What is it to understand a war? The brutal history of the last century of conflict hides itself in cold documentary. The price of the millions who’ve died,fighting,civilians,cultures and families. The personal connections to a generation now gone,leaving us without intimate tales of heroism and fear. Stories that hit us in the gut and heart,make us bleed and soaked in mythic moral ambiguity. We have Glen Beck and outrage. Strength over all.

We aimlessly utilize our massive armed resources,capable of complete and unquestionable decimation,then get lost finding reason. We leave women and children struggling to survive while the world watches the middle east drown in savageness. Our priorities are war. Efficient destruction. Remote pinpoint death. Our failure is to bring meaning,to define success,and leave a wake of moral emptiness. We create new generations of terrorists. We are blind,disconnected,and callous towards those living with our God-like War Machine and its unmeasurable reach. We demand those people acknowledge our distant rightiousness. We discard any criticism. Defer to our obvious moral superiority. Those who don’t agree can’t be helped. We barely notice the massive undercurrent of renewed vows of hatred,promises to climb up our ivory tower and make us hear,once again,the consequences of our moraly justified actions.

Americans,isolated in our beautiful country and idyllic freedom,easily cast aside foreign advice. Our pride is our most glaring weakness as our strengths so numerous and recognized.

We take pride in our military,our patriotism and nationalism. We take pride in our uniqueness,in everything that makes us separate and different from old Europe. We truly embody the cowboy spirit. The lone hero. The individualism. The self-determination.

But I don’t want this to devolve into an argument about how we argue. We have to search for a deeper reasoning about each other,rather than rallying pawns around those simplistic and irrational ideals. We have to learn something from each other in this debate,or we will all pay.

There is no reasonable definition of success in war. Immediate objectives are achieved and positions are taken,held,advanced; but the momentum of violence spreads out from the impact in all directions. It is as easy to say we succeeded in Iraq as to say we have failed. Imagine a debate in which the entire concept of winning was absent; then consider what we accomplished in the Middle East and what the consequences of those accomplishments were. Things that are so easily labelled with Victory soon fade into complex chain reactions of violence and power,energy policy and humanitarianism,vibrating directly into the hearts of people in places like Iran.

Iran may be the pivot point upon which we find meaning in our wars in the Middle East. It provides a counter-point to our own zealous ego,a polar metric with which to measure our impact. Many Americans view Iran as two: the freedom-seeking youth and the terrorism-sponsoring old,a simplistic and meaningless account of our isolated pride. Iran will become,if it is not considered so already,the sole superpower in the Middle East with the ability to legitimately counter Isreal. And while Americans hold fast to our view of our "enlightened ally",we build up the foundations of disillusioned arab extremism. We are,after all,in their back yard,giving vast resources and condoning a bitter neighbor. Without our veil of righteousness,our motives must stand on understanding the end of our means. Our job as aggressors is not simply to justify them,but to bring a better alternative.

Our purpose on the anniversary of 9/11 will always be to prevent the blind massacre of civilians in any country for any self-proclaimed cause. We must hold ourselves to a higher moral imperative and seek the universal justice our religions,morals,and constitutions demand. The world cannot afford another holy war waged by doomsday citizen-soldiers who give up knowledge for unspoken righteousness.

September is the last of days of summer,when each night gets a little cooler than the last,and we grasp at the last few degrees of heat before the cold sets in. It’s 7:00pm at Thief Wine bar and outside is quickly growing dark. The cool smell of nostalgia mixes intimately with the blustery snow in the annual cycle of life,death,and rebirth. That time of football and politics. The dusty funk when the furnace kicks on for that first time. Throughout which I tend to the chaotic mess in my basement cave,blaring music and news at any hour,hell-bent on finding some meaning to the amount of suffering we all induce on this little planet.

tools of the trade.

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