When the president of the United States in time of war gives a commencement speech, you can pretty much count on the “carpe diem” line showing up. In his graduation talk to Air Force Academy cadets, President George W. Bush didn’t disappoint. He used the forum to underscore America’s commitment to defeating terrorists and seizing the opportunity to liberate Iraq — and in so doing capture the high ground in the broader war on terrorism.
The president later segued into a parallel with World War II. Given the Memorial Day weekend, the dedication of the Veterans’ Memorial and the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, it was understandable. It was also inaccurate.
Vietnam, alas, continues to be the more appropriate analogy.
Would that the war on terrorism were truly comparable to the epic struggle that was WWII. Referencing Hitler and Hussein or Tojo and bin Laden doesn’t make it so. Comparing Pearl Harbor with the World Trade Towers isn’t enough.
*Would that perverted Fundamentalism were merely a dangerous, geopolitical ideology — not unlike Nazism and Facism.
*Would that religion were not a factor, let alone a driving force.
*Would that we were merely an enemy — not an infidel.
*Would that mosques weren’t also for preying.
*Would that geopolitics only involved countries — not tribes.
*Would that Americans — civilian and uniformed — felt the war was as good as the cause. Najaf isn’t Normandy.
*Would that we had joined key allies for an easily agreed upon common mission.
*Would that those we liberated two generations ago didn’t now see us as arrogant pillars of pre-emption and unilateralism.
*Would that those we recently liberated would see something other than a culturally insensitive occupation by contemporary Crusaders.
*Would that the rules of engagement were similar. Suicide bombers, male and female, are an especially obscene mutation.
*Would that the enemy were sovereign hegemons with uniformed armies — not jihad-crazed Muslims in mufti. Muqtada al-Sadr is not Erwin Rommel.
*Would that the enemy loved their own lives more than they hated us.
*Would that the Israeli lobby and Ariel Sharon’s blank check weren’t undermining our Mid East credibility — such that even Muslim “allies” can’t act like it.
*Would that the word sacrifice had meaning to Americans at home — not just the unlucky ones in uniform in Iraq.
*Would that victory would be recognizable when it happens.
*Would that FDR, Ike or Harry were waiting in the wings.