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Quagmire sours sweet land of liberty

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-21-07 04:09 PM
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Quagmire sours sweet land of liberty
By Michael Rooke-Ley
For The Register-Guard
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007

Four years ago today I returned from Baghdad, where I had been invited to meet with Iraq's foreign minister and other Baath Party officials and to offer any 11th-hour suggestions for peaceful alternatives to the impending American invasion - believing, with embarrassing naivete, that our nation's attack (just weeks later) could be avoided.

Since then, we've learned .... that the invasion had been planned all along by the Bush administration as part of a messianic mission to establish permanent bases throughout Iraq and then control and transform the entire Middle East. We've learned that our nation maintains secret prisons throughout the world and that Guantanamo alone holds without charge men from at least a dozen nations. Torture, "extraordinary rendition" and warrantless domestic eavesdropping have become front-page news. We - and, more importantly, our kids - are witnessing the cultural ostracism of Muslims and other people of color, portrayed as our enemies on popular TV shows and video games ...

I remembered climbing the Washington Monument for the first time as a 10-year-old. Growing up in the 1950s, we knew that the United States was the greatest nation on Earth. Land of liberty, home of the brave, beacon of freedom, the best, the brightest, the wealthiest - all of this we seemed to grasp intuitively, never giving it a second thought. (The 1954 addition of "under God" to our Pledge of Allegiance merely confirmed what we already knew.) Our assumptions gave us the security, confidence and sense of entitlement that only come with privilege.

But now, 50 years later, with school-age children of my own, I find my confidence in America shaken, my assumptions in doubt, my national pride slipping away. What have we become? Or did I simply never know? How could this have happened? Is Rome burning? How do I explain to my kids that America is better than this? ...
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