Where have all the heroes gone? – Amanda S. Green
I have been sitting here, staring at the computer screen, trying to find the words for my feelings in the aftermath of what happened in Brussels. Oh, the immediate reaction is easy. Disbelief followed by anger mixed with a large dose of concern and sympathy for those impacted by what happened. Then, as the stories continued to roll in, other emotions came. With it all comes the understanding that the time has finally come for us to realize that we can’t continue to play by the rules of civilized warfare because the enemy is using our own ethics, for lack of a better word, against us.
For years, decades even, many in our country and in our government have operated under the belief that war is something that can be waged by following the rules. They want it to be clean, with no collateral damage. That is a grand idea and one I could get behind – if the other side agreed. Unfortunately, as we have seen time and time again, that isn’t the case. We try to use surgical strikes to avoid destroying non-military facilities and avoid civilian casualties. The enemy, knowing this, hides in mosques and churches, homes and schools. They use civilians as their shields, knowing our citizens won’t put up with “unnecessary” civilian deaths.
We have watched as our citizens have been targeted overseas. We have seen in living color the attacks on Paris and now Brussels. How many other attacks have there been? I don’t know. Our media doesn’t report it all. It doesn’t fit the narrative, especially not during an election year. Most especially not when our President is making his so-called historic visit to Cuba.
I cringed when, as news was still coming in on the bombings in Brussels, the media talked about how President Obama was not going to cut his visit to Cuba short. In fact, at that time, he was still scheduled to watch a baseball game between a Cuban team and an American one. I’ll even admit to not knowing if he kept to that schedule. Why? Because the thought of him sitting there watching a baseball game when our allies were under what could only be called attack made me sick to my stomach.
How long are we going to sit back and watch, telling ourselves that the battle isn’t going to come to us? How long will we continue to delude ourselves by saying that all we need to do is listen to why ISIS hates us so much? After all, to hear some of our fellow countrymen talk, the real responsibility for all this ill will falls directly at our own feet. Funny how there are always those singing that song until the shit hits the fan right outside their door. Then they are crying for the rest of us to step up and protect them. That is exactly what will happen here if we don’t find a way to end the war before it gets any worse.
One of the comments I heard in response to the attack came from Donald Trump. Now, as those of you who have read my previous posts here know, I’m not a big Trump fan. Hearing his response to the attack on Brussels had me, initially at least, cringing and telling myself that his comments were exactly why I don’t want him to be president.
“You know, we work within laws. They don’t work within laws — they have no laws. We work within laws. The waterboarding would be fine, and if they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding,” he said.
My first reaction was probably similar to what many of you had to that comment. I cringed and said to myself that we couldn’t allow ourselves to become like the enemy. We are better than them. Just as our Constitution has provisions against cruel and unusual punishment for criminals, those same protections should apply to those who are enemies of our country.
The good part of me says “right”. But the other part, the part that watches the enemy attack civilian targets without compunction, the part that knows my son and so many other mother’s sons and daughters are in harm’s way because of ISIS and their allies, says maybe not. Maybe that old adage “All’s fair in love and war” is right.
Still, I am conflicted. My brain tells me that is what the enemy is wants. It wants us doubting our approach to them. It wants us second guessing what our government and our military does – or might do. In short, it wants our doubts to hamstring any quick and decisive response we might have to them.
Hell, it is something they have successfully done for years. We did not finish the job with Operation Enduring Freedom. We didn’t finish the job with Operation Desert Storm. We sure as hell aren’t finishing the job now.
Let’s be honest. We haven’t “finished the job” since World War II. I can understand Korea. Our country was exhausted, our resources stretched then by World War II and just a few years after we found ourselves in Korea. Vietnam? I’m not sure we ever had a battle plan for success there. Add in the fact the media was sending daily updates that we could watch at our dinner tables, as well as there had been little down time from Korea and, well, we had a recipe for anything but winning.
Now we are fighting an enemy that won’t be satisfied until we are dead. Not just our leaders. Not just our military. All of us. How long is it going to take us to wrap our heads around the fact there is no negotiation with a zealot? There is fight back, fight hard and fight to win.
But that doesn’t mean I believe we need to round up every person who has come here from a predominantly Islamic country. Nor does it mean we round up every follower of the Islamic faith. That would be just as wrong as it was when, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, our government rounded up the Japanese-Americans and put them in camps.
It does mean, however, tightening our borders – all our borders. It means reviewing our immigration rules and doing a better job at vetting everyone coming in. It means increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and giving them the authority to actually stop and arrest anyone they find coming over illegally.
It also means remembering who our allies are. Kissing up to certain leaders in the Middle East and Africa has done nothing that I can see to help keep our country and its citizens safe. In fact, it has done just the opposite. The enemy has seen our president bowing to those who hate us. They have seen our government turn its back on allies like Israel because a potential ally – pardon me while I laugh hysterically – might be insulted by our continued association with Israel. We have walked the path the enemy has set for us, never really striking back and never finishing what we start.
At least that is how it seems from the outside looking in.
Now I find myself remembering the 1980 presidential election. I had no love lost for President Carter. I’d watched, along with so many others, as he sat on his hands while our people, and our allies, were held hostage by Iran. Oh, I know negotiations were going on behind the scenes but what sort of lesson did that teach the Iranians? The answer is simple – we would rather try to talk our way out of a bad situation even if doing so makes the situation worse in the long run.
Not that I had much more confidence in what Ronald Reagan could do. I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about the former actor turned politician. I knew he had been governor of California. I’ll even admit, I wasn’t that impressed. I’m a Texas girl after all and I knew even then that California was much more liberal than my beloved home state. So could Reagan, even though he was a Republican, be the conservative – or, even better, libertarian – that we needed?
What quickly became apparent was that our allies liked his plain speaking and our enemy quickly came to realize that he meant what he said. We may never know all the discussion that went behind Iranian doors before they decided to release the hostages before Reagan could take action. My gut tells me that they were scared to death about what the Cowboy President might do.
Which brings me to Trump. I’m still not a fan. Far from it. But I have to wonder if he would put the fear of God into the hearts of our enemy. He certainly scares some of our allies – which is not a good thing.
There’s a song by Bonnie Tyler called “I Need a Hero”. Right now, I’m asking myself the same questions she asks in the song but about our national leaders. I know where the real heroes are. They are in our military and serving in other positions that help keep our country safe. Unfortunately, their hands are tied all too often by the “civilized war” requirements the pols and the vocal minority place upon them.
It is time for each of us to wake up and, whether we like it or not, admit that the war has come. It might not be taking place each day on our shores but we are no longer an isolated nation. Technology and advances in transportation have seen to that. What happens in Europe impacts what happens here and vice versa. We can no longer afford to sit back and shake our heads in sorrow as our European allies are attacked. We can no longer extend an olive branch and watch it be batted away, telling ourselves that if we try again maybe, just maybe it will be accepted next time.
As I sit here looking at the framed memorial document hanging on my den wall that recounts my Great-great grandfather’s Civil War battle history, I have to admit that we are at war once again. Our government might not want to admit it. Our President might prefer making his “historical” trek to Cuba rather than deal with the realities of what is happening around us. But the truth is there and it is time we all recognized it.
The question we have to ask ourselves is how we are going to respond. Are we going to sit back and wait until the battle lines are in our own backyards or are we going to demand our government finally stand up and once again prove the United States deserves to be called the Leader of the Free World? I don’t know about you but I’m hoping for the latter. That means making sure we have men and women on Capital Hill after the election who will stand up to whoever our new president is and demand the country no longer sit back, waiting like the lamb to the slaughter.