A Year Later and Are We Safer?
Here we are, a year after the invasion of Iraq?
Everywhere I turn, from CNN to the papers to local news to
NPR, all have been noting the fact that a year ago we were
beginning the invasion of Iraq.
And now that we are a year away, do we feel safer? It was
a question blazoned across the pages of USA TODAY, delivered
to my hotel room in Los Angeles. Well, I'm not sure how the
rest of the world feels but I feel less safe than I did a
I have not been in New York this week but out on the road,
conducting meetings about a variety of projects, seeing old
friends and organizing business but in the background, I have
been watching the city where I live closely.
On one hand, it is battered by a winter storm, a St. Patrick's
Day winter storm which is so like the St. Patrick Winter Storms
that raged through my Minnesota childhood that it seemed strangely
familiar. But what is unfamiliar is that the city where I
am now living seems to be battening down the hatches not so
much against the snow as against what might happen on the
one year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
Tripp will not be taking any subways and I am grateful that
he won?t be. I [and I think I am not the only one] am painfully
aware of what happened in Madrid this past week, on the two
and a half year anniversary of 9/11. I have a deep seated,
visceral fear that something like that will happen in New
Even before I headed out on this road trip, I left behind
a city that was feeling vulnerable. A part of me wanted to
[and still might] send flowers to the consulate of Spain in
New York in memoriam of what happened there.
While we mourn the dead and wounded in Madrid, we must also
mourn the dead and wounded in Iraq, the numbers of which are
growing. In the aftermath of Madrid, a growing number of participants
in the Iraqi adventure of the United States and Britain are
backpedaling, like Poland, claiming they were misled about
the Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Actually, I suspect a disingenuous effort to avoid the fate
of Madrid by distancing themselves from actions taken. However,
it is a telling statement about our current international
situation that former allies are beginning to look for cover
in the wake of Madrid. We were wrong about the WMD's and the
price we are now paying for being wrong is being let loose
by those who stood with us.
While we are finding ourselves distanced by our allies, we
are also facing a growing discontent at home which questions
where we are going. And if the questions are mounting at home,
they are resoundingly loud outside the US. In the majority
of countries surveyed by a USA TODAY poll this past week indicates
that most Western countries are out of sync with our views
of our actions. We feel we were justified; others do not.
We have reached some kind of crossroads and the point where
the roads crossed was in Madrid, with the explosions that
devastated that country. That attack has pushed Spain toward
withdrawing from the Coalition which is occupying Iraq. That
attack has struck fear into others who now question the information
that led them to join the US in Iraq and that attack is causing
New York to batten down the hatches and to hope for the best
as the anniversary of war loomed upon them.
The news is full of this and it is full of the banal news
of our cult of personality. The streets may be full of blood
but we still seem to care about Courtney Love?s latest misadventure
in a degree that is equal to the blood in the streets in Baghdad.
Failure to focus is a serious disadvantage in a country which
is at the crossroads.