Stand United Not Divided

by Bill Croft 22 days ago in controversies

Evidence Suggests the Right Action at the Right Time

Stand United Not Divided

Yesterday, we were on our way to visit our grandson when the song “United We Stand” by Brotherhood of Man came on the radio. The lyrics are entirely appropriate for today’s turmoil:

There's no where in the world that I would rather be

Then with you my love

And there's nothing in the world that I would rather see

Than you smile my love

For united we stand. Divided we fall

And if our backs should ever be against the wall

We'll be together, Together, you and I

For united we stand. Divided we fall

And if our backs should ever be against the wall

We'll be together, Together, you and I

And if the world around you falls apart my love

Then I'll still be here

And if the going gets too hard along the way

Just you call I'll hear

For united we stand. Divided we fall

And if our backs should ever be against the wall

We'll be together, Together, you and I

For united we stand. Divided we fall

And if our backs should ever be against the wall

We'll be together, Together, you and I

This song could easily be an anthem for us to follow. It made me think of how we are so divided on all topics today. It is unfortunate. It also reminds me that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, as George Santayana stated in 1905. In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said (paraphrased), 'Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.' Both men were on point. When you combine their quotes with the lyrics of the song, you get: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it, so if we stand united, we will not fall. And if our backs should ever be against the wall, we'll be together, together, you and me otherwise united we stand, and divided we fall.

Churchill was right on more than one occasion as history documents. The song reminds us that we should be united and not divided. Considering the state of foreign affairs, we need to remain united, not divided, or we will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

I find it hard to understand how we can wonder at this stage the role Iran plays in terrorism around the world, given the long list of embassy bombings, planes shot down and the public connections with so many terrorist groups. I also ponder questions like this: What if I were in charge? What if you were in charge? Would I or you know when enough is enough? It is most certainly a difficult decision especially when your primary job is to protect others. The primary charge and function of our government are to protect the American people and our interest regardless of who is in the White House. I think the 900 plus drone attacks ordered by the Obama Administration on terrorist targets to prevent attacks deserve credit and praise. Nevertheless, there was often much collateral damage as there was with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan conducted by the Bush Administration including our men and women of the US Military.

If you were an official in the Bush Administration on September 10, 2001, you received word that the attack is imminent, and you know where Bin Laden is at that very moment. Do you take him out or wait? Many in the media and some politicians felt our government knew specifically what was about to occur. In fact, the Bush Administration was blamed for knowing about the attacks and doing nothing. The 9/11 Commission showed the many failures of our government Intelligence Agencies, yet taking out Bin Laden at that moment would not have stopped the hijackers. It was already in motion. Like Pearl Harbor, the intelligence came too late to act upon what was already in motion. Ironically, in both cases, we lost a similar number of Americans on those two fateful days.

If you knew we did have earlier actionable intelligence to prevent 9/11, would you order the attack on Bin Laden? I cannot imagine anyone seeing the towers come that day would say anything other: Hell Yes! I am sure there would have been appeasers, but I think the majority would have agreed with the action. In that scenario, 9/11 would have never occurred at least on that date.

As many of you do, I still have that image seared into my memory. We stood in the student center at the college, watching it live on television. We arrived shortly in the center to witness the second tower attack. As the buildings were engulfed in smoke and flames, we were left to imagine the number of casualties that we just witnessed. We were unaware of the number of people leaping to their death to avoid being burned to death, although we could see a few. We could not take our eyes off the small TV as others gathered around and asking what happened. Prior to the first Twin Towers collapsing, a colleague and I were talking. I said: “those buildings are about to come down. How many were in those buildings? The losses are going to massive”. I was rebuked sharply by a more senior faculty member: “they are too strong to fall.” I disagreed but stayed silent, then just moments later, the first tower collapsed. Chills ran down my back. I knew we just witnessed the tragic death of thousands of our fellow Americans. I also knew it would happen again in short order, given the condition of the next tower. It did and we were all stunned, and I do not even know if we were aware of the Pentagon attack and Flight 93. It is hazy at this point. I do remember the sadness that later gave way to anger then retaliation. Later this anger would be turned on the Bush Administration for not preventing the attacks.

What should have been done? Attempts to take Bin Laden should have occurred years before by the Clinton Administration while these types of attacks were being planned, which included the immigration of sleeper cells existing on our soil to this day. Do we really need to criticize Trump for taking preemptive action? Should we criticize prior administrations for taking little to no action? There is plenty of blame to go around. As American citizens, we should be on the side of America, not a political party these days. We should understand our history on this matter and ask ourselves what we would have done in this case. It will be some time before we know the evidence that Trump had to act on, but we know the history of Iranian influence and support for terrorism. Do we understand it completely? I did not until I went back in time to look at the documents that are publicly available to any of us. History can inform us and help us make better decisions today and, in the future, if we stop casting blame for a moment.

Consider the 1998 United States embassy bombings that “Iran was liable for the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzaniaon” according to Judge John D. Bates in federal court on November 8, 2011.

Consider the USS Cole bombing. It was determined in a ruling by U.S. federal judge Rudolph Contreras in March of 2015 that Iran and Sudan were complicit in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole by al Qaeda, stating that "Iran was directly involved in establishing Al-Qaeda's Yemen network and supported training and logistics for Al-Qaeda in the Gulf region" through Hezbollah.

Now consider September 11, 2001. In a Wikipedia article titled, Responsibility for the September 11 attacks The U.S. indictment of bin Laden filed in 1998 stated that al-Qaeda "forged alliances ... with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies." Within this article, it was revealed that on May 31, 2001, Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "Officials of the Iranian government helped arrange advanced weapons and explosives training for Al-Qaeda personnel in Lebanon where they learned, for example, how to destroy large buildings." This was months before the attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report stated that 8 to 10 of the hijackers previously passed through Iran, and their travel was facilitated by Iranian border guards yet could not connect the dots.

