Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Question of National Resolve

This Saturday gives us a chance to reflect on the current condition of Americans ability to stay the course in the face of the current pounding waves of bad economic news and two war fronts that continue to bleed our nation as if a dozen leeches slowly weakened our national resolve.

Fabius Maximus with an inquiring mind offers these related posts questioning whether Americans have lost the ability to rise to the challenge when crisis looms.

This question was raised during a few rounds of cyber tennis between two experts on 4th generation warfare, Chet Richards and John Robb — posting at their websites Defense and the National Interest and Global Guerrillas. This being an open game in which any number can play, this post discusses one aspect of their debate. First, a recap of the opening rounds. These highlight only part of the debate; these posts are worth reading in full.

Read More: Are Americans easily panicked cowards? I think not, but many experts disagree.

In this next post, Fabius turns to 9/11 as an example that America's response has revealed us to be like a powerful bull, that has charged about at waving red flags, (the global war on terror) only to find ourselves pricked by the thrusts of many banderillas, that have weakened our resolve and left us weary of continuing the engagement. He questions that 9/11 revealed us to be so armored against a major threat, that when something tiny on the grand scale gets inside our armor and bits us, we react as if we were given a contagion that now threatens to cripple our national resolve.

Fab begins.

With a single strike al Qaeda changed the course of the world’s hegemonic state, by many measures the most powerful nation (relative to its time) that the world has ever seen. They did this at a negligible cost in money and manpower — never have so few changed so many with so little effort. Our counter-strikes have damaged or crippled al Qaeda, but its leaders may see al Qaeda as the vanguard of their movement, not its body — and hence expendable.

9/11 changed the course of America in terms of both internal and external policy, changing both in ways almost certainly inimical to our long-term strength and prosperity. Al Qaeda manipulated America as a matador does with a bull, waving a cape to so that the bull charges into position for the thrust of the sword.

Read More: Was 9/11 the most effective single military operation in the history of the world?

In counterpoint I offer these two posts that draw attention to American resolve. One is at the personal level and found among the men we have sent to Afghanistan to blunt the thrusts of the metaphoric AQ matador's sword.

I wholeheartedly agree with abu mugqawama's endorsement of this article in the New York Times last week. Okay, this is great reporting.

ALIABAD, Afghanistan — The two Army lieutenants crouched against boulders beside the Korangal River. Taliban gunfire poured down from villages and cliffs above, hitting tree branches and rocks and snapping as the bullets passed over the officers’ helmets.

An American platoon was pinned in the riverbed, which had blossomed into a kill zone. One squad and the radio operator were trapped in a wheat field on the far side. An improvised bomb had just exploded in their midst. The blast wave had blown the soldiers down, and, though the platoon did not yet know it, killed a soldier on the trail.

The photo essay that accompanies this article is amazing as it conveys courage under fire and then the anguish of losing a comrade

Turning our attention to American innovations that have change the world is this post by Steve DeAngelis of Enterra Solutions who expands on a recent Time Magazine article.

There is a saying in Europe about American sports that goes something like this: "When we hold a world championship, we actually invite the world." It's a reference to events like baseball's World Series. With the exception of baseball, I think Americans have become more politically correct in they how depict their sporting championships. However, a recent issue of Time Magazine, which listed "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now," makes one wonder if there really is a broader world out there. As you read through the ideas, many of them seem to ignore most of the rest of the world. There are exceptions -- ideas that have broader application -- but one can only conclude that Time's world view is fairly narrow when it comes to "world changing" ideas. The list was brought to my attention while reading Tom Barnett's Weblog. Let's look at the ideas.

Read more: Time Magazine's Small World

The posts above are offered to stimulate thoughts about America and our national resolve to embrace the future and not shrink into a corner like a wounded titan, awaiting the final thrust.

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