If you're at least 50 years old, it's hard hearing the news of our ever-growing involvement in the Middle East effort (Effort? Hell, let's call it what it is: a war.) to defeat ISIS, and not experience a very uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.
Never mind that it's oddly reminiscent of our misguided forays into this troubled area back in the Bush-Cheney days. We were convinced of a clear and present danger to "the homeland," and wasted the precious lives of young men and women, along with a trillion dollars, only to have terrorism rear its ugly head once more, a Whac-A-Mole folly that accomplished nothing, except making more people hate us.
I recall how the Vietnam War teared this country to shreds, back in the late 60s and early 70s. Children fought with parents; students fought with institutions; tear gas and life ammunition were employed to quell the protests that called for an end to an "action" that only grew in scope and cost.
So my default take on our (thus far) limited involvement in the coalition that is pursuing ISIS (and other terrorist cells) in Iraq and Syria is that it's a harbinger of much greater involvement in the not-too-distant future. Do any of us truly believe we won't be putting "boots on the ground" as the effectiveness of our precision airstrikes dwindles? Things are ugly, and I think they'll only get uglier.
Say what you want about our current president. His approval ratings are at dismal levels, and he oversees a government that manages to get almost nothing done. But I found his comments on 60 Minutes last Sunday both honest and inspiring. When Steve Kroft asserted that, once again, we are the ones leading the operation in the Middle East, Obama cut him off.
"Steve, that's always the case. That's always the case," he repeated. "America leads. We are the indispensable nation. We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don't call Beijing. They don't call Moscow. They call us. That's the deal...
"Steve, there is not an as issue ... when there's a typhoon in the Philippines, take a look at who's helping the Philippines deal with that situation. When there's an earthquake in Haiti, take a look at who's leading the charge making sure Haiti can rebuild. That's how we roll. And that's what makes this America."
That's how we roll. And that's what makes this America. I love that statement, and once again, I am overcome with emotion in my pride of this country. I do not believe that anyone or any group should get away with killing innocent victims, much less beheading them publicly. Period. There's a line in the sand that you don't cross, and that line was crossed. So we act. Not arbitrarily. Not illogically. But we act.
While the rest of the world observes in terror, we act, and if along the way we make honest mistakes and incur the ill-will of anyone, I'm prepared to accept that.
Like many of you, I've travelled to many countries. Some like the United States more than others, for sure. But no matter whom they are, no matter where they are, when help is desperately needed, the call goes out to America. Those animals hiding behind some warped religious dogma have asked for this fight, and we should make them regret what they wished for.
This time, our incredibly brave, valiant young men and women who will be called to administer justice will be fighting a righteous cause. Some will die, and some boots will be left in far-off desert lands. But this country will be on the right side of morality and humanity, and morality and humanity will prevail.