Will We Prove Worthy?

By Ari Bussel

There is a generation that understands the term “dodging the draft.” A war raged, far away from America’s shores, and many were convinced we should not be involved. Those were the days of flowers, peace, drugs and free love. War did not fit into this lifestyle.

Decades passed. More wars were fought, in Iraq then in Afghanistan. The American resolve that was ironclad ten years ago weakened with the passage of time from the attacks on U.S. soil. The reason for going to war in 2003 against Saddam Hussein—as crazy and cruel as he was to his people—proved nonexistent, and so a shaky belief in military intervention dwindled even further.

Afghanistan was an even tougher sell. It is further away, and we are fighting in the mountains against an enemy that is predominantly invisible to us, lives in caves and acts like animals, thirsts for blood (and quite successful in quenching its thirst by murdering young American soldiers) and exhibits cruelty without bounds. Many Americans are unwilling to even attempt to understand why are we there and what might be the implications otherwise.

Now that Osama Bin Laden was captured and executed in Pakistan, after living a very comfortable life, equipped with porn movies and a full entourage of servants, we were served further proof that the excursions of American forces into Afghanistan are not only ineffective, they are meaningless and purposeless. Gone is the main excuse for being there in the first place.

President Obama promised to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he is making good on his election promise. Americans are thrilled: Let us get out of there quickly, for it is not our business. Let us close our eyes, shut them forcefully, cover our ears with our hands and ignore the world or the consequences of our actions. After all, even Russia left there.

We are the Masters of the Universe. With our eyes in the skies we can see a pin from the distance of thousands of miles in space. With our precision-guided missiles we can hit anyone. Why endanger the lives of our young men and women, most cannot fathom.

Well, our eyes in the skies and assets on the ground were ineffective for ten years in finding Osama Bin Laden. Our guided missiles seem only good for destroying and murdering innocent people in Libya while Gaddafi – alive and well and promising revenge – keeps lecturing the American President who wants nothing less than to see him dead.

The players change, so do the decorations, but the essence is still the same. President Bush’s pursuit of Saddam Hussein was clearly similar in many respects to Peace Laureate Obama’s current quest to kill Gaddafi. One slight difference exists, however: The United States of America has no right to target sovereign rulers because the President does not like them or acts without regard to the Constitution or obligation to Congress.

The same advocates for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, experts of foreign diplomacy and advisors on foreign policy who whisper to the President, do not understand the world. They think that withdrawing to the United States will protect us; the world will leave us alone.

If only they looked at the example of Israel, that left Lebanon only to see a foreign element take over, arm itself with tens of thousands of missiles, build underground bunkers and communication and a control infrastructure and ready itself for war. Or Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in summer, 2005, that brought about an area controlled by terrorism. Or even the anticipated relinquishing of the West Bank, turning Judea and Samaria into the next Hamastan.

The fate of the USA will be no different. If we do not fight our enemies wherever they are, we will end up having to defend our country from right here at home, as on September 11th, 2001, and that task is always the inferior position.

These advocates, critics of President Bush, the Republicans and anything that smells “military,” do not care about the young men and women so gallantly ready to sacrifice their lives so we can all continue our daily lives. “They” go on one tour of duty after another, leaving spouses, parents and children at home, while we remain oblivious to their sacrifices.

“They” experience posttraumatic stress disorders and nightmares that appear uninvited for the rest of their lives. They return home, unable to adjust back to “normalcy,” when everything looks so different. Many of “them” were killed there, in fierce fighting, by roadside bombs or homicide bombings. Their memories remain with those closest, but for the rest of us, their sacrifice is distant, foreign.

So we want out— but for all the wrong reasons. We want to go our merry ways and ignore the world that hates us.

We vote for a President who makes things worse bowing to those who interpret his actions as weakness. He dumps decades-long loyal allies in favor of what, of whom? No one knows, but the world sees and internalizes.

Our position keeps deteriorating, and the hatred that engulfs the world becomes more pronounced, as the American President decides to oust one ruler, instructs another to leave and threatens a third with departure or death. It is his way or the coffin option, and Gaddafi laughs. Strict obedience or we will act, he threatens, as he positions American assets as a show of force, and Assad continues his crack down on his people and Iran promises a protective umbrella of missiles aimed at Israel and the United States.

For decades we have had no draft in the United States. What if one becomes necessary? Can we rise to the task? Will we live up to the ideal “Ask not what your country can do for you?”

We have not done well treating our young men and women in the military, and their families, with the respect they deserve for enabling us to continue our lives uninterrupted. Will we find the courage, strength and conviction, not to mention the will and character to do what is necessary if circumstances dictate that the nation as a whole be drafted into war mode?

As I look around, I view little evidence America will be able to work as one toward survival. Happily, this was unnecessary during most of our lifetimes. The splits and incivility between us now is palpable. We are spoiled, lazy, and refuse to fathom that life may require the unexpected of us.

All that is needed is for us to change our outlook, start treating those in the armed forces with the respect they deserve. This will be a good, first step, and it must be initiated on our own volition. It would be sad if the unification and appreciation came a posteriori at the price of another attack on our own soil.