How good intentions went sour over one day

By By Luke Hinz

By Luke Hinz

It seems every month is one filled with remembrances — of the destruction of Katrina, of our country’s spirited work ethic or of all those who have fought and died for this country.

Now, we approach another day of memory — one that stands at the forefront of our collective memory as the day our nation lost its innocence.

Next week, when the cameras focus in on President Bush as he leads the nation in remembering the tragedy and heroism that we witnessed on Sept. 11, focus your mind on where that day has led our nation.

Sept. 11 was a chance for the United States to unite the world in a war not against radicals and religions, but against hatred and misunderstanding. Somehow, as we await the status reports of the failing troop surge in Iraq, witness the growing violence in Afghanistan and try hard to grasp the Iraqi death toll, I think we may have failed.

Afghanistan was the initial strike of America’s new strategy to attack the terrorists on their home soil as they did to us. The fall of the Taliban was swift and almost certain — but not quite. When we should have been cleaning up the remaining hostilities and guiding Afghanistan toward a democracy, we were too busy funneling our resources toward Iraq, a target that was later found to have no connection to Sept. 11 or al-Qaida.

Today, Afghanistan is a sinking ship among ever-rising seas. Opium production in the country has hit a record high, NATO forces are fighting to take back previously liberated towns and villages from the renewed Taliban and warlords continue to dictate many parts of the country. President Hamid Karzai himself said that security in his country had “definitely deteriorated,” a statement that one former national security official called a “very diplomatic understatement.”

Meanwhile, the situation across the border in Pakistan, America’s ally in the war on terror, is looking just as desperate. Numerous protests have broken out calling for President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s resignation, a man who continues desperately to deny his people basic rights with one hand while receiving food from Bush with the other. But Bush still contends that he is an important American ally, regardless of the fact that his forces are either failing against Taliban forces or joining them.

Unfortunately, these blunders pale in comparison to the situation in Iraq. Compared to Afghanistan, Iraq is a ship in a free fall to the bottom of the ocean. The surge is not working. American troops are now arming Sunni militias who were once our enemy and a brand new terrorist group, al-Qaida of Mesopotamia, has arisen to beat us back from the Euphrates River.

Where we were once praised as liberators, we are now cursed as perpetrators of a foreign occupation. The number of American troops dead has now soared well past the number of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the most modest number of Iraqi dead is more than 70,000.

While the fighting and death rages on, millions of Iraqi refugees are fleeing into camps in Syria and Jordan and swelling the ranks of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. Who can blame them? Their country is burning and all signs point toward America.

Amid the fighting lies America, proud and resolute on the other side of the world. Whatever political capital or sympathy we stored up from Sept. 11 has been lost. The world, and a huge part of America, is sick of the wars and sick of the loss. Italy has already pulled its troops out of Iraq and Britain is in the process. We stand alone on the brink of failure in Iraq.

But Bush soldiers on. He calls our sacrifice noble and preaches of a world free of terrorism for our children. He contends that the surge is working and that American lives are worth a stable Iraq — But one has to ask if that goal is even possible anymore.

So, when the spotlight illuminate ground zero in a pale blue this Sept. 11, remember the people and soldiers and Iraqis who have died and will continue to die. Remember the good intentions we set out with on this crusade, and how they have quickly turned sour at the hands of political brutes ready to take on the world. But most importantly, remember the nation that we were, before the towers came crashing down, and we let our own hate engulf us.

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