Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Flag raising July 4, 2007


Flag raising July 4, 2007
Originally uploaded by LugerLA
"No better friend, no worse enemy" "First, do no harm" These were the orders given by Marine General James Mattis, on his second tour in Iraq. And these are words that make being an American different then the great powers that have gone before.

Afghanistan is a poor country, surrounded by giants. The Hindu Kush has been invaded on conquered by the Medians, the Persians, the Macedonians of Alexander the Great, the Kushans, the Mongul Khans, Tamerlane, the British and the Soviets. Each of these empires eventually found the land too much trouble to keep, and not even worth the effort to wipe out the population (as the Khans and Tamerlane were known to do). And none of them bothered to invest in the population. Until the Americans came. For the first time, resources are being invested in the population. People are given skills, children are educated. And we wait for this generation of children to grow up and take their places in the villages, towns, cities and institutions. While others hope we tire first, and they can continue to use this as a place to hide, filling the population with fear of punishment, and tales that the world has turned their backs.

So, is this American (United States) venture worth it? A friend of mine once asked, "why do we care if there are atrocities. Isn't all fair in love and war?" And the question is, what kind of world do you want to live in? It may be true for most people that in force is power, that perception is often more important than truth, that noone can be trusted. But there is a large part of the American experiment that wants to say that the truth does matter, that force is made stronger when it is driven by justice and protection, that the bonds of a people who chose to be bound together in a varied nation can be strong, such that it can be trusted alongside bonds of kin, and there is no need to set one against the other. It is, after all, a grand experiment. And there are enough people who believe it to have failed or want it to fail so that hoping for its success is an affirmative act. And I am glad to be a part of it.
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