization of the American public and the crushing of the world economy. There is a point, one I fear we are already past, where the end result can be changed and a bitter crop redeemed. But, History does not provide much hope.
America is as internally divided as she was in the 1850’s, maybe more so. The division is not the neat and clean division of North and South, or even the bitter division of slave vs. abolitionist. It is a street by street division of producers and consumers, pro-Liberty vs. security at any price individuals. And the boiling tension is reaching a critical mass. All that is missing is a catalyst event. If we do not pull back from the brink and find rational solutions to these problems History tells us there is only one solution. We fight it out and winner takes all. I have had this similar conversation with, literally, hundreds of individuals, the vast majority veterans. To a man and woman they have, privately, made statements that in a court of law would probably qualify as advocating armed insurrection. And the sense I have from reading the writings of the Left and talking with folks I know who hold very opposite views from me is their level of frustration is also rapidly approaching the level of violence. Certainly there is sufficient evidence of racial tension reaching a violent tipping point.
Some of my friends advocate fixing these things at the ballot box. Some will tell you the ballot box is already bought and paid for, the best you can hope for is to stock up on beans and bullets and keep your head down. And others will tell you that the very act of voting is immoral, that what you could not morally do as an individual you cannot morally vote to have the government do by proxy for you, namely use force and the threat of force to relieve an individual of their property to pay for things you cannot pay for on your own.
I find myself caught in the middle of those three positions. I simply haven’t made up my mind. What I do know is, whatever side of the current arguments you come down on, embrace them fully. Live your life with gusto, pouring out all that you have as a libation to the values, mores, customs, beliefs and desires you hold dear. I may not agree with you. It may even come down, some day, to my looking at you over the barrel of a gun. But let us not live small lives. The one thing we can truly do to honor the fallen, on all sides, is to do what they cannot. Live fully alive!