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Terrorism and American Identity

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2001 by RDFollendoreIII

September 22, 2001

Our world is self destructive and it will not leave us alone.  Our United States understand that now.  Terrorism is not just a word in the newspaper anymore.

There are two great problems that we Americans face.  

The first problem we face is terrorism.  

It is obvious that the extremists have rang the Worlds wakeup bell.  In fact, they have been escalating their attacks for years and we just chose not to wakeup. Well the United States has been awakened and that fact will change the World.  The Bush doctrine is now taking place.

Complexity is a part of our new doctrine but so is risk. We can not absolutely understand what changes the World will have as a result of what the United States are about to do.  We know what will happen if we do not change the way the world is operating.  We understand that if terrorism is willing to plan the kind of attacks that devastated the heart of New York then the next attack will likely involve nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.  We understand that if terrorism is willing to declare war on Americas leaders and symbols then it has declared war on our right to exist as a nation.  This is a war because these are the consequences of war.  

The second problem we face is our American identity.

Individual Americans feel compelled to act.  They instantly felt as though they were personally attacked.  They instantly united to a common cause and it is this unity that we must be careful of.  America has traditionally represented many things.  A little more than a week ago we took pride in our ability to disagree to reach agreement.  We argued and we fought but eventually Americans changed their course.  That is not the case today.  There are those who feel that disagreement is not strength and that unity is.  There is a majority who would say that our direction is clear.  We know what we must do and what we must expect if we do not succeed.  They say there is no justification for dissention.  I say they could not be further from the truth.

The truth is that these two great problems I have just defined are interrelated.  The greatest danger to America does not lie with world terrorism, it is allowing terrorism to destroy American democracy.  America is fragile because it is not totalitarian.   America is fragile because it is a concept of balance.  America is fragile because in order to function, it must operate within a framework of uncensored argument and dialogue, and not just within a civil code of law and order.  

America is also relentlessly strong because of these reasons.  America bends rather than breaks. America adapts. America ultimately becomes what is necessary to defeat our enemies because we are not rigid.  It is because of our adaptive strength that America always turns defeat into victory.  Because we are so divergent a society, made up of so many ethnic cultures, to attack America is to attack the world.  No country has ever defeated the United States, including Vietnam.  What Americans demonstrated by walking away from that war was that if a people do not appreciate our culture, our support and our cause we are capable of abandoning them to their fate.  At one time Vietnam despised  us, for their communist ideals, now they desire us for our capitalist ideas.  They only realized too late that their "victory" was not a victory at all, it was civilized societal abandonment.

Like Vietnam, this too will ultimately become a war of introspection for America.  Today there appears to be concrete issues and actions we must take.  But tomorrow, America's goals and aspirations will be pitted against moral and pragmatic boundaries.  We will find that if America attempts to destroy terrorism and changes what we fundamentally are, then the terrorists have won.   If America destroys terrorism through terror then we have exchanged roles and have become them.  If the American people are not able to manage the distinctions between what the poor countries of this planet think of us, and what we must achieve to succeed against terrorism then America will ultimately lose this war.  

The moment for knee jerk reactions is over. Creation rules of law that damage our free rights as citizens also damage our ability to respond honestly to these questions as a nation.  Nationalism is not necessarily Patriotism.  America had better deliberately and soberly consider these things today, rather than tomorrow.




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved