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Thoughts

My personal thoughts and feelings on what has happened to our country are ones of disbelief and pain as I'm sure many of you have the same feelings.  I am extremely proud of how every American has come together.  I've never seen so much patronage, caring, or support in my whole life.  I'm proud of all of the rescue workers, volunteers and our leaders!  I thank you all for your hard work and dedication.
Recently someone suggested in my guest book that I add some of my own feelings which I've done above.  But, here are some more of my feelings...
What is the world coming to?  We don't see terrorism in the United States like this.  Now we have armed guards at our airports, just like you see on TV.  It's sad to think that we have to live like this now, but it is terrorism and it is very real.  Now, we are talking war.  Is this going to be WW3?  Is this what the Holy Bible talks about in Revelations?  Is this the end of days?  I guess we are about to find out.  Make your peace with God now before it's too late; whoever God may be to you!

                                                                                           

    God bless America.  A land of democracy.  A place where we are free.  A place that's endured a tragedy.
    God bless America and those who have passed.  God bless the people of New York.  It has all happened so fast.
    God bless America, as we try to put our feelings into words.  With images so shocking, the mind can't comprehend.
    God Bless America, a land with people who are so giving, where people are risking their lives to save their friends and perfect strangers.
    God bless America, whose people won't allow terrorists to destroy our country and our spirit.
~author unknown


       

The following is a letter that I received the day after the attack.  Obviously, it was somebody's thought and I'm sure every American has felt this way....


September 12, 2001
     Dear Osama Bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and Sadam Hussein, et. al.,
    We are pleased to announce that we unequivocally accept your challenge to an old-fashioned game of whoop-ass.
    Now that we understand the rule, that there are no rules, we look forward to playing by them for the first time.  Since this game is a winner-take-all, we unfortunately are unable to invite you to join us at the victory celebration.  But rest assured that we will toast you --LITERALLY!
    While we will admit that you are off to an impressive lead, it is however now our turn at the plate.  
    By the way, we will be playing on your court now.  Batter up.
Sincerely, the 270,000,000 citizens of the United States of America.
~author unknown






United we stand
Not tolerating violence
Intelligent leaders
Takes a stand
Excellent place to live
Demanding justice

Serves its people
Truly the best
Appreciates cultural and religious differences
Teaches and promotes peace
Extremely helpful to those in need
Strong minds and kind hearts


This letter is not about the politics of what has happened and why, but a militarist's perspective on what we might expect.  I am writing this to you only in the interest of preparedness.  For my dear friends on the political Left and the political Right and everyone in the middle, this is a time of deep soul-searching for all of us as we seek a way to work together for the common good.

Dear friends and fellow Americans,

Like everyone else in this country, I am reeling from last week's attack on our sovereignty.  But unlike some, I am not reeling from surprise.
As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it.  This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers.
Let me briefly explain.

In spit of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics.  To dismiss them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes.  This attack was committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary.

Don't take this the wrong way.  I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I respect their capabilities.  The many parallels that have been made with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos.  Not only because it was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with the formidable Japanese in the years following WWII.

These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not underestimate the power of their moral commitment.  Napoleon, perhaps the world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated "the moral is to the physical as three is to one."  Patton thought the Frenchman underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times more important in battle than physical strength.  Our enemies are willing - better said anxious - to give their lives for their cause.  How committed are we America?  And for how long?

In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and surprise.  When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me.  This was not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military competence to be displayed in the battle to come.

This war will escalate, with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' US of A.  These men will not go easily into the night.  They do not fear us.  We must not fear them.  In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world's only "superpower" (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight.  As you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously trained for the battle ahead.  To be certain, our soldiers are much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent "counter terrorist" organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield seizures, or the occasional "body snatch," (which may come in handy).  We will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man.

Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time-consuming. They have already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the lives of everyday citizens.  Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked out.  For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and presided over by men and women who grew up with - and were promoted because they excelled in - Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics.  This will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear "centers of gravity" to strike with high technology weapons.  Our vast technological edge will certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive.  Perhaps the perfect metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft - this will be a knife fight, and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software of smart bombs.  We must also be patient with our military leaders.

Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it.  They plan to fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the American public loses its will to fight.  This might be difficult to believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight.  We need only look as for back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America without ever winning a major tactical battle.

American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned.  Although we hope that Usama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the concept.  We can except not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks, but also less audacious "sand in the gears" tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.

These attacks are designed to hit us in our "comfort zone" forcing the average American to "pay more and play less" and eventually eroding our resolve.  But it can only work if we let it.  It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry - you and I - is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted.  It will be the fulcrum upon which victory or defeat will turn.  He believes us to be soft, impatient, and self-centered.  He may be right, but if so, we must change.

The Prussian General Carl Von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a "remarkable trinity of war" that is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order.

Every American citizen was in the cross hairs of last Tuesday's attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade Center or Pentagon.  The will of the American people will decide this war.  If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our mistakes, improvise, and adapt.  If we can do that, we will eventually prevail.

Everyone I've talked to in the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in one for or another "I just wish I could do something!"  You are already doing it.  Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your president and military, and the outcome is certain.  If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain.

God Bless America
Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF(Ret)
Former Director of Military History,
USAF Academy





We'll go forward from this moment
Written by Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald...

You monster.  You beast.  You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us?  What was it you hoped we would learn?  Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause?  You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear?  You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart?  You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people.  We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless.  We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae - a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse.  We're wealthy too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement.  We are fundamentally decent, thought - peace loving and compassionate.  We struggle to know the right thing and to do it.  And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people - you, perhaps - think that any or all of this makes us weak.  You're mistaken.  We are not weak.  Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

IN PAIN
Yes, we're in pain now.  We are in mourning and we are in shock.  We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel.  Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world.  You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall.  This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone his us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain.  When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force.  When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction.  I know my people as you, I think, do not.  What I know reassures me.  It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.  There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms.  We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad.  But determined, too.  Unimaginably determined.

THE STEEL IN US
You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent.  That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well.  On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.  As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So, I ask again:  What was it you hoped to teach us?  It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred.  If that's the case, consider the message received.

And take this message in exchange:
-You don't know my people.
-You don't know what we're capable of.
You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.