Five years after Pearl Harbor, the United States was already engaged in the rebuilding of Japan. Five years after 9/11, our troops are refereeing a bloody internal war in Iraq between Sunnis, Shiites, and assorted terrorist groups; the Taliban is reemerging in Afghanistan; and Osama bin Laden? He's become the ultimate boogeyman, more useful to this administration as a living symbol for the bad guys than as a dead enemy leader.
So how did we overcome the massed armies, navies, and air forces of the original "axis of evil" -- Japan, Germany, and Italy -- in four years? And how is it that we have become embroiled in a seemingly endless battle against scattered terrorists using car bombs, IEDs, and machine guns? The differences in the two conflicts are many, but primarily I think it's a matter of how we've defined the enemy -- and how we've chosen our battles.
The president keeps saying we have to win the "war on terror." But as so many have written, terrorism is a tactic, and as such is no more beatable than would be a "war on kidnapping" or a "war on mugging." To extend the analogy, invading and overthrowing the government of a country that endorsed kidnapping would do nothing to prevent a kidnapping from happening in Millington.
The "enemy" is not terror. It is those who use terrorism as a tactic -- the loosely organized and diverse radical groups operating in dozens of countries around the world. I have no doubt that terrorist cells are working in this country right now and that we should be "fighting them here" rather than overextending our forces and resources "over there."
Vice President Cheney this week charged that critics of the administration's policies were giving comfort to our enemies. And President Bush once again threw out the specter of 9/11 to reinforce his belief that we need to "stay the course" in Iraq -- apparently no matter how long that might take or how many Americans die in the process.
I think most Americans now believe we need a fresh approach and that staying the course that got us into this mess is no longer -- if it ever was -- the country's best option. In any war, it's important to know how to choose your battles. This administration has chosen poorly, over and over again.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
So, Memphis has a new mayor-elect. While many people were surprised at last week's election results, those with access to various local political insiders were not. Polling numbers had been bandied about sotto voce for weeks, numbers that suggested Jim Strickland had a substantial lead over two-term incumbent A C Wharton. But none of the polling numbers I heard suggested a result in which Strickland would basically double Wharton's percentage of the total vote ...