The War on Terror has been ongoing for almost 6 years. It was declared by President George W. Bush following the disastrous events of 9/11/2001.
I admit to having mixed emotions concerning this supposed war. Many of my fellow Americans and myself were enraged by the events of that September morning. The attack was the first one since Pearl Harbor on American soil involving a major loss of human life. As a nation we had been accustomed to security, believing no one would be foolish enough to attack us on our own turf. True enough, no nation had done this deed, but rather an amorphous entity without land, borders, or standing armies.
The enemy had tried to wound us before in multiple attacks. The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole while in port at Yemen in 2000 had served warning that we were not secure from attack. The 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers as well as the Pentagon (and the 4th airliner bound for another target) were the culminating blow.
Both of the major political parties in the US have demagogued the subject without cease for the last 6 years. Of course, it is the fault of the opposing party of whomever is speaking. Points can be argued pro and con, assigning blame to both parties. There's enough blame to go around. It's popular to assume that President Bill Clinton is mainly to blame as the events leading up to the 9/11 attack occurred under his watch, though the actual attack did occur in the opening days of the Bush presidency.
It is my contention that certain events presaged the 9/11 attack, events which actually had little or nothing to do with who occupied the Oval Office.
The first item which had occurred was the dot.com crash, an event which had been forecast by economic analysts, though their projections failed to tell when the crash would happen. In the giddy days of the young internet entrepreneurs rushed to find ways to make money in the new medium. Many companies existed that had no model for actually turning a profit. It was the electronic equivalent of the US land rush of a previous century. It didn't matter whether it was prime farm land or scrub brush and rocks, everyone was determined to stake out their 40 acres.
The second item that had the US economy on an unstable footing was the Federal Reserve Bank policy of repeated raising of the short term interest rates. The resulting tightened credit market had a dampening effect on both business expenditures and consumer spending. I believe the Fed put the brakes on too hard, pushing the economy toward a recession.
These two conditions had the economy reeling like a battered prize fighter. All that was needed was a final knockout punch. Osama Bin Laden took the opportunity to deliver that blow.
Do you see where I am going with this? Is there a pattern?
Today is September 9, 2007. There are certain events which prevail today, events which eerily mirror the conditions 6 years ago.
The US economy is suffering under a real estate bubble which has burst. Many markets are experiencing deflating home values while the mortgage holders are saddled with increasing payments (if they have adjustable rate mortgages, known as an ARM). Economists forecast the real estate bubble would burst, just as they foretold of the dot.com bust. The dot.com bust led to major bloodletting in the stock market. The same is occurring with the sub prime mortgage scenario. Once a bubble bursts, no one knows where the bottom is until it is attained.
The Federal Reserve has once again pursued a policy of increasing the short term interest rates in a bid to restrain inflation which has largely been invisible. Tighter credit has many people strapped with fewer and fewer options for relief.
I found it amusing that a report came out within the last few weeks stating with surprise the number of foreclosures due to people not being able to make their mortgage payments. It was just within the last year that the credit card companies increased their minimum payments by about 100%. In a nation that runs on credit that move alone sucked the surplus money from many family budgets. Confronted with the choice to pay the mortgage or the credit cards, many people made the poor choice to pay the credit cards.
All these factors have conspired to weaken the economy. The wild swings of the stock markets reflect the oscillations in consumer confidence. The consumers are tired and spent out, uncertain whether they can take on additional burdens.
The economy is reeling, staggering about like a punch drunk fighter yet again. The stage is set for another blow, one designed to knock us out.
The economy took a plunge the last time we were attacked, an event in which we lost a couple buildings and a few thousand people. I in no way wish to minimize that loss of property or life. Compare that loss however to the loss should our enemy set off a dirty bomb in the Chicago Loop or on the docks at the Port of Long Beach, California. The cost of cleanup coupled to the loss of productivity would dwarf the 9/11/2001 attack.
The taxpayers have been hosed to the tune of billions of dollars to fund a new Department of Homeland Security. This department has found it necessary to wand little old ladies while steadfastly refusing to use profiling. The terrorists have been identified as members of a certain group, a group which contains remarkably few little old white women.
The Department of Homeland Security along with the department in charge of immigration (ICE, formerly INS) have utterly failed to secure our borders. Admittedly, it is a daunting task. When confronted with the need to know who is in our country and to know why they are here and where they are, our officials tell us there is no way to cope with the 12 million illegals projected to be here. If there were 12 million people known to be delinquent in paying their taxes, my bet is the response by the federal government would be much more robust.
Thwarted in their attempt to pass an immigration amnesty bill some months ago, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts railed at the idea of collecting the illegals and deporting them. He told us the effort to find 12 million illegals was impossible.
I don't believe we need to find and deport 12 million illegals. I believe we need to find one illegal and deport that person, then do the same process 12 million more times. The US is still (barely) a sovereign nation. It is up to us who is allowed to come here, to work here, and to live here.
The US federal government has demonstrated either total incompetence or a readiness to abjectly lie to the citizenry. Instead of declaring that we need new laws to handle immigration we could actually try to enforce the existing laws. Until that has been tried, we don't need any more laws on the books.
Another symptom of the disease eating away at the soft underbelly of the US is a system that prosecuted the people charged with enforcing the immigration laws. Two immigration officers (Campion and Ramos) have been tried, convicted, and imprisoned for trying to apprehend a drug dealer, a Mexican illegally in the US. The drug dealer was wounded and the officers are in prison. The drug dealer was granted immunity from prosecution for his crimes in exchange for his testimony against the officers and is now suing the US for 5 million dollars. The President has been too busy to look into using his power to pardon these officers who risked their lives enforcing the law, though he did squeak out a few seconds to commute the sentence of Scooter Libby.
The military has been handed a mission in Iraq which they are struggling mightily to accomplish. The Iraqi government will not ever be ready to take over their own defense until the mission is forced upon them. Our mission should be one of dwindling involvement, passing responsibility off to the Iraqis.
My hope is that what I see is totally without merit. The idea that we will be struck again is not a comfortable one. I am sickened by the unwillingness of this president to develop a plan for victory.
President Bush has called this a War on Terror. Perhaps it would be more close to the truth if it were renamed the War on Logic.