[Mb-civic] 9/11 -- and Counting - Michael Hirsh - Washington Post
swiggard at comcast.net
Sun Sep 11 18:33:27 PDT 2005
9/11 -- and Counting
Four Years In, No Clear Plan
By Michael Hirsh
Sunday, September 11, 2005; Page B01
On Dec. 9, 1941, two days after the Pearl Harbor attack, Franklin Delano
Roosevelt addressed the American people in a fireside chat. In tone and
manner, FDR's words were not very different from the rhetoric of George
W. Bush three generations later, when Bush called the nation to action
nine days after Sept. 11, 2001, and declared, "We will not tire, we will
not falter, and we will not fail." Roosevelt told his radio listeners:
"The sources of international brutality, wherever they exist, must be
absolutely and finally broken down. . . . We don't like it -- we didn't
want to get in it -- but we are in it and we are going to fight it with
everything we've got. . . . We are going to win the war, and we are
going to win the peace that follows."
FDR was as good as his word. Over the next 3 1/2 years, he and then his
successor, Harry Truman, transformed a depression-ravaged, isolationist
nation -- one with virtually no army -- into the world's dominant power.
They assiduously cultivated alliances that shared the fighting and
dying, oversaw the defeat of two hegemonic threats (Japan and Germany),
and began to rebuild these former enemies into peaceful democratic
allies. At the same time the two presidents created many of the
institutions that still define the global system, including the United
Nations, planning for which began in 1944.
And they did it in less time than has now elapsed in the war on
terrorism. Today marks the fourth anniversary of 9/11. It is a
depressing milestone, made grimmer by the comparison to World War II.
President Bush himself drew this analogy in a speech on Aug. 30,
declaring that we face a "determined enemy who follows a ruthless
ideology" just as we did 60 years earlier, and "once again we will not
rest until victory is America's." What Bush failed to note was that it
took FDR and Truman precisely 1,347 days, from Dec. 7, 1941, to the
surrender of Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, to win WWII, pacify the enemy and
largely secure the peace that followed. By comparison, 1,461 days have
now passed since that terrible day in 2001. And even now there is no end
in sight to the "global war on terror." What is perhaps more unsettling,
there is no detailed strategy for winning this war.
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