Are We Really At War?

The Bush Administration likes to remind us that we are "at war." This is usually done as a way to distract us from their unceasing efforts to expand executive power. It is also useful as a way to justify their outright lies, such as the President's Nov 1 statement that Donald Rumsfeld would remain as SecDef for two more years, when Bush knew full well at that point he was about to be replaced.

The question then arises, are "we" really at war? I think not. The President is at war. The Pentagon is at war. The soldiers in Iraq are definitely at war. Are we, as a nation, at war? No.

War is not like peace. Things change during wartime, even on the home front. Ask members of the Greatest Generation what it was like during WW2. Everyone was mobilized to help in some way, from buying war bonds to collecting scrap metal to rationing gasoline and tires. I remember looking at my dad's 1945 high school yearbook, and the main feature is ROTC. Practically every male student is pictured in uniform. They knew where they were heading after graduation.

What about now? How has YOUR life changed since 9/11? What are you and I doing differently, other than waiting in longer lines at the airport (and griping about it!) ? Answer: not much. How about our young people? Are they overcome with patriotism and lining up to enlist? No.

In fact, the opposite is more nearly true. In the weeks after 9/11, what did we all say? "If we change our lifestyle, the terrorists will have won." Our Dear Leader encouraged us to go on with our normal lives. So we did.

Here is Bush's critical mistake: instead of rallying the public, he has insulated us. He's made it easy for us all to forget what our country is facing. Then he wonders why he doesn't get more support when events turn against him.

I don't expect perfection in the war effort. No plan survives contact with the enemy, the old saying goes. Mistakes will be made at all levels. Leaders learn from their mistakes and don't make them again. Bush failed to get the nation solidly behind him, and now it's too late.

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