Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Considering Syria on the anniversary of 911

Photo courtesy

I love America.  I believe in the old red, white and blue, but something didn’t feel right.

It was the day after those planes landed in the World Trade Center and sent the buildings tumbling killing 2,996 people.  It was one of those days you will never forget.  You can’t forget.  There is no way to forget.

I was driving East on Angier Avenue waiting for the stop light at the intersection of Angier and Driver Street to turn green.  I turned the radio to 107.1, Foxy 107, to listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  I needed some comedy relief to prepare me for another long day of serving people with a myriad of problems.

What I heard wasn’t funny.

Tom Joyner told the story of the planes crashing into the building.  It was a somber moment that forced me to pull off the road as my heart began beating too fast to keep pace.  A list of people came to mind – people I know who worked at the World Trade Center. 

I kept listening.  The worse was still to come.  Words like terrorist attack and names like Ben Laden made it the worst day of my life.  I sat frozen in front of the Orange Grove Missionary Baptist Church for more than 30 minutes after finding the strength to drive the rest of the way.

What followed was a national response that swung between national pride and the desire for revenge.  I didn’t know how to feel.  I was much too vulnerable to trust what came out of my mouth.  None of us knew what to feel, think or do.  So, we found a symbol to purify rage and stir hope.

We picked up the American flag.

What an amazing symbol of solidarity and strength.  It was a statement of pride and determination that offered what the nation needed as we all pondered the next step.  But, was it enough?  Could we trust a response that pitted America against the rest of the world?

Was it appropriate to limit our voice to the lyrics of “God Bless America”?  What about the rest of the world?  Was there room in the national vocabulary for banter that included the human conditions of people around the world?  Was the bombing of the World Trade Center more than a symbol of American pain, or was it a reminder that Americans are susceptible to the type of agony that hounds people around the world?

Was 911 Americas wake-up call after decades of living with the assumption of security?  Had we taken too much for granted?  If so, was the waving of the flag our way of reminding the world that America will repay those who stab us in the back when we least expect being attacked?

Much has been learned since 911.  We learned there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Many are willing to concede we went to war against the wrong enemy.  The war on Iraq accelerated national debt that led to a major financial crisis.  The war in Iraq forced a regrouping of the Taliban inside Pakistan.  Afghanistan troops led numerous offenses against the Taliban but failed to defeat them.  By 2009, a Taliban led government began to form in Afghanistan with a mediation court.

Then came the Arab Spring.  A wave of riots, and civil wars in the Arab world began on December 18, 2010. Rulers were forced out of power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Civil uprisings erupted in Bahrain and Syria with major protest in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan.  Minor protests have occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara and the Palestinian Authority.

The Arab spring is prompted by dissatisfaction with local governments reflected in wide gaps in income levels, dictatorship, human rights violations, political corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty and increasing food prices.

In April 2011, the Syrian Army was deployed to quell the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country.  After months of military sieges, the protests evolved into an armed rebellion. Opposition forces are composed of defected soldiers and civilian volunteers. In 2013 Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian army. The Syrian government is further upheld by military support from Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia transfer weapons to the rebels.

Estimates of deaths in the conflict range from 83,260 and 110,370.

Enter the United States.  Congress in considering entering a war against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad killed more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children in an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.

Is this time to wave the American flag?

It’s dreadful watching people die.  We all want this war to end.  The site of children dying due to the exposure of chemical weapons is horrific.  We all want to see it stop.

But the larger question for Americans is how many innocent people will die if we bomb Syria.  Is the potential for greater damage possible after the launching of bombs aimed at helping rebels end the reign of the Ba'ath Party?

Today is the anniversary of 911.  What have we learned since that day?

I’ve learned an important lesson.  When you decide to get in a fight, be sure it’s the right fight.

Otherwise you end up making matters worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment