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03/20/2004 Archived Entry: "Post-March 11: The High Moral Ground"

First, a note. I have been asleep for a while. Busy with life, my kids, and whatnot. But now I am awake and will resume my editorial snaps with greater frequency. Not because the world needs another opinion, not because I'm a frustrated op/ed columnist, but because this helps to quell the growing anxiety in my gut over what I fear is a terrible turn for the worst.

You may have read about my concerns over foreign policies dealing with the terrorist threat. Today I'm writing about the fruits of what I consider enormous errors committed in that regard. In case you haven’t been keeping score, the net result of the Madrid train bombing is 202 dead, 1,400 injured, and course of history changed (once again). We were the victims on September 11. On the greatest scale imaginable, we were victim and hero all in one fell sloop. Our allies wept with us. They gave us their deepest expressions of sorrow. And they held up their chins and shouldered the burden of grief by our side. For the first time in history, European military was activated by a call from the United States. For the first time in history, NATO jets patrolled our airways. The World Trade Towers were not only hallowed ground – it was our high moral ground. The months that followed, we used that moral authority imbued by 911 to determine what would follow. At the crest of the Great War on terror, we were victorious. With strong European support, we engaged the Talibanic Afghanistan and crushed them roundly. Soon afterward however, our stalwart partners began to hold misgivings over our failure to arrive at a strategy that might quell the greatest impetus for this reign of terror – they expected us to help them bring down and isolate the doctrine that had issued such horror. Namely, they were looking for us to step in and help them defuse the greatest sources of Arab Islamic anger.

Today, with the occupation of Iraq taking center stage and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now infused with a volume of hatred that few of us have witnessed in our lifetime, the real enemy is ready to fully exploit our distraction and division. The al-Qaeda have rallied their supporters, the supporters are generating their own movements, and now we face a vicious hydra that will strike wildly, globally, and with great zeal. With March 11 taking on the mantle of high moral regard, our allies are caught looking over their shoulders worried about how they will protect themselves. And we - the people of the United States - are caught without the guarantee of the kind of ironclad support we gratefully accepted only a few years ago. It is time that we realize that our leadership has taken an enormous gambit and failed. Our blindness for revenge and our inability to foresee what many philosophers, scholars, and tacticians predicted (with stunning accuracy) has only served to aggravate the divisions and incite our real enemies. Our policies have helped to expand the Jihadist mission and make us far more vulnerable to even greater tragedies. God only knows where the next high moral ground will arise - but it ought to be a doozie. -HP

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