As we move toward Thanksgiving I would like to reflect back by linking to an OpEd by Washington Post Columnist George Will. This column, discussing the tenth anniversary of 9/11, opens up some questions, but I would hope, gives us a chance to talk about where we have been and where we are going.
Choices were made after 9/11. Some of them were good and some were bad. I suspect some of the good ones look bad in retrospect. Some of the bad ones may now look good. and the mix continues.
President George W Bush telling us to all go shop was probably a good decision, as the economy suffered a major shock on 9/11. In some ways it sent bad signals, like we didn't have to worry about the cost of the war, but in others ways it stabilized the economy.
Going into Iraq, while filled with hope that Iraq would become another democracy, like Italy, Germany and Japan after World War Two, turned out to be a bad idea. One of the problems with war is that the outcome can never be guarantees, even when big nations pick on small ones. Very high probability is not certitude.
Moving to smack down al Qaeda and the Taliban was a good idea. Hanging around to do nation building may have been a bad choice, although finally tracking down Osama bin Laden made it feel like a good decision. Sadly, there is no way of telling. And, if you are of a mind to right all the world's wrongs, then Afghanistan would be a good place to start, given how the rulers were treating women and religious minorities.
But, the past is past and we have to think of the future. We need to inspire out children with a vision of a better world. But, what is that better world? I don't think it is one where the US will be the sole superpower, telling everyone else what to do. But, it will be one where we cooperate with other big players and achieve good things—or not.
One thing I hope the future is not is a time when we jettison friends for the sake of living in peace ourselves, while other suffer from our decisions. There needs to be a moral dimension to what we do. Someone recently suggested, on the pages of The New York Times, that we jettison Taiwan for a reduction of our debt to China. That would be a case of a decision bad on moral grounds.
Let us reflect this week on who we are and where we are going.
And a Happy Thanksgiving, in case I forget to say it on Thursday.
Regards — Cliff