You could also look at a report titled COUNTERING THE CHANGING THREAT OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM: Report of the National Commission on Terrorism Pursuant to Public Law 277, 105th Congress (1997-1999). The report by our lawmakers was forwarded with this passage:

"Surprise, when it happens to a government, is likely to be a complicated, diffuse, bureaucratic thing. It includes neglect of responsibility but also responsibility so poorly defined or so ambiguously delegated that action gets lost. It includes gaps in intelligence, but also intelligence that, like a string of pearls too precious to wear, is too sensitive to give to those who need it. It includes the alarm that fails to work, but also the alarm that has gone off so often it has been disconnected. It includes the unalert watchman, but also the one who knows he'll be chewed out by his superior if he gets higher authority out of bed. It includes the contingencies that occur to no one, but also those that everyone assumes somebody else is taking care of. It includes straightforward procrastination, but also decisions protracted by internal disagreement. It includes, in addition, the inability of individual human beings to rise to the occasion until they are sure it is the occasion-- which is usually too late. (Unlike movies, real life provides no musical background to tip us off to the climax.) Finally, as at Pearl Harbor, surprise may include some measure of genuine novelty introduced by the enemy, and possibly some sheer bad luck. The results, at Pearl Harbor, were sudden, concentrated, and dramatic. The failure, however, was cumulative, widespread, and rather drearily familiar. This is why surprise, when it happens to a government, cannot be described just in terms of startled people. Whether at Pearl Harbor or at the Berlin Wall, surprise is everything involved in a government's (or in an alliance's) failure to anticipate effectively".

In this report, it also states “if most of the world's countries are firmer in opposing terrorism, some still support terrorists or use terrorism as an element of state policy. Iran is the clearest case. The Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of intelligence and Security carry out terrorist activities and give direction and support to other terrorists. The regimes of Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan provide funding, refuge, training bases, and weapons to terrorists. Libya continues to provide support to some Palestinian terrorist groups and to harass expatriate dissidents, and North Korea may still provide weapons to terrorists. Cuba provides safe haven to a number of terrorists. Other states allow terrorist groups to operate on their soil or provide support, which while failing short of state sponsorship, nonetheless gives terrorists important assistance”.

According to PBS article written after 9/11 regarding terrorist attacks on Americans by John Moore titled, The Evolution of Islamic Terrorism - An Overview wrote: “In the West, attention was focused on state sponsorship, specifically the Iranian-backed and Syrian-supported Hezbollah; state sponsors' use of secular Palestinian groups was also of concern. Hezbollah pioneered the use of suicide bombers in the Middle East and was linked to the 1983 bombing and subsequent deaths of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, as well as multiple kidnappings of U.S. and Western civilians and government officials. Hezbollah remains a key trainer of secular, Shia, and Sunni movements. As revealed during the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103…Iraq and Syria were heavily involved in supporting various terrorist groups, with Baghdad using the Abu Nidal Organization on several occasions. State sponsors used terrorist groups to attack Israeli as well as Western interests, in addition to domestic and regional opponents. It should be noted that the American policy of listing state sponsors was heavily politicized, and did not include several countries -- both allies and opponents of Washington -- that, under U.S. government definitions, were guilty of supporting or using terrorism”.

I do not think PBS is a GOP supporter, so I would say they were at least reporting what was known at the time. Nevertheless, you see clearly see this issue has been percolating for a very long time at least since 1979 when 52 hostages were taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

My takeaway from a deep dive into the evidence is we knew well before the threats materialized that a threat was looming, but evidence may not be exact. We have been fighting a diplomatic war with Iran since 1979, while they killed Americans and many other people around the world. As a result of this diplomacy, the government did not act, which left us looking weak in the eyes of countries like Iran. From November 4, 1979, to September 11, 2001, our government elected for diplomacy. We knew who the players were, and we did nothing to really stop them. Since the Middle East players perceived it as a weakness on our part, they continued to attack. Forty years of attacks in various forms by Iran is not an unprovoked attack by any stretch of the imagination. When we finally strike back, we take out a serious player whom many think that is a mistake. Would it have been a mistake to take out Bin Laden in 1995? Ask the families of the 9/11 victims or the military families who have lost so much more than the average American.

Obama and Bush had good intentions regarding the elimination of terrorism, but both achieved little in democratizing this region. Obama appeased Iran, and they hated us. Bush used deterrents and they hated us. Trump decided not to appease and use force. Of course, they hate us.

In the past three years, we have seen Iran ramp up the attacks, and it appears they were going to do more. It is hard to know if it would have been a 9/11 style attack. What if it was? What would you do? Would you act if you were in charge? Would you act decisively? These are hard questions. I cannot think these were taken lightly by those in power. History reveals what our leaders did in the past when they failed to act. Given the history over the last 40 years, the next could strike could even be more significant. Keep in mind; they attacked our sovereign territory in Iraq by occupying our US Embassy. It is the same as if they occupied your hometown. However, we do not see it this way since it is thousands of miles away, but it is our territory. Danger will follow but it would follow anyway, especially when a regime values death over life to achieve martyrdom.

I have no right or wrong answers but make no mistake; we have been at war with Iran for 40 years. We cannot cast aside history for political expediency as many are doing. My hope is that we will see an end to this 40-year war. I also hope this will not become more partisan than it is since it harms us a nation, which is the goal of Iran or any adversary. The only thing know is that we should support our troops and pray for their safe return. We should hope and pray that our government has a plan. It is most certainly complicated and not without concern. Just remember, United we stand and divided we fall. Let’s have each other’s backs as Americans.

controversies
Bill Croft
Bill Croft
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